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Slovenia Business Week no. 39/2004: CCIS Calls for Intensive Cooperation with the Balkans

The Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIS) wishes to maintain intensive cooperation with the countries of the western Balkans, as they are important business partners, the CCIS President Jozko Cuk said at a launch of a seminar gathering representatives of chambers of commerce from the region at Catez ob Savi on Friday, 17 September.

The CCIS organised the event to brief counterparts from the former Yugoslav republics about Slovenia's experience in joining the EU.

The seminar makes part of the CCIS project dubbed European School for Chambers of Commerce of the Western Balkans, which the CCIS carries out in cooperation with the Great Britain-based Global Opportunity Fund.

As the CCIS President Cuk highlighted, Slovenia would like to see intensive business cooperation with countries of the western Balkans, which will be further boosted by their accession to the EU.

In addition to increasing the volume of trade, the CCIS would like to see more joint ventures in the region and more investments of the region's companies in Slovenia.

Representatives of commerce chambers from Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia meanwhile voiced satisfaction over good cooperation with the CCIS, and expressed wish for more trade and investments.

According to Kemal Grebo, president of the Sarajevo chamber of commerce, Bosnia-Herzegovina considers Slovenian companies as important investors, but would like to see more foreign direct investment.

In order to boost FDI, the region's chambers of commerce are learning how to help their companies in their bid to penetrate European markets, Grebo explained.

Nemina Ljubovic of the Belgrade chamber of commerce said that Serbia has had especially good experience with Slovenian retailer Mercator and would like to see more cooperation of the sort.

A presentation of business operations and plans of two major Slovenian companies, retailer Mercator and spa manager Terme Catez, wrapped up a two-day business conference on Slovenia's experience with EU accession on Saturday, 18 September, which saw attendance by some 50 chamber of commerce officials and businessmen from the former Yugoslav republics.

The seminar, held at Catez ob Savi, makes part of the CCIS project dubbed European School for Chambers of Commerce of the Western Balkans, which the CCIS carries out in cooperation with the Great Britain-based Global Opportunity Fund.

Experience of Terme Catez in efforts to invest in the former Yugoslav republics attracted a lot of attention, especially since the company's chief executive Borut Mokrovic said his company is willing to build large spa centres in all the countries in the region.

Yet he also stressed that Terme Catez has had a lot of bad experience, and that a lot of energy has been wasted on failed projects. Mokrovic listed local and political resistance to investments, while Mercator added to the list the difficulty of getting good land, and unclear ownership relations.

According to Kemal Grebo, the president of the chamber of commerce of the Sarajevo canton, the conference was a great opportunity for the participants to get to know Slovenia's experience on the path to the EU.

According to the CCIS figures, 19 percent of Slovenia's exports go to the region of Southeastern Europe, while the region accounts for 6 percent of Slovenia's imports.

Slovenia has invested EUR 2bn in the region so far, with some 600 joint ventures currently operating in the area of former Yugoslavia. This year, Slovenian investments are expected to top EUR 220m, namely EUR 70m in Croatia, EUR 60m in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia-Montenegro each, and EUR 30m in Macedonia.

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Author: STA