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Slovenia Business Week no. 20/2005: Serbia and Slovenia Companies to Join Forces in SE Europe, Russia

Unlike Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro has free trade agreements with seven SE European countries and as the only country outside of the Commonwealth of Independent States also with Russia

A business conference on Monday, 9 May has suggested Slovenian and Serbian companies should consider entering the markets of South-Eastern Europe and Russia jointly. Unlike Slovenia, Serbia-Montenegro has free trade agreements with seven SE European countries and as the only country outside of the Commonwealth of Independent States also with Russia.

The conference, organised by the chambers of commerce from Slovenia and Serbia in Ljubljana on Monday, 9 May, pointed out that Serbia-Montenegro is Slovenia's 12th most important foreign trade partner, with trade totalling EUR 567.6m last year.

Milivoje Miletic of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that cooperation should be upgraded with joint penetration of third markets. According to him, the chamber compiled a list of concrete cooperation programmes and the funds needed.

The values of programmes differ, the highest in the field of infrastructure, Miletic said at the   conference. According to him, the main problem of Serbian companies is the lack of strategic partners.

Last year, Serbia generated 15.8% of its overall foreign trade in SE European countries, while trade with Russia represented 10.5% in the total of trade posted by Serbia-Montenegro, according to Miletic.

Under the free trade agreement between Serbia-Montenegro and Russia, 90% of products are tax-free, according to Dragana Jaukovic of Serbia-Monetengro's Ministry for International Economic Relations.

The agreement has not been enforced yet, since the Russian Duma has not ratified it yet, but it has been implemented since it was signed in August 2000, Jaukovic explained.

Tax duties in export from Serbia-Montenegro to Russia remain in force for cigarettes as products such as fresh meat, soap, white goods, some medicines, beer, cars and apple juice, but Jaukovic was hopeful that by the end of the year 98% of trade would be tax-free.

With EU entry, Slovenia lost the benefit of free trade regime with former Yugoslav republics. The country generates 12% of its foreign trade with SE European countries. Exports to these countries, mostly the former Yugoslavia, represent 20% of all Slovenian exports or substantially more than EUR 2bn.

Trade between Slovenia and Russia is expected to top one million US dollars this year, according to Matej Rogelj, head of the international cooperation department at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (CCIS).

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Author: STA