Tuesday, 9 April 2019

From Dalmatia to Karlovac and Rijeka, Chinese Eye Up Croatia

As Gordana Grgas/Novac writes on the 8th of April, 2019, if there was a European tender held solely to attract Chinese investment, the champion would certainly be Great Britain, followed by Germany, and then immediately by Italy and France. Croatia might not be anywhere near the top of China's European ''wish list'', but despite that, the Chinese interest just keeps on coming...

The countries which make up Central and Eastern Europe are low on the aforementioned European scale, even though with China, at least since the year 2012, they have enjoyed a special relationship through the China + 16 initiative, which, as a parallel diplomatic format, tends to irritate the larger, more powerful members of the European Union, as well as the European Commission itself. One of lowest on the list is Hungary with its Eurosceptic government led by Viktor Orban, and Croatia is at the very bottom, but the desire is to alter that.

This week, there is an official visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqianga to Croatia, and the eighth summit of sixteen countries of Central and Eastern Europe with China down in Dalmatia's southernmost city of Dubrovnik, and it might be the easiest thing to look at it all as part of a political show that could act as bait for investment. Whether or not this investment will really happen and what shape that might take, whether it will be done mainly through private projects, for example in tourism, or through major state projects in the rail and port sector, is not yet clear at all.

Croatia will sign nine general memoranda with China in the areas of trade, investment, agriculture, transport, science, technology and innovation, education, sport and tourism, and the most convenient customs administration protocol that will enable the export of Croatian dairy products, which are greatly loved in China. Croatia also intends to join the Asian development investment and infrastructure bank headquartered in Beijing, how much that will cost Croatia however, is not yet known.

How large European countries cooperate with China was demonstrated just ten days ago by the Italians and the French. For the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Rome signed 20 agreements (and joined One Band, a one way system that connects China with the rest of Asia, Europe and Africa, and expands its trade and influence). In Paris, 15 such agreements were signed, where either contracted or announced transactions amounting to billions of euros were dealt with, covering a wide range of areas - from exports of Sicilian red oranges and French frozen chicken to the opening of Italian ports for Chinese investors, sales of 300 Airbus aircraft, energy projects, shipbuilding, etc.

After the construction of Croatia's much anticipated Pelješac bridge, which is funded primarily by European Union money, Croatia hopes for more Chinese investments in national transport projects. This regards the port of Rijeka and the entire Rijeka traffic route, including the line from Rijeka to Karlovac, as well as projects such as airports.

According to data which takes the whole of Europe into account, during the period from 2000 to 2018, almost 47 billion euros of direct investment from China was invested in Britain, Germany saw 22 billion euros, Italy saw 15.3 billion euros, and France saw 14.3 billion euros. Hungary saw a significantly smaller figure of 2.4 billion euros from the Chinese, Poland saw even less with 1.4 billion euros, Romania saw 900 million euros, and Croatia saw just 300 million euros. A stark contrast to the United Kingdom, which is by far one of Europe's most powerful nations.

In the region, the intensity is getting stronger, and in neighbouring Serbia, Chinese loans have come in handy when building transport infrastructure and energy projects and, but that medal, like any other, has two sides, and the takeover of companies hasn't always been met with welcome arms by the Serbs.

The aforementioned data report shows that the culmination of Chinese investment in the EU was reached back in 2016, largely through the take over of companies, and over the last two years, it has fallen, which is attributed to more stringent rules implemented by some EU member states, as well as increased capital controls conducted by Beijing.

For Zagreb, it was a bit uncomfortable to get closer to Communist China in the above mentioned period, as the common policy of overseeing and limiting the Chinese penetration of the ''Old Continent'', especially in strategic and technologically sensitive areas, was being undermined. That chapter however, appears to be well and truly over in Croatia's eyes.

