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Slovenian-Russian Business Council to Be Launched Soon

Ljubljana, 11 March (STA) - Slovenian companies seeking to enter the Russian market will be able to join forces in a Slovenian-Russian business council, which is to be formally established as Russian PM Vladimir Putin visits Slovenia on 22 March. The preparatory meeting was held in Ljubljana on Friday.

The meeting organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) was attended by Russian Ambassador Doku Zavgayev, the head of the Economic Diplomacy Directorate Vladimir Gasparic and representatives of Slovenian companies.

Zavgajev said that there was still a lot of untapped potential for cooperation between Slovenia and Russia, adding that today's meeting was a springboard to further boost bilateral business cooperation.

He pointed to last November's visit to Russia by Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk and the session of the inter-state commission for cooperation in trade, science and technology in Moscow in mid-February, which produced agreement on 31 projects of economic cooperation.

Contracts on several of these projects will be signed during Putin's visit. This is a very good basis for further cooperation, said Zavgayev, adding that he would strive to facilitate cooperation of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs).

Currently two pharmaceutical companies generate 50% of Slovenia's exports to Russia, while SMEs are practically not presented there, said the ambassador, calling for a shift from talks to action.

The council is expected to be headed by Janez Skrabec, the boss of engineering company Riko, which has been present in Russia for more than 20 years. "The main goal of the council is to make Slovenian companies jointly enter this important market", he told the STA on the sidelines of the meeting.

Gasparic expressed support to the establishment of the council on behalf of the Foreign Ministry, saying that such integration brought an added value in the development of economic cooperation, which has gained momentum recently.

The Foreign Ministry is opening in Moscow an office for business executives interested in the Russian market. They will be able to do business free of administrative costs for a month and use services provided by he Slovenian embassy in Russia, Gasparic said.

Business representatives meanwhile said that such offices should also be opened in other Russian regions and assessed that one could succeed on the Russian market only with high quality products as competition there is very strong.

Skrabec agreed with this, adding that Slovenian banks should support the entry of Slovenian companies to the Russian market. Since Slovenian banks are burdened with bad loans, he indicated the possibility of seeking cooperation with foreign banks.

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