High Expectations from Summit with China

By 9 April 2019

ZAGREB, April 9, 2019 - Finance Minister Zdravko Marić on Tuesday said that the 16 + 1 summit with China is a big event for Croatia and that he hopes for concrete positive effects from the summit, and Public Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević too, expects positive results.

The 16 + 1 summit is a big event for Croatia, Marić told reporters ahead of an inner cabinet meeting. He added that he believes that there will be positive effects after the summit.

Asked whether he shares the opinion that the 16 + 1 summit is being held so that China can enter the EU market as deeply as possible, Marić said that the 16 + 1 initiative is nothing new. He said that thanks to the fact that it is hosting the summit, Croatia will probably be a world media star over the next few days and that the summit is confirmation that the government is focusing on economic issues.

Asked whether Western EU countries were opposed to Chinese investments, Marić said that several Western countries cooperate very well with China and so he did not see any reason why Croatia should be any different.

"We are a constituent part and member of the EU, which does not exclude us from cooperating with any partner with whom we can build economic ties on the principles that are valid also for the EU," he said.

Minister Kuščević believes that China is a large market and that it can be a big investor in Croatia. He expects certain investments in Croatia's railways and ports to be agreed. "I know that the Chinese are interested in investing in railroads, ports and certain infrastructure and energy projects, so I believe that something concrete will occur," Kuščević said.

President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) Luka Burilović on Tuesday said that the meeting of heads of governments of China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (16+1) and the business forum that will be held during the summit is the biggest opportunity yet for cooperation with China and the greatest opportunity to increase exports and for new investments.

The 8th 16+1 summit will be held in Dubrovnik on April 11 and 12.

HGK, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts is organising the 9th China-CEE, Business Forum on the margins of the summit. "This is the greatest opportunity ever to increase exports and for new investment cycles," Burilović said and added that greater affinity by Chinese consumers for our products can be expected as a result.

"It is essential to resolve the issue of certificates and export licences for our entrepreneurs. HGK is intensively working on standardising those procedures in cooperation with the relevant institutions in the two countries, and we believe that the dairy industry is just the beginning," Burilović said.

Croatia will sign nine bilateral agreements in Dubrovnik, HGK noted, and one of those will be between the Agriculture Ministry and the Chinese General Administration of Customs which will enable milk and dairy product exports.

The Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) and the Chinese Development Bank will also sign an agreement that will facilitate access to Chinese capital for Croatian development projects.

"Chinese investments on the global scene have until now been directed mainly in infrastructure and resources, but that is changing," Burilović said, adding that the Chinese are turning to greenfield investments in production with quality jobs. "That is why we have equal room for investments and for exporting quality products, but also to strengthen cooperation directed at companies that are already present in China," he added.

It is expected that more than 100 companies will attend the business forum and individual meetings will be held between Chinese and European companies.

HGK said that the advancement of economic cooperation between Croatia and China would be most likely in the area of transport and distribution of commodities. Chinese companies can use the opportunities provided by the Ploče, Zadar and Rijeka seaports.

Croatian tourist agencies are also showing a growing interest in China as well as promoting Croatia as a tourist destination in China.

Statistics show that trade between Croatia and China in 2018 amounted to 1.1 billion dollars and that it increased by 200 million dollars compared to 2017.

More news about relations between China and Croatia can be found in the Politics section.