While large investments and projects are anxiously anticipated here in Croatia (and the Chinese interest in Rijeka and the Rijeka-Karlovac line is at least nine years old), data on trade relations show that there is a deficit. State Secretary Nataša Mikuš Žigman notes that there has been a noticeable increase in the volume of trade between Croatia and China, but imports are growing more than exports are. Last year, exports of goods amounted to 133.4 million euros, an increase of 19 percent when compared to 2017, while imports amounted to 803 million euros, an increase of 15.6 percent.

Croatian companies might be able to export more to China in the future, and the business forum being held in Dubrovnik is an excellent chance to showcase some innovative Croatian export ideas, but for now, the main export products continue to be raw or semi-finished products such as stone, leather, untreated wood and polymers, while when it comes to imports, we can see the reign of traditional Chinese consumer goods, white electronics and telecommunications equipment, as well as a constantly increasing number of Chinese tourists visiting Croatia, too.

As the Chinese continue to ramp up their business in Croatia, from Pelješac bridge to Rijeka's port, more announcements continue to appear, and just recently we reported on the Chinese plan to open up a car factory tucked away among the citrus trees of southern Dalmatia's fertile Neretva valley, more precisely in the Nova sela business zone near Kula Norinska in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. While many remain concerned about Chinese influence in Croatia, many others are much more occupied and lured by the promise of an economic boost and employment opportunities.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more information on China-Croatia relations and much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Gordana Grgas for Novac/Jutarnji

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Chinese Building Car Factory in Dalmatia, Jobs for 500 People

Chinese-Croatian relations grow ever closer as the Chinese expand their business empire in Dalmatia, not merely stopping at Pelješac bridge. The Chinese are now setting their sights on a vehicle factory in southern Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of April, 2019, an army of unemployed people, almost three thousand of them in total who are registered at the employment centres in Metković and Ploče in the Neretva region, received the news with understandably huge enthusiasm.

The Chinese will re-launch the Neretva valley, Slobodna Dalmacija writes, breathing life back into a part of Dalmatia that really needs it. Apart from the fact that they are already working on the aforementioned construction of the much anticipated Pelješac Bridge, the Chinese will soon embark on yet another major project in Croatia - a factory for electric cars and scooters in the Nova sela business district, which has so far been being developed in the Neretva valley's Kula Norinska area, but at a very slow pace.

This slow page is set to change a lot when the Green Tech Group, registered as a company in Zadar by Karl Soong along with Croatian entrepreneurs Mladen and Anthony Ninčević, starts with the construction of electric vehicles intended for the markets of Central and Eastern Europe down in Nova sela.

There are many unemployed people living in and around the Neretva valley, which is close enough yet just a bit too far away from potential employment in tourist areas like Dubrovnik. This news naturally brought a smile to the faces of many seeking steady work as in Kula Norinska, work began on the infrastructure in the future business zone in Nova sela, thus making this potentially enormous capital project start right there on ground in Dalmatia.

Twenty people would be employed to start things up at Dalmatia's brand new factory. However, when investment in the production of electric scooters, automobiles and batteries begins to add up and things gain some motion, up to 500 workers will be able to gain employment in various positions in the electric vehicle production facilities.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more on China-Croatia relations, business in Croatia, the investment climate and working in Croatia, and much more.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Seaplane Saga Over? Investment Collapses, Dismantling to Begin

''ECA has never been supported by the Croatian administration even though we have linked the islands and the coast without the use of one kuna of state money,'' says D. Thiele, the representative of German investors who were shoved from pillar to post in an attempt to get the seaplane project off the ground again.

As Sasa Paparella/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of April, 2019, two and a half years after inspectors of the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (HACZ) grounded all four of ECA's airplanes for allegedly endangering flight safety back in August 2016, European Coastal Airlines (ECA) and the project of returning seaplanes to the Adriatic sea has now definitely collapsed. Soon, the dismantling of twelve airports on the water will begin, this encompasses all of the pontoons designed to receive ECA's airplanes set up at sea ports from Lošinj to Hvar, to Lastovo.

