Saturday, 28 May 2022

Croatian Olive Oil Wows in New York, 3rd in World in Terms of Quality

May the 28th, 2022 - Croatian olive oil's top quality is recognised throughout the world and has won countless awards in numerous prestigious international competitions. Croatian olive oil has once again wowed in the Big Apple, with Croatia being placed third in terms of the quality of its much loved produce.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at the recently held New York International Olive Oil Competition, NYIOOC World, Croatia came in third place in terms of the number of medals won, right after Italy and Spain, as reported by Maslina/Olive.

Croatia has outdone itself when it comes to its olive oil yet again by coming third, as last year the country came fourth in this, the largest and most prestigious olive oil competition held in Manhattan, right in the middle of New York, Croatian olive oil also overtook the USA, leaving the Americans in 4th place.

In addition, Croatia is the best in terms of the percentage of success of its reported olive oils. Out of 112 registered samples from across Croatia, 96 of them received medals, representing 86 percent of success, and this is by far the best performance of olive oil from all countries that registered more than 40 of their samples.

Croatian olive oils won a total of 96 medals, of which 66 were gold and 27 were silver. Dalmatian olive growers won the most medals for the Republic of Croatia with their oils - a total of 55 medals.

Admittedly, the highest number of gold medals for Croatia was won, unsurprisingly, by the Istrians this year. Last year the Dalmatians took that place. The Dalmatians won 29 gold medals, while the Istrians took home 37.

Olive growers from Zadar County won a total of 11 awards, of which seven were gold medals and four were silver. Gold: Lepur (2), Bovan, Plastic, Lalin, Vulin and Morovic. Silver: Dr. Vlatkovic (2), Skopic and OP-Ko-milfa.

Olive oils from all over the world competed in this New York competition, and a total of 543 gold and 257 silver medals were awarded globally.

In terms of the number of medals won, Italy came first place with 158 medals, followed by Spain with a total of 128 medals, Croatia took third place with 96 medals, the United States came in fourth place with 94 medals and Greece landed fifth place.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Monday, 4 April 2022

Croatia, U.S. Signing Global Entry Agreement

4 April 2022 - Croatia and the United States will sign an agreement today on Croatia's entry to the Global Entry programme which will allow some Croatian citizens privileged entry to the US, Under Secretary of Commerce Marisa Lago said on Monday.

As of October 2021, Croatian citizens can travel to the US without a visa for tourist and business trips lasting up to 90 days.

Speaking at a US-Croatia Forum in Zagreb, Lago announced another step in the removal of barriers to bilateral trade.

Global Entry, a programme of the US Department of Homeland Security, allows pre-approved expedited clearance upon arrival into the US. The US has signed such an agreement with only three European countries, Germany, UK and Switzerland, and Croatia will now be the fourth.

Speaking at the forum, Lago said the US and Croatia had been registering similar economic and political successes in bilateral relation for decades, citing Croatia's recent entry to the Visa Waiver Program and the completion of negotiations on a double taxation avoidance  agreement.

Speaking of the war in Ukraine, she said the horrible scenes were a reminder of the suffering Croatia went through during its 1991-95 Homeland War. The US stood by Croatia in those difficult times, she added.

Before the forum, she and the US president's special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for talks on reducing energy dependence, stimulating investment, increasing trade, and the completion of negotiations on the double taxation avoidance agreement.

Plenković said the Russian invasion of Ukraine threatened international peace and security, and that in such circumstances it was necessary to strengthen the unity of the EU and the US as well as to continue to help Ukraine.

With Escobar, Plenković discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the importance of its political parties reaching an agreement to change the election law, the government said in a press release.

Monday, 4 April 2022

U.S. Market Represents Big Opportunity for Croatian Economy, Panel Hears

4 April 2022 - The U.S. market represents a big opportunity for the Croatian economy and the areas in which cooperation can increase include IT, tourism, and energy, it was said on Monday at a panel on trade, business and investment ties between the two countries.

The panel was held as part of the U.S.-Croatia Forum, organised by the U.S. Embassy on the occasion of 30 years of diplomatic relations between the United States and Croatia.

Croatia must find niches, five to ten products in which it can compete globally, and they can be sought in tourism and IT, said Mihael Furjan, CEO of the Pliva pharmaceutical company and president of the Croatian Employers Association.

Given the LNG terminal, there is also energy, he added, noting that Pliva is Croatia's biggest exporter to the U.S. and that HS Produkt is a major gun exporter.

