Deputy Prime Minister Dejan Zidan Foto: MMC/Miloš Ojdanić
Deputy Prime Minister Dejan Zidan Foto: MMC/Miloš Ojdanić

"We can expect economic growth this year to reach 2.4 percent based on high growth of exports," Zidan told a conference of Slovenian and Chinese businessmen.

Slovenia has been in recession the last two years largely because of a fall in domestic spending and investment. Slovenia's export-oriented economy is focused on European Union markets, which account for as much as 77 percent of the country's foreign sales.

But the country hopes to reduce this dependence on EU trade and Zidan said Slovenia wants to increase exports to China, which at present represent only a fraction of Slovenian sales. "I expect we could increase exports to China in the areas of car parts, electrical equipment parts, tourism, food and wine," he said.

China's Deputy Prime Minister Wang Yang told the same conference that China was ready to support private-public partnerships that would develop Slovenian ports, airports and energy firms. Zidan said that although Slovenia wanted to keep state control of its main port, Luka Koper, it could form a partnership with China to expand Luka and the railway line leading to it. "Talks on this will continue in the coming months," he said.

Slovenia was badly hit by the global crisis due to its dependency on exports. It managed to avoid an international bailout last year by pumping more than 3 billion euros of state money into local banks which are mostly state-owned.