It's difficult to find someone willing to return the seaplanes to the Adriatic. German investors, who started the project all the way back in 2001, are extremely dissatisfied with the behaviour of the Croatian authorities.

"The ECA project has never been really supported by the Croatian administration. Investors from Germany and Malaysia have invested 25 million euro in the project to set up the transport infrastructure which is necessary for seaplane traffic. They did so without the use of one kuna from the state, and without an HBOR loan, even though we did apply for them. We have linked the islands and the coast and we employed 150 people,'' recalls Dietmar Thiele, executive director of OTAGO Beteiligungs GmbH, representing German investors and their Chinese partners from the Shanghai Jet star company, who were more than willing to invest in the reconstruction of seaplane traffic on the Adriatic.

Despite the total and utter lack of support from the Croatia authorities, and sometimes allegedly faced with the opposition of local and port authorities, the German investors were still able to launch the project and get all of the necessary permits to start the operations of the first hydro carrier in Europe.

"Regular lines began in 2014, and in August 2016, ECA performed 60 flights per day connecting 11 destinations, it transported up to 600 passengers per day and earned a daily income of up to 40,000 euro, as planned. However, the administrative overhaul of ECA prevented further business, resulting in enormous costs, which stalled any further funding of the project. HACZ grounded the seaplanes due to, as was noted, those established deficiencies. The unreasonableness and the illegality of this grounding has already been confirmed by four court witnesses, and this has lead us to a court dispute,'' Thiele stated.

To the contradictions that ECA was facing huge debts and would have otherwise failed because the model was not market-friendly, the response is as follows: "The business plan was based on achieving the project's profitability after five years, with seven seaplanes and 23 seaports," they added that every airline in the world plans for losses during their very first years of doing business, as they plan to cover said losses with the company's capital.

He added that the new Chinese investors were ready for the further financing of assets and new loans, the debts remained with the German investors, and the fleet would have been financed through leasing. Although the seaplanes have not flown since 2016, the project didn't fall away into the abyss immediately, but has been attempting a new beginning - some co-owners of ECA are opening a prebankruptcy process and are finding new investors from China's Jetstar.

The judge gave them two chances.

The Chinese wrote their intention to confirm that they want to invest 15 million euro in the project's renewal, to open a new company and to transfer the concession to twelve certified airports. The Chinese also sent that letter to the judge at the Commercial Court in Split, Velimir Vuković, who gave them an additional four months to complete the planned investment, but the executive powers failed to show any understanding.

In June 2018, the investors sent an official letter of intent to the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, from whom they received no answer. In August 2018, they asked for an answer once again. However, in communication with the then State Secretary for Maritime Affairs, the receipt of the letter was confirmed, but any official response has remained entirely absent. At the end of the prescribed four month period, Judge Vuković was forced to open bankruptcy proceedings in September 2018, resulting in the collapse of all of the existing concessions, and the investors naturally withdrew.

Much like with answering the letters from the investors, Minister Butković's office failed to answer why investors didn't get an answer when asked by Poslovni Dnevnik to comment on the matter. Instead, the portal was told: "The Ministry fully supported the project of the introduction of seaplanes and regulated the legislative framework by amending existing laws in the field of maritime and air transport, as well as the adoption of the Ordinance on water airports. Representatives of the Ministry assisted the investor in the realisation of the project,'' the letter went on to state all of the apparent ways in which the aforementioned ministry helped. This letter, which came much, much too late, didn't do much for the exhausted would-have-been investors, of course.

However, not entirely beaten, the foreign investors have initiated several litigation claims for damages and lawsuits against HACZ. They informed the German Embassy of everything, ​​as well as the Chinese diplomacy.

