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In times of dynamic globalisation, rapid change and ever growing international competition, Slovene diplomacy helps its companies go global. The Slovenian foreign minister dr. Miro Cerar explains why economic diplomacy pays such an important role in Slovenia’s economy. 

Economic diplomacy is a relatively new governmental policy in Slovenia. It serves as much more than simply promoting Slovenia as economically prosperous. The main mission of economic diplomacy is internationalisation of Slovene economy – this means offering practical guidance and know-how for Slovene businesses going global.

For a long time, different economic internationalisation policies were divided among several ministries, institutions and state agencies. In the wake of Europe’s debt and sovereignty crisis, markets shrank and the government felt the need for a more integrated approach in helping Slovene exports survive the turbulent times.

Uniting different economic internationalisation policies under the Directorate of Economic Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was at the time of the crisis a move that demonstrated political will to help the strongly export-oriented Slovene economy survive.

The former Prime Minister and newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs dr. Miro Cerar emphasises that economic diplomacy must and should always act as a strong service to businesses

“Only with coordinated effort we can achieve efficient transfer of Slovene's economy accomplishments to foreign markets. Ministry of Foreign Affairs is doing everything it can to provide quality support to companies who want to expand their business to foreign markets”

Towards the diversification of Slovenian exports

“Economic diplomacy will also direct its activities at internationalisation of innovative companies as well as technologically and scientifically advanced companies”

In recent economic crisis, it became apparent that poor market diversification was one the main shortcomings of the Slovenian export economy, exposing its over dependence on markets within the European Union. To be better prepared for future economic oscillations, Slovene exports must diversify by entering new markets and industries. United States, China, Japan, South Korea as well as some Gulf, Subsaharan and South American states, are such “new markets”, says dr. Cerar, adding the government would support Slovene companies to penetrate those markets. New industries – such as high technological companies – are the ones the government wants to prioritise because of their added value to the society.

The Directorate of Economic Diplomacy is also working closely with other state’s offices on strengthening the brand I feel Slovenia in order to promote the country as a tourist destination and economic partner.

To better execute all these activities the Ministry needs additional finance and personnel and Dr. Cerar confirms the Ministry is already planning to gradually increase the number of economic advisers at consulates around the world.

A less common way to conduct economic diplomacy, is businessmen accompanying highest state representatives, such as Prime Minister or President, on state visits abroad. The challenge, however, is that this type of economic diplomacy works only in some parts of the world. In western democracies, it does not have a real impact especially for SMEs. Information about local legislation, bureaucracy, trends and other useful “tips” are more helpful to medium and small size companies, and embassies and consulates can provide them with practical knowledge when needed.

“The lesser the unknowns, the bigger the possibilities for success. Our representatives at embassies and consulates can be most helpful in addressing any issues as they are familiar with the situation on the ground and its possible implications for doing business”
“Slovenia is aware of its objectively limited possibilities in international diplomacy – a strong and common foreign and security policy of European Union is in our interest”

Economic stability and prosperity of the country and peace and stability in the region have always been in Slovenia’s national interest. The country still follows these basic postulates when considering entering different international alliances. It is exactly due to these shared basic principles that Slovenia entered the European Union almost 15 years ago, dr. Cerar emphasises. Now it is also in this respect that Slovenia relies strongly on European Union’s common foreign and security policies.

Slovene diplomacy traditionally dedicates a lot of attention to important and sensitive human rights issues – such as the rights of women, children and elderly. Within multilateral forums, says dr. Cerar, Slovenia is working hard on national minorities issues. It is supporting multilateralism within United Nations and intercultural dialogue. In international climate policies, Slovenia’s main interests are closely linked to the country’s natural resources. Conservation of bio diversity, forests and waters are the country’s top priority.

This is the first part of the interview. The second part will be published on Tuesday, 12 February 2019.
Full interview was published in the annual The Adriatic Journal: Strategic Foresight 2019 magazine. To get a copy of the magazine, contact info@adriaticjournal.com

Adriatic Journal


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