24 Jun 2010
Luka Koper, the company managing the only Slovenian port, and three Korean companies have set up a logistics company to distribute iron products to countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Luka Koper said on Tuesday, 29 May.
The newly-established Posco Europe Steel Distribution Center (POS-ESDC) was set up by Luka Koper, which holds a 10% stake, and Korean companies Posco, Daewoo Logistics in Daewoo International. It will build distribution centres in Koper and Sezana.
According to a press release posted on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, the recent EU entry of Slovakia and the Czech Republic spurred some Korean companies to build new vehicle manufacturing plants in these countries. These plants require the same materials as factories in Korea so they plan to use the Koper centre to distribute the intermediate products.
POS-ESDC rented space in a new multi-purpose warehouse with 10,800 square metres.
Posco is the third largest steelworks in the world. It manufactures 30 million tonnes of steel in Korea and is constructing a new factory in India with a capacity of 10 million tonnes. Daewoo International is one of Korea's largest corporations.
After a fourteen year process, Slovenia is finally a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But can membership yield the benefits promised for so long? Or has the country merely joined an out of touch talking shop?
Sigh of relief for a tough sell
What have you done for me lately?
A prestigious group
The club defender
It was during a May 27 ceremony in Paris that Slovenia’s newly gained membership of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was formally celebrated. Note the word “celebrated” – the ceremony did not confirm membership. Nor did the signing of the accession treaty in Ljubljana on 1 June. Formally speaking, the country will only be a member once this treaty has been ratified and once the OECD has adopted a relevant resolution to extend membership.
It may sound like a very lengthy confirmation procedure. But compare it to the process Slovenia went through to gain membership in the first place and it looks positively speedy. The country first applied to join the OECD in 1996. The accession process alone has taken almost three years. In that period, Slovenia’s readiness for membership was scrutinised by 18 OECD committees and almost 160 legislative changes had to be made to ensure compliance with membership requirements. A quarrel over one of the last of these – changes to the ownership of assets held by the state-run Pension Management Fund and Restitution Fund – almost saw the eleven year process scuppered at the eleventh hour.
Sigh of relief for a tough sell
So Slovenia’s leaders might be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief when the ratified membership treaty is finally deposited with the French government. It will mark the end not only of the application process but also of an enormous and time consuming political effort – from both Slovenia’s current leaders and from their predecessors. If there is one issue which has united Slovenia’s politicians over the past decade, it is the value of OECD membership. They have been backed up by some of the country’s most prominent economists. Indeed, Bogomor Kovač of the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics has declared OECD membership will outweigh the benefits of the country’s membership of NATO.
NATO, which Slovenia joined in 2004, was an easy sell. Most citizens immediately understood what the organisation was and how the country would benefit from membership. In contrast, it has been a challenge to communicating the nature and value of OECD. Just what, many have asked, does the OECD do?
The answer to the question depends on who you ask. It’s a point acknowledged by the organisation itself, which has said it’s regarded by some as a think tank, by others as a monitoring agency and by others still as an unacademic university. Its own description of its work does not entirely clear the issue up – it declares itself to be “an international organisation helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalised economy.”
What have you done for me lately?
Arguably the simplest way to describe the organisation is as a club of industrialised nations. Through the OECD, these countries come together to discuss public policy and share ideas. The discussion is often guided by the vast quantity of statistics the organisation produces, on everything from education to uptake of information technology. From discussion and analysis, recommendations are made on the best courses of action in specific policy areas. Some ultimately become legally binding.
Essentially, Slovenia’s membership of the OECD will give the country’s leaders instant access to a massive pool of information and knowledge. The organisation is able to offer guidance on how to reach the highest standards in business, finance and corporate governance as well as in broader areas such as the social sector and environment. And it is rigorous guidance, based on the knowledge the organisation has accumulated in the half century it has existed.
Slovenia has already adopted much of this guidance to gain membership. But it is a process that will be ongoing. While OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria says the country’s accession process has “delivered real policy changes and reform” – specifically efforts to combat corruption, protect intellectual property rights and ensure high standards of corporate governance – he adds that “the transformational process continues.”