The collapse of the seaplane company began with a real tragedy back in June 2015 when, as the German investors themselves say, "two irresponsible Croatian ECA pilots, without having a license to fly that type of airplane, illegally took a small seaplane from the Lake company to four places, and because of their inability and their failure to comply with the flight rules, caused a plane crash resulting in two dead and one seriously injured pilot. Although two persons were killed in the accident, the State Attorney's Office in Split hasn't opened an investigation into the matter for more than 3.5 years.''

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Sasa Paparella for Poslovni Dnevnik

 

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Croatia and China: New Agreements and Chances for Croatian Companies

Croatian companies have a chance for further growth and more exporting should Croatia decide to deepen its business ties and cooperation with China, the country which is currently undertaking the mammoth task of constructing Pelješac bridge.

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 31st of March, 2019, at the 8th Summit of heads of government of central and eastern European countries and China, which will be held from the 9th to the 12th of April in Dubrovnik, the "Dubrovnik Guidelines" document is expected to be adopted, which will lay out the activities in this format in the forthcoming phase.

The summit on the EU and China set to take place in the Belgian capital of Brussels on the 9th of April is expected with interest, and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is coming to Croatia. There are bilateral talks between Keqiang and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on the agenda, as well as the signing of several already concluded bilateral agreements in Zagreb. In line with the things that are set to be dealt with and concluded at the summit, Croatia and China could strengthen their blossoming cooperation with as many as ten brand new agreements. Other major Croatian expectations for the strengthening of overall relations with China are also awaited with gritted teeth, with the greatest interest being expressed in the areas of infrastructure, tourism and SMEs.

After the construction of Pelješac bridge, which is being built by China's CRBC, will yet more new infrastructural advances, such as the modernisation of Croatia's railway system, soon come to pass? The plans are also for the Chinese and Croatian prime ministers to visit this huge construction site down in southern Dalmatia. The Chinese delegation will consist of around 250 members, and that isn't including the 300 business community representatives coming to the 9th business forum ''16 plus 1''.

A total of more than 700 entrepreneurs have been registered, and many opportunities are on offer to Croatian companies when looking at entering the giant Chinese market, meaning that the initiative is on them. B2B meetings can be arranged with the help of an application created by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), and as Croatia's SME coordinator, it will officially launch the 16 + 1 coordination mechanism for small and medium-sized enterprises. The major promise for Croatian companies which operate within a multitude of different sectors lies in exports when it comes to deeper cooperation in doing business with China.

Croatia's visibility for the Chinese is continually growing, by about fifteen percent annually, while the number of tourists from China has increased by an enormous 120 percent over the past two years alone. In 2019, a record 300,000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit Croatia, which is the fastest growing market in the whole of the Republic of Croatia.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Suzana Varosanec for Poslovni Dnevnik

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Deadline Extensions, Appeals and Problems for Pelješac Bridge Access Roads

The Pelješac Bridge saga continues, and deadlines for various parts of the job, be it on the bridge itself or on its required access roads, rather unsurprisingly see more and more extensions...

As Josip Bohutinski/VL/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of March, 2019, the State Commission for the control of public procurement procedures (DKOM) has dismissed an appeal lodged by Varaždin's Colas to modify the tender documentation for the construction of Ston's bypass of Sparagovići - Papratno and Papratno - Doli.

As Večernji list reports, Colas actually only lodged an appeal one day before the expiry of the bidding deadline on February the 14th, 2019. DKOM assessed this appeal, deemed it to be unfair and subsequently rejected it. The tender for the construction of the Ston bypass road was announced on December the 3rd, 2018, with the deadline for the submission of bids for the job set for the 21st of January this year.

Due to the requirements of potential contractors requesting explanations of the tender documentation, the bidding deadline has been extended several times. The estimated value of the works for the construction of the Ston bypass road is 449.1 million kuna, and according to the tender documentation, the chosen contractor will have a deadline for completing the works, which is currently 30 months from the date of introduction to the job.

