Ljubljana, 4 January (STA) – The business daily Finance looks Friday at what it calls Slovenia’s “natural markets” and comments on opportunities for Slovenian brands there.

Two of out five countries from the area of former Yugoslavia have ranked among the 20 most “miserable” countries of in the world, a list compiled by website Business Insider.

“Bosnia-Herzegovina is placed 17th between Gaza and Swaziland, while Kosovo got an even worse score and is ninth between Belarus and Nepal.”

Croatia, which is expected to enter the EU in summer, is another story. But our neighbours entered the new year with over 358,000 jobless. The good news is that they are again looking at a promising tourism season, while another ray of hope is the foreign investors, which might be more attracted to the Croatian market, which is more open than those of its neighbours.

“Serbia is the biggest among our national markets, with investors swarming Belgrade, the nation’s two-million capital,” the daily says. But that is the sweet part of the Serbian story. The bitter one is the deep crisis that forced many young Serbs to seek their fortunes abroad. “Even the Chinese, which entered the country in droves about two decades ago to set up their small shops, are now leaving for Africa because of a decline in purchasing power.”

This is a rough and superficial picture of the environment where Slovenian brands still mean something, the daily points out.

Of course these countries still have very rich customers, but these are few and far in between. The reputation of Slovenian companies, meanwhile, is additionally marred by the bad reputation of Slovenia’s largest bank, which left many local savers high and dry, and the bitter taste left by Slovenian construction companies and their maltreatment of foreign workers.