A prestigious group
In the meantime, Slovenia’s leaders hope membership of the OECD will serve as another sign the country has arrived on the world stage. After all, the OECD is a prestigious club. It is estimated that Slovenia will pay at least EUR 2.4m a year to be a member. And as the country’s long battle to gain membership has proved, they don’t just let anyone in.
Some argue that is precisely the problem. Over the years the organisation has built up a reputation as a “rich man’s club” centred solely on the traditional, high-GDP economic powerhouses of Europe. Admitting former Communist countries such as Slovenia – and farer-flung nations such as Mexico, Chile and South Korea – has gone some way to combating this image. But many are urging the organisation to make more determined efforts to include newer power economies and to look at measures of success beyond GDP. Doubts also linger over the OECD’s effectiveness in the current world climate. ZSSS, Slovenia’s largest association of trade unions, has for instance questioned why the organisation failed to promote fiscal transparency in Greece.
The club defender
Its proponents dismiss suggestions that the OECD is no longer relevant or that it is out of touch. According to Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile – another country which has recently become a member – the organisation should not be referred to as a club of rich countries but instead as “a club of countries that promote and foster best practices.”
It is a sentiment echoed by OECD Secretary General Guirra who argues that Slovenia’s membership, as well as the simultaneous accession of Estonia and, controversially, Israel: “confirms our global vocation as the group of countries that searches for answers to the global challenges and establishes standards in policy fields such as environment, trade, innovation or social issues.”Just as Slovenia’s leaders must have said many times over the past fourteen years: time will tell.
Slovenia lost to England 1:0 at the World Cup on Wednesday and failed to qualify for the second round of competition after the US scored a sole goal against Algeria in the second Group C match.
Slovenia were on track to advancing despite being down 1:0 on a 23rd minute goal by Jermain Defoe. But Landon Donovan scored in the last minute for the US, shattering Slovenia's hopes of achieving the biggest success in national football history.
Both teams looked nervous at the start but quite equal until Frank Lampard warmed up keeper Samir Handanovic with a shot from 35 metres in the 14th minute, a move that signaled the start of English dominance.
Defoe turned the game around in the 23rd minute, when he converted James Milner's cross from five meters with a right-foot volley that would prove to be England's ticket to the top 16.
Dafoe and Frank Lampard were close to taking England to a two-goal lead in the 26th, but Dafoe's shot was deflected by Miso Brecko and Lampard's went wide.
England had several serious opportunities early in the second half as Slovenian defence crumbled. Defoe had a chance in the opening minute of the second half, but he flicked the ball wide.
Keeper Handanovic was kept very busy, blocking John Terry's header in the 57th minute and finger-tipping Wayne Rooney's shot into the post a minute later.
In the 68th Slovenia were within a whisker of equalising, but amidst confusion in England's penalty area consecutive shots by Milivoje Novakovic, Zlatko Dedic and Valter Birsa failed to land in the net.
The pace slowed down in the final twenty minutes, with both teams still on track to making it to the next round as Algeria held the US to a goalless draw.
But in overtime Landon Donovan scored for the US, securing a last-minute ticket to the round of 16.
Slovenian players were clearly disappointed at the outcome. "If we had more experience we could have won this game. We're disappointed, but we're proud of our four points and proud of being a real team," Robert Koren said.
But coach Matjaz Kek did not share the players' disappointment, on the contrary he said he was "proud and glad to be in the company of these boys, to have done what we have done."
"We had the match ball at the end and could have gotten that golden point, but this is just how things are in sport. If you cannot be big in defeat...you don't deserve victory," said Kek, who hopes England will get "to the end" at the World Cup.
The US ended the preliminary round at the top of Group C with five points. England have five points as well but scored fewer goals and Slovenia are in third with four points from a win against Algeria and a draw with the US.
Despite the bitter aftertaste, the South Africa campaign will go down in history as Slovenia's most successful bid yet at a major international tournament.
In their first stint at Euro 2000 Slovenia managed a sole draw with Yugoslavia. It walked away without a single point from the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.