While Croatian roads (Hrvatske ceste) can be satisfied with DKOM's decision on the (very late in the day) Colas appeal for this part of Pelješac Bridge's access road, when it comes to the second part of the Pelješac Bridge access road, the Duboka-Sparagovići section, the commission's decision will have to be waited on once again. Namely, the decision for this access sectiont to be built by the Greek company J&P Avax has received an appeal from Aktor SA, another Greek company that participated in the tender, as well as Austria's Strabag. J&P Avax offered 464.9 million kuna without VAT to build the Duboka - Sparagovići road section. The estimated value of these works currently stands at 482 million kuna. Offers for these works were officially opened in June last year.

In addition to J&P Avax, the job of constructing twelve kilometres' worth of this section was desired by six other companies and consortia. In the selection decision, it was stated that J&P Avax's bid was, according to the selection criterion, rated the most economically advantageous. The Aktor SA offered 464.6 million kuna, and Austria's Strabag offered 478.3 million kuna. The lowest bid was offered by Integral engineering from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina - 321.2 million kuna, but that was rejected for its unusually low price tag. Colas, the company to lodge an appeal, also had its offer of 52.5 million kuna rejected, and the China Road and Bridge Corporation were also rebuffed with their offer of 647.8 million kuna, because these offers exceed the estimated value of the works, and the Chinese didn't extend the validity of their offer. Offers were also submitted by the GP Krk association and Euro-asfalt from Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a 444.3 million kuna price tag.

The scheduled deadline for construction of the Duboka - Sparagovići road section currently stands at 33 months from the date of the contractor's introduction to the job. Given the fact that in such proceedings, DKOM requires two months to decide on an appeal, the beginning of construction of this section can likely be expected to begin sometime during the middle of this year and not before.

The bid for equipping and supplying the Duboka - Sparagovići section came to an end in February with three offers. The estimated value of these works stands at 38.2 million kuna, and all three bids received are well above this amount. Valard offered 52.9 million kuna, Dalekovod offered 57.3 million kuna, and Elektrocentar Petek offered a handsome 59.5 million kuna. Croatian roads have stated however that they will cancel this bid and announce a new one in which everything needed for the Duboka - Sparagovići section and the Ston bypass will be unified.

Croatian roads have also pointed out that the deadline for completing the entire Pelješac bridge project, meaning the bridge's actual construction and the construction of its access roads, is now January the 31st, 2022.

Make sure to follow our dedicated news and business pages for more information on the construction of Pelješac Bridge and much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Josip Bohutinski/VL on Poslovni Dnevnik

Thursday, 7 March 2019

First Regional B2B Conference on Chinese Tourist Market

In Hotel Academia in Zagreb on March 14th 2019, the First Regional Conference on the Chinese Tourist Market will be held.

The topics which will be discussed at the conference will include the comparison of the Chinese tourists we see in Croatia and in the region these days and the Chinese tourists which are about to start arriving in the future, a look inside into the Chinese tourist market profile, some interesting case studies from the Croatian market and key steps in strategic planning for the Chinese market.

Another key topic which will be discussed is the important matter of translation, which is extremely important when it comes to Chinese tourists. Should the translations be creative or literal, how to reduce cost when creating multilingual content and what are the causes for bad translation - those are the topics to be discussed.

One of the keynote speakers at the conference will be the leading expert in the field of translation and internationalization of the tourist content, Joanne Chan from the IPPWORLD, a transcreation agency specialized in the field of travel, lifestyle and hospitality. She will discuss the language issues, but also try and bring closer to the tourism professionals in the region what the Chinese tourists want, what is most important to them when they travel outside China. In an interview with hrturizam.hr she explains that it's all about an authentic experience for them. They want to see how local people live, work and have fun.

You can apply to the Conference at the link here, and the people who should most be interested in what's going to be discussed at the conference are the owners and the managers of tourist agencies interested in the Chinese tourist market, online marketing agencies, market communications experts, tourist board directors (and people leading other public tourist organisations) etc. If you have any interest in the Chinese tourist market, you shouldn't miss this conference!

