Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Plenković Concludes Visit to China, Travels to Finland

ZAGREB, November 6, 2018 - Croatia has a favourable geographical position in the middle of Europe and as a member of the European Union it is part of the large European market with over 500 million people which represents a great opportunity for Chinese companies interested in cooperation, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Shanghai on Tuesday, at the Croatia-China business forum which brought together representatives of about 30 Croatian and more than 130 Chinese companies.

With his participation in the business forum, the Croatian prime minister wrapped up his five-day visit to the world's second largest economy. During his stay in China, he held talks with top Chinese officials – President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang – and held a number of working meetings with Chinese business people.

Opening the business forum, Plenković invited Chinese companies to invest in Croatia, notably in railway infrastructure and naval ports, saying that Croatia wanted to increase its exports to China. "We want to attract new investment and I believe that our meetings will help further development of cooperation between Croatia and China. This forum shows that Croatian companies are increasingly interested in the Chinese market. Let's hope your talks today will result in numerous deals," Plenković said.

He underscored the advantages of Croatia's favourable geographical position, adding that Croatia is part of the market with 500 million people. Plenković stressed Croatia was entirely integrated in transport plans on the European level and focused on further investment in the railway sector.

He recalled that the overall trade between the two countries last year amount to 900 million dollars of which only 125 million dollars was Croatia's exports to China. "Our goal is to have a balanced trade...We want to increase Croatia's exports to China, which is why we are here, to help Croatia's exporters," Plenković said.

He also underscored the importance of cooperation with China in the China +16 initiative. The 16+1 format is an initiative launched by China aimed at intensifying and expanding cooperation with 11 EU Member States and 5 Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia) in the fields of investments, transport, finance, science, education, and culture. In the framework of the initiative, China has defined three potential priority areas for economic cooperation: infrastructure, high technologies, and green technologies.

"It is a great honour for us to host the China+1 summit in spring 2019 in Dubrovnik," Plenković said. He also underlined the importance of the decision, adopted by the Hrvatske Ceste road operator, to select the China Road and Bridge Corporation to build the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia, which he described as "the most important infrastructural project in Croatia."

Plenković wrapped up his visit to China by expressed satisfaction with his stay in that country and the talks he held with the Chinese politicians and business people.

A delegation of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), led by HDZ chief Andrej Plenković, will take part in a congress of the European People's Party (EPP) in Helsinki on Wednesday and Thursday when EPP members are expected to elect their lead candidate for the next European elections, scheduled to take place on May 23-26, 2019.

Plenković will also hold a bilateral meeting with Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila on Wednesday.

The EPP meeting in Helsinki will also be attended by government leaders from the EPP ranks, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as well as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

Some EPP members are going to support Manfred Weber, currently the leader of the parliamentary group of the PPE in the European Parliament, in the running for the next President of the European Commission.

Manfred Weber is running against Alexander Stubb inside the group as the other EPP member aspiring to become this entity's candidate to the European Commission top job.

To read more about Croatian politics, click here.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Plenković Talks Informally with President Xi of China

ZAGREB, November 5, 2018 - On the fourth day of his visit to China, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended the inaugural China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on Monday, meeting with a number of politicians and business executives and making a speech on trade and innovation.

Plenković informally met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, one of the world's most powerful people, who opened the fair saying that he would continue opening the Chinese market to foreign products and reducing import duties. "I am pleased with the overall impression of political talks at the highest level as well as with contacts with many Chinese companies, both state-owned and private, which are showing a great interest in Croatia," the Croatian prime minister said. "I spoke with Mr Xi informally, such was the context of this fair. I see that he likes Croatia and that he knows our country," he added.

Plenković met with Li Jian, General Manager of the Huawei telecommunications company for Europe, which has shown an interest in cooperation. "This company wants to intensify cooperation and be a partner to Croatia in the digital age," the prime minister said. "I think we are facing an intensive period, especially in view of the fact that Croatia will host the next summit of the China+16 initiative in Dubrovnik in the spring of 2019. After that, I expect even greater dynamics in relations. That's why I think this visit has achieved all the key goals which we have come here for," Plenković said.

China has organised the historic CIIE fair to alleviate criticisms that its trade policy and huge surplus are upsetting the balance of the global economy and has shown that it can be a global economic leader. President Xi said in his opening remarks that he supports free trade and pledged to continue opening the Chinese market to foreign products and reducing import duties.

