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Swiss and Slovenian Business Reps Discuss Boosting Cooperation

Ljubljana, 13 March (STA) - Representatives of Slovenian and Swiss companies met at a business conference in Ljubljana on Tuesday to discuss ways for boosting cooperation. The conference, a part of a Swiss business visit, was followed by bilateral meetings.

According to Swiss Ambassador to Slovenia Robert Reich, the two countries are similar in many respects and have much room for deepening cooperation, but they do not know each other well enough.

Switzerland has gotten through the financial crisis well although it was strongly affected by the unfavourable economic situation on the European markets, said Eric Martin, the head of Bilateral Economic Relations Services with the Swiss Foreign Economic Affairs Directorate SECO.

One of the problems was a strong currency, as many foreign investors sought refuge in the franc, which was bad news for Swiss exports and tourism, Martin explained at the meeting at the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).

Marjan Hribar of the Slovenian Tourism and Internationalisation Directorate said Switzerland was the second biggest investor in Slovenia.

The country's total foreign direct investments (FDI) in Slovenia are estimated at EUR 194.7m, the biggest investment being that of pharma company Novartis in Slovenia's Lek.

Aleš Cantarutti of the GZS Competitiveness Centre added that many opportunities were also open within the Slovenian-Swiss Cooperation Programme for reducing economic and social disparities within the enlarged European Union.

In the five-year programme, which started in January 2008, Slovenia is entitled to almost CHF 22m and had secured the drawing of 90.3% through different projects by the end of 2011.

According to the GZS, trade between Slovenia and Switzerland amounted to EUR 424.4m in the first eleven months of 2011.

Slovenia's exports to Switzerland grew by 35.8% year-on-year in this period to EUR 229.7m, while imports shrunk by 25.1% to EUR 194.7m.

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