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Slovenia:minister to ANSA,we are growing,but we fear tariffs

The labor shortage is also worrisome

16 July, 11:38
(by Andrea Pierini) (ANSA) - TRIESTE, JULY 16 - Trade tariffs on exports and labor shortage. These two issues could have important repercussions on Slovenian economy, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek told ANSA.

But let's start from the crisis that has hit Europe in recent years, how is Slovenia's economy today? "In the last five years, Slovenia is recording a growth in the economy which is 4,5% above the European average. The forecasts for the coming years are excellent; above 3%. We are an exporting country: 84% of what we produce goes abroad and out of all this, 80% goes to the EU member countries and 20% to the rest of the world. Exports continue to drive our growth in the main sectors and the goal is to continue to maintain this market share".

What could endanger your economy? "We could face two major threats: the first may come essentially from the outside of our country, on which we cannot have any influence at all. The second threat is, instead, something we can prevent. The external threat is certainly linked to trade wars between the United States and the rest of the world, above all for the potential introduction of trade tariffs, but we hope that wisdom prevails and that we can overcome this danger because we cannot oppose it".

You mentioned a second threat, what is it? "This threat may arise from inside and affects growth: the labor shortage. Slovenia has experienced a steady fall in unemployment which stood at 4.4%, but the labor shortage is a problem that we must address and we can do it through the following actions: working on employment centers, stimulating the inclusion of the active population, favoring the reintegration of pensioners into the labor market, allowing pensions to be added to a salary, and stimulating the entry of young people into the labor market. In the latter field, we have not yet achieved the desired results.

Finally, we should try to import workers from abroad trying to attract people who are culturally similar to us".

Do you mean the citizens of the Balkan area? "Yes Balkans, and I will not dwell on it now".

Many collaborations involve Friuli Venezia Giulia, especially with regard to tourism. And what about the rest of Italy? "Tourism is an important sector, but it is not ranked first in our trade and economic relations. Trade has recorded strong growth, reaching 10bn euros and with a good balance between import and export. The tourism sector plays an important role and is one of the main sectors of economic collaboration, with 600,000 Italian tourists who come to Slovenia for 1.4m overnight stays per year, Let's not forget the economic investments of Italian companies in Slovenia, totaling 1.2bn, whereas Slovenian companies invest 105m million euros in Italy. That's why we are working to encourage investments in Italy, in order to try to balance this relationship. The neighboring regions are all very interesting to us: Lombardy comes first, then Veneto and finally Friuli Venezia Giulia".

And how are relations with Friuli Venezia Giulia going? "Cooperation is important to us, and above all, at a cross-border level and in this field we have many interests in common. Above all, I deem the Mount Canin project very important, since it involves an area with huge potential, but we need joint Italy Slovenia investments to relaunch a heritage which has been forgotten for too many years. We then have the Via della pace, the pedestrian and bicycle paths with the Parenzana connecting Italy, Slovenia, and Austria. The trilateral agreements involving Slovenia, Italy and Austria will allow us to compete with global competitors, but only if we are able to create a synergy in order to explain to tourists all over the world how nice and interesting is this tiny slice of land where different cultures and languages meet and live together".

What should be the role of the Slovenian community in Italy? "The Slovenian community in Italy is a bridge between our two countries not only in terms of culture and national ties but also in terms of economy. So I must say that I am happy with the fact that Slovenian economy has achieved such a balance to allow economic growth also within the Slovenian community in Italy, which I consider as a further key to growth in general".


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