Strong political, cultural, and business ties between Czechs and Slovenians were cut off in the second half of the 20th century. Nowadays trade and investment flow is showing strong signs of growth once again.
Slovenes and Czech lived in the same state for centuries: the Hapsburg Empire. The Slavic nations used to be intricately connected. Joseph Ressel, Czech inventor of the ship propeller, did his first experiments in Slovenia. Slovenian architect Jožef Plečnik led the restoration and modification of the Prague castle. Czech investors were essential for the industrialisation of Slovenia, with their involvement in textile industry in Kranj and Maribor, chemical industry (Tovarna dušika Ruše), food processing (Kolinska) and banking.
These close ties were almost completely severed by the iron curtain. Nowadays trade and investment flows are slow, but steadily growing once again. The largest printing paper manufacturer in the region, Vipap, was acquired by the Czech state in 2008. Last year, the Czech government managed to sell its stake in Vipap to holding company RIDG, owned by Czech private investors. At around the same time, Czech Energo Pro Group acquired Slovenia's Litostroj Power, the world’s leading producer of equipment for hydropower plants. Kranj-based rubber company Savatech was bought by Czech ČGS group, which was soon after taken over by the Swedish Trelleborg. In 2015, Czech soft drink company Kofola bought Radenska, a 150-year old Slovenian mineral water brand. In late 2019, the media reported that a stake in Slovenian railways may be bought by EPH, a large energy and logistics group controlled by the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky. Kretinsky already owns a 13 percent share inSlovenia’s largest energy company Petrol.
Slovenes are, however, a bit less active on the Czech market. Gorenje bought established Czech home appliances manufacturer Mora Moravia in 2005, while Czech Rembrandtin became part of Slovenian coating and paint group Helios in 2009. Both companies are now owned by Asian corporations: Gorenje by Chinese Hisense, and Helios by Japanese Kansai Paint.
Trade between the Czech Republic and Slovenia is increasing, reaching 1 billion euros in 2015. Last year the value surpassed 1.5 billion euro . Despite positive movements, opportunities for cooperation are far from being exhausted. The two nations share not only their history but are also culturally very similar, that makes an excellent foundation for successful business cooperation. To find proof of this one needs not to look further than a century into the past.