Commenting on his speech, Plenković said that Xi's message today was a watershed. "China, which has dominated in terms of exports, is now opening up to other markets and their exports. This is an opportunity for Croatian exporters on a huge market of nearly 1.4 billion people. That's why I expect a strong engagement on the part of our industries and our companies," he said.

Asked by the press if Europe was afraid of Chinese capital, Plenković said that "generally, there are certain reservations." "I think the crucial question is when China will gain the status of a market economy. Messages from President Xi's address today are important, including that China will tighten its rules on compliance with intellectual property rights," Plenković said. "As for investment, don't forget that present here at the fair are all European Union countries, including Germany, which are interested in continuing their cooperation with China," he added. "We need to adjust to a balanced view of global developments and seek our opportunities on these markets," Plenković concluded.

A discussion on trade and innovation was held as part of the fair, involving, among others, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

In his speech, Plenković presented innovators and inventors associated with Croatia, including 16th century inventor Faust Vrančić (Fausto Veranzio), who is believed to be the first person to build and test a parachute; electrical and mechanical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla; anthropologist Ivan Vučetić, who pioneered the use of fingerprinting; and young entrepreneur Mate Rimac, who has developed the world's fastest electric car Concept 2.

"The most brilliant example of innovation coming from Croatia today is the company Rimac Automobili," Plenković said. This company has announced cooperation with the Chinese Camel Group which should result in the opening of a 158 million dollar electric motor and battery factory in Hebei province in central China, he added.

"We believe that encouraging such individual undertakings and innovative new products presents an opportunity for Croatia to participate and compete globally," Plenković said. He reminded those present, most of whom were Asian entrepreneurs, that Croatia has an excellent geographic position in terms of transport. "By using Croatian ports, you can save a whole week for all goods being shipped from Asia to Europe via the Suez Canal," he said.

The CIIE is open until November 10. More than 3,000 companies from 130 countries, including 27 from Croatia, are participating in the event. The organisers expect that over 300,000 visitors will have seen the exhibition.

A Croatian-Chinese business form, organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, will take place in Shanghai on Tuesday.

For more on Mate Rimac, click here.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Croatian National Tourist Board Opens Office in Shanghai, China

The Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) has opened a representative office in Shanghai that will cover the large and for Croatia's tourism strategically important market of China. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković officially inaugurated the office, in the presence of HTZ director Kristjan Staničić, president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) Luka Burilović, and Croatian Ambassador in China Nebojša Koharović, reports Večernji List on November 5, 2018.

"For Croatia, this will be the best tourist year ever, with almost 20 million arrivals and over 106 million overnight stays, and a billion euro of tourism investment. The next year will be the year of culture and tourism between Croatia and China. This is a great opportunity for us to further position our country on the Chinese market,” Plenković said.

In his speech, Staničić pointed out that the HTZ office was opened at the premises of the HGK office in Shanghai, which will reduce costs and increase institutional co-operation. “We are exceptionally proud to open the office in Shanghai in the year which has been declared the year of tourism between the European Union and China. This is the right moment for us to launch even stronger promotional activities in this large and important market. We want to present Croatia as an attractive all-year tourist destination. This year alone we have recorded the growth in the number of Chinese tourists by 40 percent, and there is room for even better results,” said Staničić, adding that the new office would implement all the key activities aimed at attracting even more Chinese visitors, introducing direct flights between China and Croatia, and developing tailor-made tourism products for Chinese tourists.

“I am delighted by the fact that, in addition to tourists, great interest for Croatia has also been demonstrated by investors who have already started with major investments in the tourist sector. This positive trend should also be stimulated and I do not doubt that we will succeed in our joint efforts,” Burilović said.

Franka Gulin, director of the newly-established office in Shanghai, also spoke about the office’s plans. “China is the world's largest market in every respect, and this fact is also the biggest challenge for us. However, I am confident in the excellent results that we will achieve in the future since the Croatian tourist offer contains everything that Chinese tourists prefer, such as rich cultural and historical heritage, untouched nature and high-quality gastronomy offer,” Gulin said.

During the first ten months of the year, 216,000 arrivals and 315,000 overnight stays were recorded from the Chinese market, representing a 43 percent increase in arrivals and a 42 percent increase in overnight stays compared to the same period last year. Chinese tourists made the most overnights in Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar.

