Welcome Address by Mr Andrej Vizjak, Minister of the Economy of ...

mgrt.gov.si
  • No tags were found...

Welcome Address by Mr Andrej Vizjak, Minister of the Economy of ...

Welcome Address by Mr Andrej Vizjak,Minister of the Economy of the Republic of Slovenia,at the meeting of the Stability Pact Working Group on TradeLjubljana, 19 July 2006Ladies and Gentlemen,It is a great pleasure for me to greet you here in Ljubljana at the already twenty-secondmeeting of the group. I have been told that this Stability Pact working group on tradeliberalisation and facilitation has always been very active. The number of the meetingscould prove this but even more important are the results achieved within this workinggroup. The group was established in the year 2000 and after six years it has to show alot. I am glad that Slovenia has participated as a supporting country from the verybeginning. In such a short time more than thirty (30) bilateral free trade agreementshave been signed and implemented between nine (9) Stability Pact countries andterritories. The vision of the future is even more ambitious: the region has decided tonegotiate and conclude only one single agreement in a form of a new enlarged andamended CEFTA.It is fair to admit that the region countries have really put all their efforts to accomplishthis process. Without this firm commitment and true intention to establish a free tradezone no such results would have been achieved. The European Commission also fullysupports this initiative. As the experience of the European Union itself shows, thebenefits of regional integration are considerable: a single market is more attractive toforeign investors; increased but fair competition enhances the economic development.As you might know Slovenia has always been keen on having a free trade with asmany trade partner countries as possible. Before the accession to the European Unionmore than eighty (80) percent of the trade was carried out on the free basis. After theaccession to the EU in 2004 all bilateral free trade agreements ceased to apply.Fortunately, the stabilisation and association process has started between the EU andSouth Eastern European region and it has always been strongly supported by Slovenia.Slovenia is supporting sincerely the European perspective of the South EasternEuropean countries.Some important steps have been done recently: opening of accession negotiations withCroatia, granting candidate status to Macedonia, conclusion of a Stabilisation andAssociation Agreement with Albania, opening of stabilisation and associationagreement negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. Thepolitical process for reaching a decision on Kosovo’s future status has begun. Twocountries (Bulgaria and Romania) have successfully completed the accessionnegotiations and the accession treaties were signed. They are currently waiting for the


last report on the progress made that would, hopefully, enable their accession to theEU on 1 January 2007.The region of South-Eastern Europe has always been of vital importance for Slovenia.Though the Slovenian foreign trade is outstandingly oriented to the EU market, theBalkan countries (Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia andMontenegro) are the second most important region with regard to the volume of theforeign trade, thus representing 17% of our total exports and 6.5% of our imports.More than a half of the “real” exports (outside of the EU) is directed to this region.Slovenia was a CEFTA Party from 1996 till the accession to the EU. CEFTA was avery good and useful experience. As a result of CEFTA, mutual trade had increasedsubstantially. We believe that such an agreement will have positive consequences forall also in the future. Implementation of the bilateral agreements would not besatisfactory. That is why Slovenia supports the idea of a single free trade agreementfor the South Eastern European region. The idea has also been supported by all regioncountries and confirmed by the declaration on 6 April 2006 at the meeting of the PrimeMinisters in Bucharest. The Prime Ministers of the South-Eastern European countrieswere of the opinion that CEFTA had over the past thirteen (13) years contributed a lotto preparing its Parties to eventual accession to the EU. I can share their view withouthesitation.Slovenia is very much in favour of such an agreement believing it will offer a betterbasis for the investments increase. Slovenia is already now one of the biggest investorsin the region. The value of FDI of the Slovenian companies in the countries of WesternBalkans amounted to 1,3 billion EUR (in 2004), thus representing 57% of allSlovenian FDI-s. The most attractive destination of the Slovenian investments remainsCroatia.To negotiate and conclude a new single free trade agreement that will include alsoprovisions on modern trade policy issues, such as competition rules and state aid,government procurement and protection of intellectual property, trade in services,procedures for dispute settlement, is an ambitious programme. Achieving a free tradearea is in fact a complex task. It requires appropriate political commitment toimplement the rules of the game. Pursuing liberalisation of services in the near futurewill be an additional boost to market access and a contribution to increasing trade andinvestment.Let me conclude by congratulating your governments, your administrations and theinternational community for making this endeavour a success. I hope this meeting willcontribute to the progress of the process.Thank you for your attention.2

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines