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Minister Han visits North Macedonia with an economic delegation with the aim of improving economic cooperation

  • Ministry of Economic Development and Technology

The Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Matjaž Han, accompanied by Slovenian business representatives, is on a working visit to North Macedonia today and tomorrow. The minister, who met the Macedonian Minister of Economy, Kreshnik Bekteshi, called for the further strengthening of economic cooperation between the two countries.

Last year trade between them continued to grow and was worth EUR 433 million, and Macedonia is the fifth most important country for investments by Slovenian companies. There are opportunities for further growth in IT, telecommunications, the energy sector, organic farming, the green transition and tourism.

The minister is accompanied by a business delegation consisting of 27 representatives of Slovenian companies from the sectors of construction, logistics, new technologies, the materials industry, trade, banking, publishing and the aviation industry. The Slovenian-Macedonian forum for economic cooperation is also being attended by 70 Macedonian companies.

Minister Han commented on the good relations between the two countries: “Relations between Slovenia and North Macedonia are excellent and friendly. Cooperation between the two countries is very intensive and varied, and there are many connections between people from both countries. The strong ties between Slovenia and North Macedonia are also reflected in their economic cooperation, which is perhaps most tangible.” Han also emphasised the importance of North Macedonia’s accession to the EU: “Slovenia is making intensive efforts for North Macedonia to join the EU as soon as possible. This will further stimulate the country’s economic development thanks to easier access to a market of up to half a billion people, and new sources of funding.”

In his address to participants at the Slovenian-Macedonian forum for economic cooperation, Minister Han highlighted the growth in economic cooperation between Slovenia and North Macedonia, particularly when it comes to investments by Slovenian companies. He also emphasised the possibilities for furthering cooperation: “There are opportunities above all in IT, telecommunications, the production of organic food, the energy sector and tourism, especially spa tourism. It is also particularly important to include all the above sectors, as far as possible, in the green transition and the circular economy.

As part of the visit, Minister Han met the Minister of Economy, Kreshnik Bekteshi. The ministers discussed strengthening economic cooperation and investment. They expressed their commitment to setting up direct flights between the two countries as soon as possible, and Minister Han invited North Macedonia to the International Trade Fair MOS in Celje next year, where it would participate as a partner state.

Slovenia is also cooperating with North Macedonia in the field of development – it has donated EUR 200,000 for the project to digitalise North Macedonia’s State Archives. Cooperation in the field of university education is also good – in the last academic year alone more than 1,300 Macedonian students attended undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at Slovenian universities. One successful example is the Faculty of Economics of the University of Ljubljana, which has been organising a postgraduate programme in Skopje for the past 15 years.

Last year, trade between the two countries amounted to EUR 433 million, which is almost 25% more than in 2020. Exports amounted to almost EUR 265 million (+21.7%), and imports accounted for EUR 170 million (+31.6%). The main exports were pharmaceutical products (19%), electrical machinery and equipment (10%) and mechanical devices (9%), while the main imports were electrical machinery and equipment (41%), pharmaceutical products (14%), and vehicles and vehicle parts (8%). In the first six months of 2022, the value of merchandise trade was up 14% on the same period last year. Last year merchandise trade amounted to EUR 374 million (+23%) and the trade in services was worth EUR 59 million (+33%).

In 2021, the value of Slovenian investments in North Macedonia was EUR 457.8 million (a 9% increase from 2020). This represents 5.8% of all Slovenian investments abroad, placing North Macedonia in fifth position among countries in which Slovenian companies invest. Investments from North Macedonia in Slovenia totalled EUR 46.3 million. North Macedonia is defined as a priority in Slovenia’s strategy to internationalise its market.