The U.S. and Croatian governments must find areas in which we can cooperate. We must focus more, be creative, he said, adding that Croatia should learn from the U.S. where it is most successful, in innovation and business education.

U.S. business schools are among the best in the world and U.S. companies are the most innovative globally, Furjan said. 

Double taxation avoidance and visa-free travel

AmCham executive director Andrea Doko Jelušić said that Croatia, although a small country, had things to offer to the U.S. market. It's necessary to focus on high-added-value industries in which one can be competitive, not selling oneself cheaply but expensively, she added.

Many U.S. companies doing business in Croatia do so via a European centre, the Netherlands or Ireland for example, as a result of which official statistics don't show the real extent of their presence on the Croatian market, she said.

The Croatian and U.S. ministries of finance are still negotiating a double taxation avoidance agreement, whose adoption will make it much easier for small Croatian companies to enter the U.S. market, she said and underlined the importance of visa-free travel as of last October.

Končar exporting much more to US

Končar CEO Gordan Kolak said the company was exporting to the U.S. recently much more than before and that the U.S. was its main market for transformers.

He said increased investment in renewables would create new needs for electricity equipment and solutions for solar and hydroelectric power plants as well as wind parks. Emphasis will also be on digitalisation and grid modernisation as well as on more efficient energy management as consumers also become producers, he added.

Končar will invest much more in software development and smart grid management solutions, Kolak said.

Importance of U.S. investors in Infobip

Infobip is a global IT and communication company providing cloud mobile communication services for business clients. It also cooperates with WhatsApp, Snapchat, Google, and Microsoft.

It is the first Croatian company whose value exceeds $1 billion and in the last 18 months it has made four acquisitions on the U.S. market. Some U.S. investment funds have invested in it.

Infobip CEO Silvio Kutić underlined the importance of US investors. Speaking of enhancing U.S.-Croatia business cooperation, he underlined the importance of education and the need for an investment protection system.

Education for labour market

Coca-Cola HBC Adria general manager Ruža Tomić Fontana, too, underlined the importance of education, saying the education system must adapt to market needs in order to create a workforce with the necessary skills.

It's also necessary to enhance the communication between the public and private sectors on the business environment and to ensure the stability and predictability of doing business, said said, pointing to the problem of a too-high tax burden.

Anita Cvetić Oreščanin, Board member at Poslovna inteligencija, said Croatian companies should learn from U.S. companies and that everyone who had the opportunity should visit to get acquainted with the U.S. market.

Monday, 4 April 2022

Ukraine Crisis Won't Spill Over to Western Balkans, Biden's Envoy Says

4 April 2022 - The war in Ukraine cannot spill over to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia is an example of a smart energy policy, the United States administration's special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, said on Monday.

Speaking at the US-Croatia Forum in Zagreb, he said he did not think the Ukraine crisis could spill over to Croatia's neighbourhood because it had returned Europe's focus to dealing with crises around it.

The war in Ukraine has also led to EU membership candidates pro-actively showing solidarity with Western values, Escobar said, adding that Serbia condemned the Russian invasion at the UN General Assembly early in March, calling this a seismic change.

Nonetheless, he said, Serbia is not the toughest topic he discusses with other countries in the neighbourhood, but BiH.

US-Serbia relations go back 140 years and all this time Belgrade has been a close partner to Washington, for example in the two world wars, he added.

The question today is how to draw Serbia to Western democracies, where it has always been and where it belongs, Escobar said, adding that the integration process slowed down during the Slobodan Milošević regime which, he said, was marked by bad governance.

Escobar is confident that the next generation of Serbs will lean more towards Europe, saying they prove this by emigrating to Europe and the US, not to China and Russia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

As for BiH, which, he has reiterated, does not have an ethnic but a corruption problem, he said it was the biggest challenge in the Western Balkans and that it was a country where the West's promises had been fulfilled the least.

Escobar said he hoped that BiH would hold general elections this year.

According to him, it is key to establish functional authorities that will fight against corruption, attract investment and create conditions for young people. However, he said, BiH is a sovereign state and the political will must come from within.

We must encourage them, but it is their responsibility to find solutions, he said about BiH political leaders.

Croatia as a good ally

Escobar went on to say that Croatia is always present in the relations with the US, whether in terms of energy diversification or helping Ukrainian refugees, which, he added, he could not say about all US allies.