When travelling to Europe, Chinese tourists they tend to visit several destinations. Because of this, the Croatian National Tourist Board and the Slovenian tourist organization carry out joint promotional activities on the Chinese market, as part of the project “Experience Croatia, Feel Slovenia”.

For more stories on Croatian tourism, click here.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Croatian Prime Minister Plenković Visits Shanghai

ZAGREB, November 4, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković who is paying a working visit to China from 2 to 6 November, on Sunday visited Shanghai and held talks with Mayor Ying Yong, and during his stay in this Chinese commercial hub he also toured the 36-kilometre-long Hangzhou Bay Bridge, built by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) which has been awarded the contract to construct Croatia's Pelješac Bridge.

Hangzhou Bay Bridge, which was inaugurated in 2008, is a highway bridge across Hangzhou Bay and connects the municipalities of Jiaxing and Ningbo in Zhejiang province. The bridge shortened the highway travel distance between Shanghai and the world biggest seaport of Ningbo from 400 to 180 kilometres, thus reducing travel time from four to two hours.

The CRBC corporation managed to build this cable-stayed bridge with the longest spam of 448 metres in five years. CRBC executives informed Plenković about the characteristics of the bridge, which is one of the longest highway bridges in the world.

After his talks with the Shanghai mayor Ying, the prime minister said that during the visit to Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the Croatian delegation had an opportunity to see how the CRBC corporation had been successful in completing the demanding job of building that 36-kilometre-long bridge within five years. “This is an extraordinary success,” Plenković said.

On 23 April this year, the Croatian road operator (Hrvatske Ceste) and the CRBC signed a contract for the construction of Pelješac Bridge and access roads, worth 2.08 billion kuna (281 million euro) excluding VAT. The bridge will be 2.4 kilometres long and 55 metres high. It should be built in 36 months and the beginning of the work was in July.

The Pelješac Bridge is to be constructed between the Croatian mainland and Pelješac peninsula to bypass the 15-kilometre-long stretch of the coast at Neum where Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the Adriatic Sea. The bridge will ensure connectivity between the Dubrovnik area and the rest of Croatia.

Croatian delegation's visit to Shanghai focuses on boosting economic ties

On Monday, Prime Minister Plenković and many other foreign leaders will attend the opening of China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

The prime minister is due to hold a meeting with Huawei top executives and also participate in the panel discussion "Trade & Innovation" in Shanghai. He will formally open the office of the Croatian National Tourism Board (HTZ) in the largest city in China by population and will participate in a Croatian-Chinese business forum to be organised there by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK). The HGK set up its office in Shanghai a year ago in a bid to provide stronger institutionalised support to all Croatian companies entering the Chinese market.

To read more about the Pelješac Bridge construction, click here.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Croatian Prime Minister Visits Hangzhou, China

ZAGREB, November 4, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Saturday visited Hangzhou, the capital of Zheijang, one of China's richest provinces, where he met with Che Jun, head of the province.

The province, which has a population of over 55 million, cooperates with Croatia at local level. It has a cooperation agreement with Istria County, recently it has signed a similar agreement with the Town of Split, and its city of Nangbo, the world's largest port, has been cooperating with Rijeka for several years.

"We talked with the leaders of the province about the further advancement of relations, given that half the trade with China comes from this province, which also has the largest port in the world," Plenković said. "We wish to attract further interest, notably in Chinese investment in Croatia. Here is also the headquarters of Alibaba, one of the most important global companies, which says enough about why we chose to come to Hangzhou," he said.

Zheijang accounts for 400 million dollars of the 900 million dollars in trade between China and Croatia.

Plenkovic said he planned to visit the 36-kilometre-long Hangzhou Bay bridge on Sunday. "Tomorrow we will visit one of the biggest sea bridges, which was built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation. For us, it is building the strategic and symbolically important Pelješac Bridge."

"That project is important both for Croatia and for China. For us, it is important because it’s an emblematic project which will connect two separate parts of the country, and for you, it's important because it's an unprecedented project in the cooperation between China and a European Union country," Plenković said.

He reiterated that he was pleased the China+16 initiative would meet in Croatia in 2019. "That's an opportunity for us to strengthen the relations with China," he said, adding that next year bilateral cooperation will focus on culture and tourism. "That's compatible with the China+16 initiative, where we will focus on cooperation between small and medium-sized companies, which are the backbone of every economy."

