On the 6th of January, 2023, the Slovenian and Indian delegations met in Ljubljana for the 9th India-Slovenia Foreign Office Consultations, the first in-person FOC since 2010.
Commemorating 30 years of established India-Slovenia bilateral relations, the delegations held discourse on sectors of collaboration and exchange such as agriculture, health, science and technology, defence, climate innovation and global issues.
With the momentum of economic activities steadily inching towards post-pandemic normalcy, the time was ripe for a diplomatic gathering to review the progress made in the last year. At the head of the Indian delegacy was Sanjay Verma, Secretary (West) of the Ministry of External Affairs; Mr Samuel Žbogar, State Secretary for Political and Multilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, led the Slovenian delegation. The next FOC, as unanimously decided, will be held in India in 2024.
India-Slovenia Bilateral Relations
India and Slovenia, despite geographical distance, have forged strong diplomatic ties based on mutual interests on both political and economic fronts. Bilateral relations between the two nations go back to 1992, with India’s official accreditation of Slovenia and support for its membership at the UN. Since then, the countries have strengthened their ties through a multifaceted partnership in various crucial spheres like trade, science and technology, defence, education and culture.
Some of the MoUs between the two countries include:
- In September 2019, during the President of India's State Visit to Slovenia, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between IIT Kanpur and Space-SI (Slovenia) was signed. Its goal was to make it easier for the two institutions to work together on space technology and applications.
- India and Slovenia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the area of Public Sector Enterprise (PSE) Management on 3rd February 2024.
- Comprehensive Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion - The tax system aims to eliminate double taxation by offering tax credits or exemptions for residents of one country earning income in the other, defining residency for tax purposes and including provisions for information exchange to prevent fiscal evasion.
- Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement, 1993 - Both countries agreed to provide the most favoured nation treatment for customs duties, charges, internal taxes, and import regulations. The agreement aimed to eliminate tariffs and trade barriers gradually and encourage cooperation in various sectors like industry, agriculture, science and technology, and tourism. A Joint Committee was established to oversee the agreement's implementation and discuss further cooperation opportunities.
Business and Trade
Trade and business form a significant component of India-Slovenia bilateral relations, with a steady increase in Indian business investments in Slovenia. India’s total exports in the financial year 2022-23 are estimated at 676.25 billion USD, a growth of over 37% from the previous year. Most of these exports comprise chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics and other machinery.
India imports 0.05% of its total imports from the world from Slovenia. India exports 0.12% of its total exports to the world to Slovenia.
Key Indian exports: pharmaceuticals, chemicals, coffee, machinery ($504.8 million)
Key Slovenian exports: electrical machinery, precision instruments, furniture ($217 million)
Indian exports to Slovenia were US$596.52 million in 2022, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. (updated in February 2024)
Indian exports to Slovenia in 2021
Slovenia's exports to India were US$140.31 million in 2022, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. (updated February 2024)
Slovenian exports to India in 2021
India and Slovenia have been closely collaborating to strengthen and assist each others’ agricultural innovations, actively cooperating and sharing knowledge on methods involving seed production, animal husbandry, and organic farming. They have also endeavoured to mutually invest in developing new technologies to raise crop yields as well as the livelihoods of farmers.
India imports from Slovenia of Vegetable, fruit, and nut food preparations were US$9.85 thousand in 2021, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. India Imports from Slovenia of Vegetable, fruit, and nut food preparations. (updated in February 2024)
India and Slovenia have consistently cooperated in the area of healthcare, sharing knowledge and skills. They have worked together and even established research partnerships to address common issues and challenges within public health, like infectious and non-communicable diseases, the development of new drugs and remedies and the accessibility of healthcare services.
As part of their bilateral relations, Slovenia and India are collaborating in the field of biotechnology. An Indian pharmaceutical company called Laurus Labs and Slovenia's KrKa have formed a joint venture to open a biotechnology-focused office in Hyderabad. The partnership is an attempt to capitalise on each nation's advantages in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
Science and Technology
With the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation in 1995, India and Slovenia have worked collaboratively towards renewable energy and clean technologies to assist the development of efficient and environmentally sustainable technologies. They have also encouraged mutual investments and research partnerships to support green innovations and address the global climate crisis and environmental decline.
The interest of Indian companies in investing in Slovenia is growing, particularly in the areas of information technology. Indian companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Tech Mahindra, and Wipro have set up shop in Slovenia and have been actively working with Slovenian businesses to develop new technologies and expand their businesses. Slovenia and India are also collaborating in domains such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Defence and Space
Collaboration in defence and aerospace technologies has formed a significant part of India-Slovenia relations, with partnered efforts to build interoperability between their military forces and develop peacekeeping and peace-building strategies.
Regional and Global Issues
With a long-standing commitment to partnership, the two countries have actively cooperated and promoted their mutual interests in foreign and regional issues concerning Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, the United Nations, and India’s G20 Presidency. At the 9th Consultations, key points involved diplomatic achievements in EU-India relations, including negotiations for the re-launch of the Free Trade Agreement and mobility agreements between the EU and India.
India and Slovenia share similar views on global issues like climate change, renewable energy, smart cities, and sustainable development. In November 2023, Slovenia joined the Indian government's initiative to use IT-based solutions to clean the Ganges River. At the 8th India Water Impact Summit, a major development was the agreement on space science technology and satellite usage for river basin management, including the collaboration with Slovenia.
The diplomatic ties have seen positive developments in recent years. Even with the setbacks of COVID-19, leaders from both countries have engaged in cooperative and productive discourse to strengthen their multifaceted partnership. The 9th Consultation helped highlight the Free Trade Agreement and mobility partnership as key talking points for advancing economic relations at both bilateral and EU levels. As Slovenia and India continue to explore opportunities for collaboration in technology, science, and innovation, the future looks promising for a sustained and robust bilateral relationship.