Croatia is an outstanding example of a smart energy policy and other countries should follow it, he said, referring to the LNG terminal which Croatia built before the current energy supply crisis.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

Croatia Asking for US Patriot Air Defence System, Jutarnji List Says

ZAGREB, 13 March 2022 - A Croatian Defence Ministry delegation is travelling to Washington next week to ask for the temporary deployment of the Patriot air defence system in Croatia, Jutarnji List newspaper said on Sunday, citing an unofficial source.

Jutarnji List asked Defence Minister Mario Banožić on Thursday whether Croatia was discussing air defence assistance with its allies, and he said that the matter would be discussed in Washington next week. The source quoted by the newspaper on Sunday said that the Patriot surface-to-air missile system would also be on the agenda.

The US army recently installed this system in Poland as part of NATO's defence. These systems are stationed in Germany, from where the US army deploys them elsewhere in Europe.

The US army used the Patriot system last year for the Astral Knight exercise at Zemunik air base, inland from the central Croatian Adriatic city of Zadar.

As an affordable solution for the Croatian medium-range air defence system, many professionals recommend the purchase of the Norwegian NASAMS system, the newspaper said.

For more on this and Croatia's response to the Russia-Ukraine war, visit TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Croatian Degordian Agency Opens New York Office, Plans US Expansion

December the 16th, 2021 - The Croatian Degordian agency is well known across the country for its success, and now they're eyeing expansion across the pond following their opening of another New York office.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, back in September this year, David Ackermann, the CEO of Croatian Degordian agency for digital marketing and production announced the possibility of opening new offices in international markets where their revenues grew by 180 percent and from where they're getting more projects than ever. Some of these offices are close to home in the rest of Europe such as in the UK and Austria, but the USA has also been on their map. Their announcement came true and they have now opened their fourth office in New York.

Expansion to international markets

The Croatian Degordian agency started out twelve years ago with their first office here in the City of Zagreb. Mostar in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina then soon followed, and then the Serbian capital of Belgrade was next, which "cemented" their very strong regional position, but now, they say, they are targeting the demanding American market.

Over in New York, they plan to build a customer base, expanding to the rest of the US, and produce all of their solutions offered right here in the Adriatic region. The Croatian Degordian agency also pointed out that their desire is to provide a top team of experts across the Atlantic who are confident that they can build and implement the highest quality and most complex global projects.

Their New York office will be headed by Swany Velazquez, and the idea is to create a zero point, ie a starting point for the American market. Their New York business development team will focus on developing partnerships, sales networks, networking, and client network development.

Although New York is known as the world's most advanced market with absolutely enormous needs, Degordian believes that there are only a dozen large and serious agencies there, while others are smaller, have too few people, a very narrow range of services, and often insufficient experience and knowledge. It's natural that they're seeing opportunity in the Big Apple.

The Croatian Degordian agency has won the “Best Employer” award six times and they claim to have better access to talent, an extremely qualified and capable team, but also a stronger set of services. The head of the New York office and executive director for the North American market, Swany Velazquez, sees huge potential in Degordian and says she has been following it for several years now.

“I've always been fascinated by Degordian's culture, talent, team and quality. I’ve been present in the US market for years now, but I don’t know when I last saw something like this. I think Degordian has huge potential both in NYC and globally. I'm really looking forward to new beginnings. We want to repeat what was done in Croatia in NYC,'' said Velazquez of the move.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

CDC Says No to Travel to Croatia: Country Considered High Risk

October the 28th, 2021 - The CDC has recommended that people do not travel to Croatia as the country is now considered to be high risk for the contraction of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, level 4 or high-risk countries are those that have had more than 500 cases of COVID-19 reported per 10,000 inhabitants over the last 28 days, according to the CDC.

“Avoid travelling to these destinations. If you do have to travel to these destinations, you should be fully vaccinated before travelling,'' advises the CDC, and this message now applies to travel to Croatia, which has seen a dramatic increase in infection cases over the last few days.

As many as 77 countries are on the CDC's list of high-risk countries due to their respective epidemiological situations, and Croatia has now unfortunately joined them, as reported by N1.

The CDC does not recommend that people travel to Croatia, and they point out that due to the current epidemiological picture here, even vaccinated people are at risk of infection and spreading the now numerous active new coronavirus variants.

Other popular tourist destinations on the list of high-risk countries are Jamaica, Turkey and Thailand, and among the European nations; Austria, Greece, Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. You can see the full list of countries to which travel is being discouraged compiled by the CDC by clicking here.

In addition, the CDC doesn't recommend international travel for unvaccinated people whatsoever, CNN reports. Travellers who are fully vaccinated are less likely to become infected and spread the virus further, but international travel still poses a risk to all, according to the CDC.