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Could Croatian Meat Products Open Profitable Export Door to China?

By-products from Croatian slaughterhouses could potentially have some good buyers in China. What Croatia considers to be meat by-products are valued delicacies over in China, and exporting them could open up a potentially highly profitable door.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 26th of February, 2019, the Chinese are happy with what they've seen, and according to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), ''we're now awaiting the final findings to sign a bilateral agreement.'' These comments come after Dukat and Vindija, as well as several farms and other competent Croatian institutions were recently visited by a Chinese deligation following the organisation of a visit by the Ministry of Agriculture and HGK.

As Vecernji list writes, the reason appears to be that milk and dairy products over in China are becoming more and more sought after and sell at a very good price, so along with the construction of Pelješac bridge, cooperation can now also be expected in terms of agriculture and food, such as via the potentially very profitable export of top quality Croatian cheeses and dairy products.

In addition to this potential wealth of profit, all eyes are currently also on the recent visit of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Tomislav Tolušić to China. Branko Bobetić, the director of Croatiastočar, says the total export of agricultural and food products in the EU from December 2017 to November 2018 stood at 115 billion euros, of which 11 billion was from China.

''Of that [amount] 2.2 billion euro is made up of meat and meat products from the EU, and 1.3 billion is from milk and dairy products, and as total imports of agricultural and food products from China into the EU amounted to 5.7 billion, EU exports are twice as big as imports are,'' stated Bobetić. The bulk of these meat exports are, of course, pork, and as China desires exactly the products Croatia considers to be by-products, there is a big chance there.

''Pigs' heads, bones, stomachs, ears, innards... they are delicaies there. So far, we've exported some of it to Hong Kong at an average price of 1.25 euro, while on the Chinese market, which is still closed for by-products from our slaughterhouses, such products have reached twice the price,'' said Bobetić, pointing out that based on the estimation of the amount of pigs which end up in Croatia's biggest slaughterhouses each year, there were about 5-6 thousand tons of pork by-products worth at least seven million euros in exports.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more information on Croatian relations with China.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Minister Oleg Butković Visits Company with Largest Fleet of Boats in World

As Morski writes on the 26th of January, 2019, Minister Oleg Butković spent some time in Shanghai and Ningbo where he met with the representatives of the giant shipping company COSCO Shipping.

The Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure also visited the port of Ningbo, the only port in the entire world which has shipped more than one billion tons of cargo, a statement from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs said.

In Shanghai, the Croatian delegation led by Minister Oleg Butković met with representatives of COSCO Shipping, a well respected shipping company that owns the world's largest fleet, as well as the third-largest fleet of specialised container ships.

On the same day, a meeting was held in Ningbo with representatives of the port of Ningbo Zhoushan, the port that, for the very first time, shipped over one billion tons of cargo in 2018, making it the only port in the entire world to do so. During the visit of the Croatian delegation of which Butković was a leading part, the data from the huge Chinese port showed how it has dealt with a massive 2,103,683 containers since the beginning of the year.

The visit to the port of Zhoushan was completed by visiting two of the most significant container terminals and meeting with leading port operators, which was an opportunity to exchange experiences with the Port of Rijeka's administration and talk about the projects they are preparing, whereby a clearly mutual desire for further cooperation was expressed.

The visit to Shanghai and Ningbo Zhoushan marked the end of the official visit of Minister Oleg Butković, who has been spending time in the People's Republic of China since January the 20th, and where he held a series of meetings with the aim of exchanging experiences between the two countries in the area of ​​transport infrastructure, and further enhancement of mutual cooperation.

