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Foreign Direct Investment

Slovenia is completely open to foreign investment, in accordance with the principles of the European Union and the OECD, and does not discriminate between national and foreign investors. According to UNCTAD's 2021 World Investment Report, FDI inflows to Slovenia decreased from USD 1.2 billion in 2019 to USD 529 million in 2020, following the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The total stock of FDI was estimated at USD 20.4 billion in 2020. In regional terms, the highest concentration of FDI inflow is in the region of Central Slovenia. According to data by OECD, the majority of FDI stocks to Slovenia come from Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Germany. However, Germany holds the majority of indirect investments in Slovenia via Austrian subsidiaries; while the US is also an important investor, with the majority of the investments being held indirectly via subsidiaries in Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland. The sectors that attract the most FDI are manufacturing, financial and insurance services, wholesale and retail, and real estate. According to the latest figures from OECD, in the first semester of 2021 FDI inflows totalled USD 1.3 billion, up from USD 322 million recorded in the same period one year earlier. Slovenia’s most important sources for direct foreign investment were Austria (24.7%), Luxembourg (13.0%), Switzerland (11.4%), Germany (8.5%), and Italy (7.9%).

Foreign investment has strongly declined due to the international economic crisis of 2008-2009 and the difficulties in Europe since 2011. In the period 2014-2020, under the Investment Plan for Europe Programme of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, projects have been started in the energy sector, rail infrastructure, and for a regional centre of sewage treatment and waste. The country has a strategic location by the Adriatic Sea, along with developed infrastructures and a well-educated workforce. In 2020, the national government introduced a screening mechanism for FDIs even for EU persons, which are obliged to notify the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology of any significant investment in Slovenia in certain strategic sectors (including infrastructure, technologies, and dual-use items, the supply of critical resources, media, etc.). Slovenia ranks 37th out of 190 economies in terms of ease of doing business in the latest Doing Business report by the World Bank (gaining three positions compared to the previous year) and 35th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index.

Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 1,4632061,517
FDI Stock (million USD) 18,17520,32920,043
Number of Greenfield Investments* 221211
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 456475108

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Slovenia Eastern Europe & Central Asia United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 5.0 7.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 9.0 5.0 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 8.0 6.8 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.


What to consider if you invest in Slovenia

Strong Points

Slovenia has many assets including:

  • Strong political stability and good international relations reinforced by the country's accession to the European Union
  • The adoption of the euro since 1 January 2009, which made it possible to eliminate the risks associated with the exchange rate
  • A performing economy based in particular on a sustained growth rate (Coface forecasts a 4.9% growth rate in 2021), low inflation, excess external accounts since 2012 and very satisfactory recovery of tax revenues after the stock market crash of 2013
  • The economy is more diversified and fits perfectly into the European production chain.
  • Overall, the business environment is pro-business as evidenced by the country's 37th place in the 2020 Doing Business ranking.
  • The geographical location in the heart of Europe, which gives companies in the country easy access to regional markets
  • Quality infrastructure
Weak Points

Slovenia still faces a number of challenges, slowing the attractiveness of FDI, including:

  • Very high government debt of 80.9% of GDP (OECD, 2021)
  • Banking sector still recovering and remains vulnerable
  • Reforms that are struggling to emerge because of frequent government instability
  • A small domestic market
  • Several formal and informal barriers to FDI (including high taxation and high social security contributions)
  • Significant exposure to global economic fluctuations
  • Exports are highly dependent on the EU economic climate
  • A labour force shortage due to an ever-ageing population and stagnant population growth
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
Slovenia has an ambivalent attitude towards FDI, which swings between openness and caution towards foreign investors. As a result, the government is trying to establish measures that would have a positive effect on job creation, knowledge and technology transfer and improved regional development, and could stimulate alliances between Slovenian companies and foreign investors.

State-owned concessions are available for investments of more than €500 000 in industry sectors, strategic services (customer service centres, distribution logistics centres, regional headquarters), research and development. The most sought-after investments are in so-called "green" technologies.

The government is trying to attract foreign investment in some underdeveloped and economically fragile regions. In addition, since 2013 the corporate tax has decreased (17%). Finally, the government has initiated the privatisation of several state-owned enterprises.

In Slovenia, the only free trade zone (FTZ) is the port of Koper. According to the Slovenian Customs Act, those trading in free trade zones are not required to pay customs duties and are not subject to any additional trade policy measures until the goods are brought into free circulation.