ALREADY 15 years have gone by since the French-Slovak Chamber of Commerce was launched. During these years it has helped to develop business cooperation between France and Slovakia as well as bilateral trade contacts between French and Slovak companies and it has also assisted many French companies to launch investments in Slovakia.
The Slovak Spectator spoke to Anton Berith, director of the French-Slovak Chamber of Commerce, about the chamber’s activities over past years as well as its plans for the future.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): The chamber has just turned 15 years old. Could you please assess the operation of the chamber over this time period?
Anton Berith (AB): Since its launch the chamber has focused on regular and intensive work for the benefit of its members and for the benefit of further development of French-Slovak cooperation. The number of members of the chamber has increased gradually, and now we have about 235 members.
The chamber, along with other institutions, has contributed to the development of mutually beneficial trade and growth in the share of French investments made in Slovakia.
Key members of the French-Slovak Chamber of Commerce are renowned French companies like GDF Suez, Orange, PSA Peugeot Citroën in Trnava, Dalkia, BC Torsion, Calyon, and importers of Peugeot, Citroën and Renault autos as well as many others. There are also banks and Slovak companies operating in industry, trade and services which are among our members.
TSS: What are the plans of the chamber for the future?
AB: In the future we want to continue organising business breakfasts between representatives of French businesses and Slovak ministries and institutions.
We also want to intensify organising of the so-called Francophone Trade Centres in the regions of Slovakia. These are meetings between entrepreneurs and members of the chamber on various themes, at which our members have a quite big space for presentations. We want to carry out these sessions both outside and in Bratislava in cooperation with other mixed chambers, including the so-called business mixers. These functions provide space for exchange of experiences between business people from various countries, including Slovaks.
TSS: What services does the chamber offer to its members during this financial and economic downturn?
AB: We have organised a number of meetings for our members focused on management of crisis situations, securing claims and selection and evaluation of clients. We have also published related information in the chamber’s monthly.
TSS: The arrival of PSA Peugeot Citroën in Trnava has drawn a number of other French investors to Slovakia, for example subcontractors as well as logistics companies. How do you view the prospect of further French investors coming into this or other economic sectors in Slovakia?
AB: In the automotive sector, after the decision to launch the PSA Peugeot Citroën assembly plant in Trnava, many subcontractors from France and other countries ‘moved’ in. Their transfer of production here was inevitable in order to provide fluent supplies of components. The automobile sector does not count on further new investments, but those companies that are here will, in all probability, remain.
New investments may be linked to construction of roads and tunnels, energy, the environment, and maybe also the food industry and tourism. I do not see any obstacles to such investments.
TSS: How has the crisis influenced French investments in Slovakia?
AB: The crisis makes all businesspeople more cautious but no departures from Slovakia have been announced. Rather, in a survey we conducted among businesspeople there were voices saying that if they had to decide whether they would invest in Slovakia again, they would do so.
TSS: How has Slovakia’s adoption of the European single currency influenced cooperation between France and Slovakia?
AB: The French business community has perceived Slovakia’s adoption of the euro very favourably.
22. Jun 2009 at 0:00 | Jana Liptáková