Last year, Slovenia classified the USA among the priority markets in which the nation wants to strengthen economic cooperation. This September, a Slovene political-economic delegation under the management of the Minister of the Civil Service, Boris Koprivnikar, sought out new business opportunities across the Atlantic when they visited several companies in Silicon Valley.
The delegation visited the IBM SW Executive Briefing Center, Cisco, HPE, Nasa, BCG Digital Ventures Center, Microsoft, Salesforce, Uber, Celtra, Tesla, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google. They also visited Stanford University and attended the official opening of the ABC Accelerator in Silicon Valley. An equally important economic delegation accompanied the Slovenian Prime Minister, Miro Cerar, during his visit to the United States of America last December.
900 million dollars exceeded for the second time
Last year, the United States of America was ranked 15th on the list of foreign trade partners of Slovenia. Trade in goods between the two countries exceeded 920 million dollars. Data from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia shows this trade increased by 17.4 per cent compared to 2014.
The trade of goods between the USA and Slovenia has thus exceeded the 900 million dollar mark for the second time in the last decade. It first happened in 2011 when the value of the trade of goods between the two countries came close to 910 million dollars.
The Slovenian total trade of goods exceeded 52 billion dollars last year, of which sales by Slovenian companies in foreign markets accounted for more than 26.77 billion dollars.
Other important export partners of Slovenia in the past year were Germany, where Slovenian companies created 20.6 per cent of the entire sales abroad or 5.53 billion dollars; Italy, where Slovenian exporters produced 11.2 per cent of their income or more than 3 billion dollars; and Austria, which accounted for an 8.5 per cent share of Slovenian export income. Slovenian exporters sold more than 2.23 billion dollars’ worth of goods to Austria last year.
Dynamic exchange of goods between the USA and Slovenia
Slovenian companies exported almost 551 million dollars’ worth of goods to the USA in the past year, and imported 295.7 million dollars’ worth. Slovene exports to the USA increased by 12.9 per cent in 2015 (19 per cent more than two years ago), and imports increased by a quarter after they dropped by 32 per cent the year before. Slovenian trade with the USA showed a 1.7 per cent share last year in total.
“Since many Slovenian products ‘roam’ to the USA through third countries, the exact number on the value of trade of goods between the USA and Slovenia is practically impossible to determine,” commented Marko Jare, head of the International Business Centre at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, regarding goods trade between the countries. He also added that the USA is the second most important export market outside the European Union for Slovenia, right after the Russian Federation, where Slovenian exports in 2015 dropped by one fifth compared to the previous year.
Service exchange increased by almost one third
The value of the service exchange between the USA and Slovenia reached 257 million dollars last year, a 30 per cent increase compared to the previous year.
Slovenian exports of services to the USA, with transport, travel, telecommunications, computer and IT services dominating the field, accounted for almost 151 million dollars.
Data from the Slovenian central bank, the Bank of Slovenia, shows that the largest share of services included in Slovenian imports from the USA, amounting to 106 million dollars in total, was in travel, other business services and compensation for intellectual use.
Possibilities for cooperation still underexploited
“The most successful Slovenian companies servicing the American market are the ones who export innovative products (or services) of excellent quality to the USA, with modern design and appropriate (competitive) prices, and which also meet American regulations,” says Marko Jare from the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce.
And how well are Slovenian companies using the possibilities offered by the US market? According to SPIRIT Slovenia, which monitors the internationalization of Slovenian companies and operates within the Slovenian Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, “Slovenian companies could take more advantage of the possibilities offered by the American market.”
The Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a similar statement: “Slovenian companies are still not sufficiently realizing the great potential offered by this large and distant market. This is despite the fact that this is a market Slovenian companies, with specific specialized products, actually need. Since the distance and transport costs are no longer an obstacle, the US market is becoming increasingly more interesting to Slovenian businesses”.
Which sectors offer most opportunities?
According to SPIRIT Slovenia, the following Slovenian industrial sectors have the most appeal to the American market: car industry, healthcare equipment, environment protection equipment, computer hardware and software, ICT, chemical and pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology, metal production and processing, agro-industrial industry, green technologies sector (water power, solar power, wind power, electric mobility).
They also add that possibilities in the USA are also opening up in digitalization and in technologies pertaining to renewable energy sources. Energetics (photovoltaics) and green or environmental technologies are also industries of interest.
More business with mutual knowledge
“For the USA and Slovenia to make greater use of the business opportunities available to both countries, mutual knowledge is very important,” states the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
They add: “It is crucial for America to learn about Slovenia and the opportunities it offers - through tourism and through individual successful Slovenian companies operating in the American market and via the positive reports of American companies already operating in Slovenia. Economic delegations organized annually by the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia, otherwise known as AmCham Slovenia, and SPIRIT Slovenia are also welcome, along with participation at international trade fairs, which are the contact points for companies from across the globe.”
The American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia also sees the possibilities for additional increases in economic cooperation between the USA and Slovenia in the potential of Slovenia, a green reference country in the digital Europe initiative. “It brings an extraordinary opportunity for the Slovenian economy and the country to become the reference for a complete digital ecosystem,” emphasized Ajša Vodnik, executive manager at AmCham Slovenia.
She says that the interest in economic cooperation between the USA and Slovenia has been increasing lately, and concludes, “We are glad that we are meeting new investors in the market. But there are still many opportunities for growth. Particularly regarding US investment in Slovenia. We are also happy about the Slovenian stories going on in the USA. Among others, the opening of the ABC Accelerator Global Home in Silicon Valley, which will enable the greater expansion of innovative companies to Silicon Valley, the cradle of innovation and digital transformation”.