Economy of Slovenia: Alive and kicking

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Text: Žikica Milošević

Although it was always small, it was always hard-working. The resilience of Slovenian people was shown in the novel „Samonikli“, and it continues up to these days. The stubborn wish to survive under natural and political pressures made this Middle European nation one of the most prosperous in the world.

Merkator_Novi_Sad Bled_under_the_snow Koper_(38)

WHAT A MISJUDGEMENT!

Slovenia had a rough start, just like pretty much every country in the Alpine-Adriatic region. In the earlier times, with no tourism on the horizon, mountains and coastline were not highly appreciated. Not even with all these fish and cheese. Jovan Dučić, for instance, with all his wit, failed to grasp the importance of the coastline. He objected King Alexander I for taking over Adriatic coast deeming it „vast and barren“, full of poor fishermen. Serbian politicians often mocked King Nicholas II of Montenegro for being a „king of hungry mounts“. English writers wrote that „the nicest view in Scotland is a road to England“. Obviously, mountains and the coast of Alba were not appreciated. Well, what a misjudgement! Fist of all, times change. Sea trade accelerated. Ports are important. Port of Koper is one of the busiest in the region now, with million of containers circulating, being a hub for many countries in the outback. Second, there is a ski craze, dear guys. There is a wish for clean air, for a mountain getaway, away from smelly smoky cities and industry. And last, but not least, there is a craving for sunshine at the sea. And the Slovenia has it all, and the Slovenians formed up their character on the hardest possible backround, and became tough and hard-working with strong working ethic. They might still like Serbiam crazy parties or Croatian humour, but the other still want Slovenian high-class goods.

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LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA - MARCH 28:  A general view of the NLB Skupina Bank head office  on March 28, 2013 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Slovenia's one-week-old, centre-left government promised to continue with strict austerity measures to avoid becoming the Euro region's sixth member to require a bailout.  (Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

A general view of the NLB Skupina Bank head office on March 28, 2013 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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DEVELOPED. 83% DEVELOPED

In short, Slovenia today is a developed country that enjoys prosperity and stability as well as a GDP per capita at 83% of the EU28 average. It is much better than Romania or Bulgaria, for instance. It was the first new member of the European Union to adopt the euro as a currency in January 2007 and it has been a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development since 2010. Slovenia has a highly educated workforce, well-developed infrastructure, and is situated at a major transport crossroad. Just like Belgium, but different: it is bordered with a giant named Italy, close to another giant, Germany, and prosperous Austria, and on the main road towards Croatia, Serbia, Bulagria, Greece and further to Turkey and Middle East. On the other hand, the level of foreign direct investment is one of the lowest and the Slovenian economy has been severely hurt by the European economic crisis, which started in late 2000s. Almost two thirds of the working population are employed in services. It shows the rapid shift towards the tertiary sector after the fall of Socialism.

SMALL IS NOT NECESSARILY WEAK

Although it comprised only about one-eleventh of Yugoslavia’s total population, and 8% of its territory, it was the most productive of the Yugoslav republics, accounting for one-fifth of its GDP and one-third of its exports. It thus gained independence in 1991 with an already relatively prosperous economy and strong market ties to the West. Unfortunately, the major economic ties were in former Yugoslavia, torn by war for many years, and in the Eastern European markets, so Slovenia was badly hurt with the incapacity of the former Socialist countries to consume their goods, and the industry gradually faded away in some sectors. Since that time it has vigorously pursued diversification of its trade with the West and integration into Western and transatlantic institutions. Slovenia is a founding member of the World Trade Organization, joined CEFTA in 1996, and joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. The Economic Crisis of 2008 hit Slovenia hard, since in the meantime the major partner became the ill-fated Eurozone, which is struggling at the moment in some areas. Fiscal austerity was diminishing the domestic expenditure, and some Slovenians are nostalgic towards their own currency, tolar, sespising euro. Nevertheless, they are better off now. With the prospects of stability. And in a shaky world like this is, it is not a small thing.

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