Address by Prime Minister Janez Janša at the 15th Strategic Conference on Trade
- Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)
The Prime Minister today addressed the participants of the 15th traditional Strategic Conference on Trade, which was organised virtually in collaboration with the School of Economics and Business of the University of Ljubljana.
In his address, Prime Minister Janša stressed that trade was undoubtedly among the most exposed and affected sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic, "and yet, the employees in the trade sector have been organised and efficient. You were part of vital critical infrastructure. You have adapted to completely new and challenging circumstances practically overnight. Your work, for which you are rarely thanked, has been and continues to be invaluable. As traders, you have ensured steady supply to the population throughout the epidemic, for which I thank you sincerely."
The Prime Minister continued by saying that trade was a very important part of the Slovenian economy, as it generated around 35% of all economy revenue and accounted for almost 20% of all employments in the private sector. The number of employees in trade amounted to over 107,000 at the end of last year.
"One consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an acceleration of the process of digitalisation. The digitalisation of the private sector is particularly visible in trade. It is not just about digitalising marketing, but also about digitalising business processes."
In his address, the Prime Minister pointed out that in 2019 global online trade was worth $3.35 trillion, accounting for 13.6% of all trade. In 2020, global online trade increased to $4.28 trillion, while this year, it is expected to reach almost $5 trillion. According to the Prime Minister, the number of people choosing online shopping in Slovenia is also on the rise. In 2019, 66% of internet users aged between 16 and 74 made at least one online purchase. Last year, the share of such users increased to 72%. The Prime Minister believes that online sales open up new markets and business opportunities and are essential for the growth and development of trading companies: "Selling online is in fact becoming borderless trade, as anyone with internet access can be a customer, regardless of where in the world they live.
"The Government is aware of the importance of digitalisation. Our goal is clear – to create favourable conditions for the restructuring of traditional industry and transforming it into an industry of knowledge and innovation. This in turn will create new jobs with higher added value and enable the transition to green, creative and smart economy. We have already adopted measures within the national recovery and resilience plan to ensure all of the above, thus increasing the competitiveness of Slovenian economy."
Addressing the participants, the Prime Minister said that the Government was constantly monitoring the economy and taking measures to help it: "We have adopted a comprehensive proposal for tax changes which, if adopted in the National Assembly, which is what we are working towards, will have a particularly positive effect on the trade sector. The proposed tax changes include tax cuts to ensure higher wages without increasing costs for businesses or employers. I am convinced that the increase in wages will largely lead to higher consumption in trade."
He continued by addressing the COVID-19 epidemic: "A year ago, we were looking forward to the time when an effective COVID-19 vaccine would be available. Today, we have the vaccine, we even have several to choose from. But unfortunately vaccination coverage is not high enough, although we know that only a sufficiently high vaccination coverage will guarantee winning the fight against this dangerous virus that threatens everything we have believed in and worked for as a nation and as humanity. Today, we are particularly aware that health is of the greatest value. Above all, the virus puts our health and lives at risk. So let me thank all of you who have already been vaccinated. And invite all of you who have not yet done so to get your vaccination. This is the only way to protect your health and the health of your loved ones and to keep the working environment safe, both for employees and customers, and to ensure that there will be no need for another lockdown, which would be the worst option."
In his closing remarks, the Prime Minister wished the participants success in their work and as many satisfied customers as possible in the future. He gave his assurance that the Government would continue its efforts to create an environment in which wages and pensions are higher and people have more money to buy what they need in the shops.