Spoštovani Gospod Minister, Ekscelenca Veleposlanik, Gospodarstveniki, Dame in Gospodje

Spoštovani Gospod Minister, Ekscelenca Veleposlanik, Gospodarstveniki, Dame in Gospodje

Address by Minister of the Economy of the Republic of Slovenia Andrej Vizjak at the formal opening of the Polish-Slovene Business Conference

Warsaw, 14May 2007

Deputy Minister, ……Distinguished President of the Polish Chamber of Commerce, …….EsteemedBusiness Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is both a great pleasure and honourto address you on behalf of the government of the Republic of Slovenia at this business conference dedicated to strengthening of Slovenian-Polish economic relations. Seeing how many of you have gathered here today, shows that economic relations between our two countries are excellent and that interest to further enhance and strengthen our cooperation is strong, as is also true for various other aspects of political, and cultural cooperation.

In the past, both Slovenia and Poland cooperated in the framework of CEFTA (Central European Free Trade Agreement), which not only strengthened economic relations between the contracting parties but also made a significant contribution to the process of European integration.

Today, our political cooperation is primarily conducted through the framework of the EU, whereby I am delighted to acknowledge that Slovenia and Poland, both new members to the EU and NATO,share similar values and goals about actual European issues and have built a strong cooperation in decision making processes within thisframework. We share a common interest in both bilateral and multilateral international activities contributing to international stability and efficiency of international institutions and organizations.

The representatives to the EU of both Poland and Sloveniahave already proven to be good partners with keen interests in common prosperity and thriving of the Union.

During our first few years of EU membership Slovenia has already achieved some important milestones, the first one being the adoption of the euro on January 1st2007. By strengthening its marked economy and price stability, Slovenia fulfilled the criteria for accession into the Euro area and is already reaping the benefits of the common currency. Another milestone is destined to be reached by the end of 2007, namely the accession to the Schengen area. Slovenia’s EU presidency in the first half of 2008 is also envisaged to be a milestone on our EU path, since we shall be the first of the new member countries to assume the presidency after the EU enlargement of 2004. The presidency poses a great challenge probably the greatest in our country’s modern history since the acquisition of independence in 1991. The EU presidency proves to be an extremely demanding national project in terms of content, organisation and allocation of funds, though we are confident in our efforts to dedicate all our strengths to making this project a success.

Allow me to continue by presenting some fundamental characteristics of our national economy, its current state and policies for its future development.

I am proud to say that Slovenia was successful in its transition from socialism to a market economy. Throughout the transition period in the nineties, Slovenia's economic development achieved favourable economic results, providing a strong basis for further development.

In the past few years Slovenia recorded relatively high and robust economic growth, higher than the EU average. In 2006 the GDP real growth rate reached 5.2 %, whereas estimation for 2007 is 4,7%. In the same year Slovenian GDP exceeded 20.000 euros per capita in purchasing power parity.

Investments continued to play a crucial role in domestic business activity in 2006 as Slovenia saw outstandingly positive foreign trade developments, surpassing all expectations. Slovenian economy ranks high among the countries with the lowest degree of risk and is becoming progressively more attractive to foreign investors due to its open and competitive economy, skilled workforce, well-developed infrastructure and high quality of life, as well as its geo-strategic position.

With regard to economic and trade relations between Slovenia and Poland, I am delighted to see that our cooperation is developing successfully. Polandranks high as a very important export trade partner of Slovenia. In 2006 the total volume of trade exchange between Slovenia and Poland amounted almost to 800 million euros, rankingPoland on the 13th place among Slovenia’s foreign trade partners. On the other side our export to Poland amounted to almost 500 million eurosin 2006.Both, export and import have been increasing significantly in the past few years. Both exchange of services and goods feature apositive trend. The total exchange of services between our two countries amounted over 60 million euros in 2006.

Regarding Slovene investments to Poland, we have been recording major movements of capital into new production capacities and other forms of investment. Poland, with the amount of 133 million euros of foreign direct investments,ranks on the 5th place among the most attractive locations for Slovenian investors.

Polish investments to Slovenia haveamounted to 500.000 euro leaving a great potential for additional investment activities, which would be greatly appreciated and welcomed on our behalf.

Attracting foreign investments is set as one of important priorities of the present Government, hence we are planning to continue to strengthen activities which are aimed to increase attractiveness of Slovenia as a location for foreign investments through promotion, services for foreign investors and financial incentives for foreign investors.

Prospective sectors worth outlining for future foreign investments would be the automotive industry, tourism, energy and power supply, information technology and communications, research and development, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, electronic and electrical industries, logistics and distribution, and other services and consultancy activities.

Sloveniainvests a substantial amount of resources into infrastructural development, with the aim of creating better and faster links with all parts of Europe. Due to our geo-strategic location and advantages, foreign investors could increasingly use the opportunity to make good use of Slovenia’s position as a logistic and distribution centre for other neighbouring markets.

The strategic position, historical links and knowledge of foreign languages, could serve the Polish companies to use Slovenia as a starting-point for entering thesouth-eastern European markets. At the same time knowledge of the regional markets acquired by Slovene partners would also be available.

With the consideration of the not yet fully used potential of both economies,I feel confident that prospects of strengthening and expanding our future cooperation are excellent.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am firmly convinced that today’s event will enhance economic and political cooperation between our countries, mainly by supporting the creation of new and reaffirmation of already existing contacts between our business representatives, contributing to a favourable atmosphere for investment, enabling the exchange of information and developing entrepreneurship.

I wish both Polish and Slovene Business Representatives successful and productive talks.

Thank you for your attention.