After the talks with Plenković, Che said Zheijang's cooperation with Croatia was excellent and recalled that the two countries were also linked by Marco Polo. The two countries are tied by a big friendship, both between China and Croatia and between Zheijang and Croatia. Marco Polo was born in Croatia and he introduced Europeans to Hanghzhou, he added.

The famous Venetian traveller from the end of the 13th century who, according to legend, was born on the Croatian island of Korčula, described Hanghzhou in his travel memoirs as the greatest city in the world. Che said this confirmed the two sides had good relations in the past.

It is necessary to expand cooperation in other areas, such as small and medium-sized enterprise, trade, culture, exchange of students and tourism. The potential for that is unlimited, he said.

Plenković on Friday began a five-day visit to China aimed at bolstering Croatia's political and economic relations with the world's second largest economy.

For more on Croatia’s relations with China, click here.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Plenković Meets With Prime Minister of China

ZAGREB, November 2, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang in Beijing on Friday, saying afterwards that China was interested in investing in the renewal of Croatia's rail infrastructure and shipbuilding industry, which could be realised as part of the China + 16 initiative.

Plenković today began a five-day working visit to China. "We talked about possible Chinese investment in the rail infrastructure, in ports, which is especially important to Croatia. We have developed a great road infrastructure, invested a lot in airports. However, we now have to further upgrade railways," he said, adding that the plan was to invest three billion euro in the rail infrastructure by 2030.

"The interest and expertise of Chinese companies could open new pages of cooperation, very concrete ones, as everyone is highly interested in the China + 16 framework," Plenković said, adding that Croatia would host the 2019 meeting of the initiative which promotes stronger cooperation between the world's second largest economy and the countries of east and central Europe.

He held working meetings with the executives of the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the China Railway Group Limited, Norinco, and the CSIC Shipbuilding Corporation. "We requested a meeting with the Chinese shipbuilding corporation. They are interested in partnership, in cooperation," Plenković said. He outlined the current state of Croatia's shipbuilding to CSIC, one of the world's largest shipbuilders. He recalled that CSIS had been cooperating with Croatia's Institute for Ship Hydrodynamics for some time now, saying "they are very satisfied with the expertise of Croatian experts."

Asked by reporters if it was possible to find a strategic partner for Croatia's ailing Uljanik dock, Plenković said it was and that there was interest, including from Fincantieri, DIV and Ukrainian companies. "The information we have presented here in China has fallen on fertile ground."

Plenković's meeting with Li was their fifth over the past two years. He said today they talked about increasing bilateral trade and that both were satisfied with the ongoing construction of the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia.

The bridge is being built by CRBC, whose CEO Lu Shan said after the talks with Plenković that this was "a very important moment" for the company. "This is an opportunity to present to the Croatian prime minister the project we have launched, the job we have done so far and the job we have lined up for the next few months."

Lu said it was important to CRBC to hire local labour and honour all environmental regulations. "It's quite a sophisticated bridge because of the quite big span of the central arch and the strict European laws on environmental protection. We must be very careful about all the technical issues, and the environment especially, so that we don't breach European standards or disappoint people."

For more on the Pelješac bridge construction, read here.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Croatia, China: Trade Deficit, Tourism Surplus

ZAGREB, November 2, 2018 - Croatia has a huge trade deficit with China which it tries to cushion, at least in part, with the rising number of Chinese tourists, so trade and tourism will dominate the talks Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will hold during his working visit to the world's most populous country on November 2-6.

Plenković will meet with China's top officials and leading business people. As part of the visit, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce will organise a Croatian-Chinese economic forum in Shanghai, where Croatia's National Tourist Board (HTZ) will open its first office in China.

China has a population of 1.4 billion and is the world's second biggest economy, its biggest exporter and it has the largest foreign-exchange reserves.

In 2017, Croatia's trade deficit with China amounted to 652 million dollars, 90 million dollars more than in 2016. The trends, however, are not that bad as Croatia's exports have been rising, by 50% to 125 million dollars in 2017 and by 44% this year.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Croatia is also rising. In 2016, they accounted for 216,000 arrivals and 315,000 nights, up 43% and 42% on the year respectively.

The HTZ has organised a joint campaign with Slovenia's National Tourist Board called "Experience Croatia, Feel Slovenia" aimed at raising the visibility and reputation of the two countries in China as attractive and authentic European destinations.

