STA, 11 September 2019 - The energy company Petrol signed cooperation contracts with Russia's T Plus Grupa and Schneider Electric at a Slovenian-Russian business meeting held in Moscow on Tuesday as part of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's visit to the country.
Petrol will cooperate with the two Russian companies in energy efficiency. According to Petrol CEO Tomaž Berločnik, the projects will focus on optimisation of district heating.
The project with T Plus Grupa will be carried out in Izhevsk, and the other in Yekaterinburg, where Petrol will set up specialised software and provide IT support.
"Thus we will reduce energy use and optimise operative costs," Berločnik explained. According to him, the two projects are worth "a few million euro" and potentially tens of million in the future.
The business meeting, hosted by Šarec, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, Labour Minister Ksenija Klampfer and Russian Digital Development Minister Konstantin Noskov, featured nine other Slovenian companies that already operate on the Russian market.
In his address, Šarec highlighted the two biggest Slovenian investors in Russia, the pharma company Krka and ICT company Iskratel.
According to Krka CEO Jože Colarič, Krka's sales in Russia will reach almost EUR 300 million this year, which is about 40% of Slovenia's total exports to the country.
Also represented at the meeting were the telecoms equipment maker Comita, air dome maker Duol, sports equipment manufacturer Elan Inventa, gas wholesaler Geoplin, industrial group Kolektor, engineering company Riko and steel group SIJ.
Šarec said that despite the EU's sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis Slovenia as en export-oriented economy was very much interested in the strengthening of economic cooperation with Russia.
He said there were many opportunities to enhance ties in high-tech and called for a joint foray into third markets.
Počivalšek echoed this call and pointed to potential for cooperation in energy, pharmaceuticals, automation and tourism, especially spas.
The economy minister noted that in 2018, bilateral trade in goods reached EUR 1.16 billion, of which EUR 790 million was Slovenia's exports and EUR 370 million imports.
In the first six months of this year, Slovenia's exports to Russia almost reached EUR 750 million. The exports are slowly approaching the 2013 level and the one billion euro milestone, Počivalšek assessed.
Currently, 38 Slovenian companies are present in Russia with total direct investments of EUR 357 million, which is 5% of Slovenia's total external investment, the minister said.
In turn, Russian companies mostly invest in the financial, metal and spa industries in Slovenia. Russian indirect investments in Slovenia top EUR 538 million.
Počivalšek called on Russian companies to increase their investment in Slovenia and take part in the final phase of privatisation of some 110 companies.
"We are striving to create a competitive environment for domestic and foreign investors and want to be green, creative and smart," the minister said.
Talking to the STA on the sidelines of the event, he rejected criticism that the strengthening of relations with Russia could have a negative impact on Slovenia's relations with its other alleys.
"Slovenia is an export-oriented economy. Out of last year's GDP, which reached EUR 46 billion, exports totalled 39 billion, which is 85%. And 80% of the exports was generated in EU markets. We're not neglecting any markets. And the Russian market is important to us," he stressed.
Slovenia's top market is the EU, the Western Balkans comes second, and China has already overtaken Russia, which is thus our fourth most important market, he added.
Cerar and Noskov, who head the intergovernmental economy commission, also addressed the participants of the business forum. Cerar stressed the importance of the "friendly atmosphere" between Slovenian and Russia, and Noskov assessed that the future of the bilateral economic relations was bright.