Make sure to stay up to date with Croatia's political scene by following our dedicated politics page. If you're interested in Croatia's deepening relationship with China, give our business page a follow.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

China and Croatia Grow Closer as Chinese Focus on Rijeka and Coast

The relationship between China and Croatia is continuing to grow ever closer, and bringing the Chinese to the Croatian coast is potentially just an introductory step in their much wider engagement on the development of Rijeka's traffic connections, both operationally and financially.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 14th of January, 2019, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, will travel to China later this month, where he will discuss, among other things, the opportunity for them to take the concession for a new Rijeka container terminal on the coast with Chinese shipowners and port operators, according a report from Novi list.

Butković will meet with the Chinese traffic minister, representatives of CRBC, who will build Pelješac Bridge, and will also meet with representatives of the naval giant COSCO, as well as several large Chinese shipping and port companies, the potential leasers of the container terminal on that part of the Croatian coast, for which the concession would have to be announced by the middle of this year.

As China and Croatia's bond grows deeper still, the Chinese companies will start with the concession on that particular part of the Croatian coast, the development of a logistics centre and a back terminal in the entrepreneurial Miklavlje zone will probably be offered.

If an interest in making such a move is shown, then the competent Croatian ministry and the Croatian Government will begin seriously contemplating their involvement in far larger infrastructure projects on Rijeka's traffic connections, primarily the construction of a railway line from Rijeka all the way to the Hungarian border, and when looking at much longer-term plans, the possible construction of a large container terminal on the island of Krk, along with a new road-rail bridge.

Make sure to stay up to date with everything you need to know on the growing relationship between China and Croatia and much, much more by following our dedicated business page.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Pelješac Bridge Under Construction as Access Roads Lag Behind

The Chinese need to have Pelješac bridge completed in just over thirty months time (by July 2021), but what of the actual access roads leading to it? That appears to be quite another story, and rather unsurprisingly - a long and potentially complicated one.

As Josip Bohutinski/VL/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 9th of January, 2019, the first signs of life of the construction of Pelješac bridge site began today.

The Chinese consortium led by the China Road and Bridge Corporation signed up for this demanding job more than five months ago, and according to the contract, Pelješac bridge has to be built within 36 months, meaning that this strategic Croatian project should theoretically be completed in the summer of 2021. While works on Pelješac bridge itself have finally begun, albeit slowly, the works on the bridge's obviously required access roads are not even close to their beginning. So far, no contractor has even been chosen to build these roads, and Croatian roads (Hrvatske ceste) has now launched two tenders for the eventual construction of the bridge's access roads.

In regard to the first part, more specifically the Duboka-Sparagovići section of the road, offers will begin being taken in the middle of June, but the decision on the contractor has not yet been made, although it has been stated in the related documentation that this decision will be made within 120 days from the day of the opening of the actual bid. It has also been stated that the chosen contractor will be required to build their section of the road within 33 months following their initial introduction to the job. Whether or not Pelješac bridge and its access roads will be completed at the same time is already questionable.

Problems can be foreseen, or better to say predicted for argument's sake, that if one takes into account the simple fact that once the contractor is finally selected, other bidders have the right to appeal, and the resolution of these procedures in such bids typically last anywhere up to three months. If Croatian roads decided on the contractor soon, that contractor would still not actually have anything to do with getting any of their work done until the middle of the year. Seven offers have come in so far, the lowest of which was sent by Integral engineering from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, ironically a country which has shown the least support for the construction of Pelješac bridge.

Back at the beginning of December 2018, a public tender for the construction of the second part of Pelješac bridge's access roads was published, and the currently estimated value of these works stands at a massive 449.1 million kuna. The deadline for bids for the second part of the road is January the 21st, 2019. The selected contractor will have a 30-month deadline for the construction of the 18 kilometre road to be put into operation, but once again, appeals are expected to follow any final decision, which translates to more waiting around, and more wasted time.

Make sure to stay up to date with the ongoing Pelješac bridge saga by following our dedicated lifestyle and politics pages.

 

Click here for the original article by Josip Bohutinski/VL on Poslovni Dnevnik

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