Slovenian-French Business Forum explores cooperation opportunities
Kranjska Gora, 3 March - A Slovenian-French Business Forum in Kranjska Gora heard on Friday that Slovenian-French economic cooperation is excellent, while there are still many opportunities to upgrade it. France is a large market that Slovenian companies are mostly familiar with. Moreover, both countries are striving for the EU's re-industrialisation.
Economy Ministry State Secretary Dejan Židan said Slovenia and France agreed about the need to reduce our dependence on third countries. The share of industry in Slovenia's GDP is 24%, which makes it one of the leading industrial countries in the EU.
The EU average is only 16%, which shows that the EU has made mistakes in this area over the past decades. This was particularly evident during the period of Covid-19, when supply routes were disrupted, Židan pointed out.
He argued the EU will need to re-industrialise, with the main topic here being the Chip Act. The EU produces only 10% of the world's chips, while consuming much more, and should thus increase its share to 20% in the coming years to achieve greater security of supply.
There are also problems in battery production, in absence of which e-mobility will not be met. There are opportunities for the two countries to work together in these areas, as well as in many others, Židan said.
France is Slovenia's top ten foreign trade partner and is listed as a priority foreign market in the government's plan for the internationalisation of the Slovenian economy, said Rok Capl, the acting director of the SPIRIT investment promotion agency, which has also been active on the French market for many years.
Almost 1,000 Slovenian companies export to France, and more than 70 companies with French capital operate in Slovenia. France offers many opportunities for exporters, including in the food and nutrition industry, pharmaceuticals, microelectronics, logistics and medical equipment, Capl pointed out.
Sectors with great potential include call centres, biotechnology, telecommunications, the ICT sector, e-commerce, e-mobility, advanced manufacturing, smart cities and the environment, he added.
French Ambassador to Slovenia Florence Levy agreed, citing sport as another area where she sees opportunities for cooperation, for instance in the production of sports equipment, from ski to cycling equipment. "Let's not forget that France is hosting the Olympics next year, so sport will be at the forefront," she said.
The ambassador also presented France's economic strategy, which, she said, had made France one of the most competitive countries in the world last year. She pointed to the challenges facing France and the EU, ranging from the disruption of supply chains, uncertainty in markets and unfair practices by some countries.
France wants to boost innovation, retain employment and re-industrialise the economy, while of course honouring environmental requirements. There are also many opportunities for Slovenian companies to participate in this field, Levy said.
The forum, organised by SPIRIT, the French Embassy in Slovenia, the French-Slovenian Business Club in Slovenia and the Slovenian-French Business Club in Paris, continued with a panel discussion on how to encourage Slovenian companies to export to France.
The meeting concluded with presentations of individual companies, of the two clubs and with bilateral talks.