Croatia and Russia Developing Business Ties

By 9 June 2018

ZAGREB, June 9, 2018 - The potential for a stronger business cooperation between Russia and Croatia is large, notably in the pharmaceutical, energy, food, agricultural and tourism sectors, it was said at the Zagreb-St Petersburg Economic Forum, held in Zagreb on Friday as part of events marking the 50th anniversary of the two cities' friendship.

Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) president Luka Burilović said that about ten years ago, before the global economic crisis started, trade between Croatia and Russia amounted to some 3.4 billion dollars, but that it had fallen below one billion dollars due to the crisis and trade sanctions against Russia.

Burilović said that the potential for a closer cooperation was large because the Russian market was big and familiar to Croatian companies. Possible areas of cooperation are the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, shipbuilding, mechanical engineering, the textile industry and tourism, Burilović said, adding that there was almost no sector where Croatian and Russian businesses did not cooperate.

Russian Ambassador Anvar Azimov said that this year trade between the two countries was expected to amount to more than one billion US dollars and that the plan for the next two-three years was to restore its value to the pre-crisis level and the amount of 3.4 billion dollars.

The president of the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture of St. Petersburg Yury Burchakov called on Croatian business people to not heed the sanctions and do business in Russia.

St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko said the purpose of the forum was to continue strengthening cultural and business ties between the two cities and countries. He noted that business people from St Petersburg were very much interested in closer cooperation with business people from Zagreb, notably in the digital technologies sector, small and medium enterprise and tourism.

The business forum was also addressed by Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić.

The HGK and the association for support to enterprise development of St Petersburg's interregional business information centre signed an agreement on cooperation at the forum.

Commenting on the situation in the ailing food and retail group Agrokor, Burilović said that there was no alternative to a settlement with Agrokor's creditors. The alternative would be bankruptcy and in that case, everyone will lose a lot, he said. "I am confident that the settlement will be signed. I don't know how big stakes individual companies (creditors) will get, but I hope that the signing of the settlement plan will be followed by a painstaking process that will eventually contribute to the sustainable development of Agrokor and Croatia's agricultural industry," said Burilović.