Interestingly, readers of the Chinese edition of Travel+Leisure magazine have voted Croatia as this year's most desirable new European destination.

The Chinese market's potential is huge and there is almost no limit to the rise in the number of Chinese tourists in Croatia. In 2016, they generated 122 million tourist trips around the world, spending $109.8 billion, with an annual growth rate of 5%.

Want to read more about Croatia and China? Click here.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Croatian Prime Minister Plenković to Visit China

ZAGREB, November 1, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will be on a working visit to China from November 2 to 6, during which he will meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other officials to discuss bilateral cooperation and cooperation in the China+16 format, the Croatian prime minister's public relations office announced in a press release on Wednesday.

Plenković will start his visit in Beijing, where he will meet with his host, Premier Li, and other Chinese officials and business people. The meetings are expected to reaffirm the good relationship and intensive political dialogue between the two countries, and discuss all aspects of bilateral cooperation and cooperation in the China+16 format, the press release said.

In 2019, Croatia will host the next meeting of the China+16 initiative which promotes cooperation between the world's second largest economy and countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Plenković and Li have met several times in the last two years, including at the China+16 summit in Sofia in July and the ASEM summit in Brussels in October.

After Beijing, the Croatian prime minister travels to Hangzhou on November 3 to meet with Che Jun, the Governor of Zhejiang province with which Croatia already has dynamic relations in terms of trade and business contacts. He is due to visit the 36-km-long Hangzhou Bay Bridge in the company of Lu Shan, the CEO of the China Road and Bridge Corporation, the company that will build the Pelješac Bridge.

The Croatian prime minister will then travel to Shanghai, the world's largest port, where, along with many world leaders and Chinese President Xi Jinping, he will attend the opening of the China International Import Expo fair, which is expected to attract over 2,800 companies from around the world. Croatia will be represented by a delegation of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and Croatian companies.

During his stay in Shanghai, Plenković will participate as a panellist in the Trade & Innovation Forum, and will open the office of the Croatian Tourist Board in the city.

Plenković will wrap up his visit to China by participating in a Chinese-Croatian business forum organised by the HGK, where business and investment opportunities in Croatia will be presented to Chinese partners.

Want to know more about Pelješac bridge construction? Click here.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Companies from China to Increase Their Investments in Croatia

A Croatian government delegation will travel to China to give a new, important impetus to further co-operation between China and Croatia. On Saturday, the Croatian Investment Forum in Beijing will gather representatives of some of the largest companies from China, but also Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, reports seebiz.eu on October 31, 2018.

Prior to the forum, Prime Minister Plenković will meet with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Friday to discuss overall Chinese-Croatian relations, with a special emphasis on economic co-operation, more specifically China's investments in Croatia.

In addition to Prime Minister Plenković, the delegation will include Transport Minister Oleg Butković, Regional Development Minister Gabrijela Žalac, State Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism Frano Matušić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts Nataša Mikuš Žigman, Zadar County Prefect Božidar Longin and many others.

The next day, the prime minister will attend an investment forum in Beijing where some of the largest Chinese companies will formalise their interest in investing in Croatia. State Construction Engineering Corporation, China Railway, State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited and Fanhua Group are just some of the giant Chinese companies that have expressed interest in investing in Croatia. Many agreements and letters of intent will be signed, which should mark the beginning of a new phase in Chinese-Croatian economic relations.

Infrastructure projects, including the container terminal in Zadar and the modernisation of the Zadar Airport, are some of the most interesting ones. Shipbuilding will be among the most important topics discussed at the investment forum. Chinese interest is good news for Croatian shipbuilding since among ten shipyards with the largest number of new orders, there are four shipyards from China. By ships delivered, half of the world’s largest shipyards are located in China.

Potentially one of the most attractive projects is the establishment of the international monetary settlement centre for renminbi (yuan). Zagreb and Croatia would become one of the most important points of the international money markets, bearing in mind the growing influence of Chinese currency in the international financial networks.

The Croatian investment forum in Beijing has drawn a great deal of media interest and it will be covered by the largest Chinese television and print media, as well as online media.

Want to know more about the relations between China and Croatia? Click here.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

China Allegedly Planning to Invest Billions in Croatia

The plans amount to 13 billion euros. How much will really be realised?

Page 8 of 15

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