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An Economic Coordinating Body of Slovenians in neighbouring countries established to provide economic support for Slovenia

The Minister of Economic Development Matjaž Han and the Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon signed an agreement with representatives of Slovenian organisations in neighbouring countries concerning the foundation of an Economic Coordinating Body of Slovenians in neighbouring countries.

It was Slovenian organisations in neighbouring countries that proposed the establishment of such a body with the aim of connecting and enabling cooperation among Slovenian commercial organisations in all four neighbouring countries. The proposal to establish such a coordinating body came at a time when such cooperation is of crucial importance. The coordinating body is based on the good practices of Agraslomak, an agricultural organisation with sold foundations after ten years operating in neighbouring countries. An important contribution to the foundation of the coordinating body was also made by the state secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, Dejan Židan, and the state secretary at the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad, Vesna Humar.

“Today we will connect all the participating Slovenian business organisations in neighbouring countries with Slovenia,” said Minister Han, who noted that this was an historic event. The coordinating body will include the Slovenian Economic Union in Klagenfurt, the Union of Slovenian Societies in Croatia and the Slovenian-Croatian Business Club, the Slovenian Provincial Business Association, which is active in Italy, and the Development Agency of the Slovenian Raba Country, which operates in Hungary. Minister Han said he sees this coordinated approach as one of the answers to the question of “how can we achieve synergy in tackling present-day challenges and grasp the opportunities offered by the environment in which we live; what must we do within Slovenia’s borders, and beyond, to better deal with business challenges in the common economic region.”

The fact is that the Slovenian economy is distinctly export-oriented, and Minister Han summarised the country’s aims for internationalisation as follows: “By 2026 we would like to increase the value of our exports from today’s EUR 36.5 billion to EUR 43 billion, increase the number of export companies from the current 26,500 to 28,000, reduce how much we lag behind other EU countries in terms of FDI, as well as increase the number of Slovenian investments in foreign markets.” Slovenia carries out 30% of its trade with neighbouring countries, thanks largely to the commercial organisations of Slovenians in these countries. “We consider the regions just beyond Slovenia’s borders to be Slovenia’s natural economic hinterland,” added Minister Han, and he also addressed the role of these regions in encouraging cooperation among the neighbouring countries and their businesses, and the regional development of the border area.

Minister Arčon also emphasised that today’s event represents the beginning of closer cooperation between the economic structures of the Slovenian minorities in all four neighbouring countries. He highlighted two important aspects, one being the preservation of the joint Slovenian national and cultural area, and the strengthening of the joint economic area, in which the Slovenian minority businesspeople present in these areas across the border can act as a bridge facilitating commerce with neighbouring countries. The minister stressed that the interest in such activities was mutual: “It’s important that we don’t think about Slovenians outside our borders only in terms of how the state can help them, but also how they can help Slovenia by establishing connections and creating business opportunities.” Minister Arčon described today’s event as an excellent example of interdepartmental cooperation. The Government Office is in regular contact with Slovenians abroad, and is aware of their needs and proposals, which can then be realised only in cooperation with the competent ministries. The minister expressed his conviction that as the economy is an important basis for all other aspects of social life, formal cooperation between Slovenian businesspeople in different countries with Slovenia is the approach that will lead to many achievements. “This will be the foundation for an exchange of best practices, the strengthening of contacts, and more connections in all domains.” Arčon expects that the newly founded coordinating body will increase awareness of the joint Slovenian economic area, so he immediately offered Slovenian businesspeople from Carinthia, Austria, both help and support in founding the Economic Coordinating Body of Slovenians in neighbouring countries.

The coordinating committee, whose task it will be to prepare the concrete annual action plan, was also appointed in Lipica today. The latter will determine a range of concrete activities to help Slovenia’s economy cooperate with business organisations in neighbouring countries.