For more on travel to Croatia during the coronavirus pandemic, including border rules and the locations of testing centres and vaccination points, make sure to check out our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman: Cancellation of Visa Regime For US is "New Recognition" of Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - The cancellation of visa requirements for Croatian nationals travelling to the United States is "a new recognition" 30 years after the recognition of Croatia, and a law on avoiding double taxation is expected to be signed now, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Tuesday.

Thirty years after the recognition of the Republic of Croatia this is "a new recognition", the minister said commenting on the announcement by the US Department of Homeland Security about Croatia joining the Visa Waiver Program.

Exactly a year has passed since the end of the fiscal year in the United States and that was the deadline for Croatia to submit a sufficient number of qualified applications, which means the visa refusal rate had to be below three percent, he recalled.

That qualified Croatia for the cancellation of visa requirements in addition to some other minor conditions, such as security in air traffic, he said.

The next step that both countries are expecting soon is signing an agreement on avoiding double taxation, which will facilitate business communication.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

U.S. to Lift Pandemic Travel Restrictions, Easing Tension With Europe

September 21, 2021 - Travelers who provide proof of full vaccination against the coronavirus before boarding a flight will be able to enter the United States, ending an 18-month ban on travel from 33 countries includes members of the European Union as part of the U.S. pandemic travel restrictions.

The New York Times reports that the Biden administration will lift pandemic travel restrictions starting in November for foreigners who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, reopening the country to thousands of people, including those who have been separated from family in the United States during the pandemic, and easing a major source of tension with Europe.

The halt to the 18-month ban on travel from 33 countries, including members of the European Union, China, Iran, South Africa, Brazil, and India, could help rejuvenate a U.S. tourism industry that has been crippled by the pandemic travel restrictions. The industry suffered a $500 billion loss in travel expenditures in 2020, according to the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group that promotes travel to and within the United States.

In New York City alone, the lack of tourists wiped out 89,000 jobs and resulted in a loss of more than $60 billion in revenue, the state comptroller found.

“Everyone says New York is back, New York is back, but it’s not really back until tourists are back from all countries,” said Leyla Saleh, 28, a pastry chef whose father was forced to shut down his gift shop in Midtown Manhattan last year because he did not have enough business.

Foreign travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding and a negative coronavirus test within three days of coming to the United States, Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, said on Monday. Unvaccinated Americans who want to travel home from overseas will have to clear stricter testing requirements. They will need to test negative for the coronavirus one day before traveling to the United States and show proof that they have bought a test to take after arriving in the United States, Mr. Zients said.

“International travel is critical to connecting families and friends, to fueling small and large businesses, to promoting the open exchange of ideas and culture,” Mr. Zients said. “That’s why, with science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel.”

The changes announced on Monday apply only to air travel and do not affect pandemic travel restrictions along the land border, Mr. Zients said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers people fully inoculated two weeks after they receive the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those who have received vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine, would also be considered fully vaccinated, according to a statement from Thomas Skinner, a C.D.C. spokesman.

The C.D.C. will also issue an order directing airlines to collect phone numbers and email addresses of travelers for a new contact-tracing system. Authorities will then follow up with the travelers after arrival to ask whether they are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

Although the new rules open up travel for some, they shut it down for others.

Unvaccinated people will soon be broadly banned from visiting the United States even if they are coming from countries such as Japan, which have not faced restrictions on travel to America during the pandemic. The restrictions will create substantial complications for people who want to travel to the United States from countries where it is more difficult to get vaccinated, according to Willie Walsh, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association, a trade group of the world’s airlines.

Follow the latest flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

American Travel Mag Lists Rovinj Among Best 17 Small Towns in Europe

August the 29th, 2021 - The popular American Travel and Leisure magazine has listed the gorgeous Istrian coastal town of Rovinj among the best seventeen small European towns.

As Novac writes, the Travel and Leisure magazine has published a list of the seventeen best small towns in Europe in their opinion, which includes Rovinj.

The article, signed by journalist Anne Olivia Bauso, points out that their chosen charming European towns are adorned with amazing landscapes, delicious food and much more, she adds that for every Paris, Rome and London, there are a hundred small European cities that capture the spirit of their nation; from a tiny Icelandic suburb surrounded by amazing landscapes to an ancient coastal settlement on the Black Sea, and advises readers to add these seventeen little places in Europe to their wish list.

The aforementioned writer describes Rovinj as a small town whose facades are painted in bright colours, with a baroque church on a hill. All this was created on a small peninsula that makes up the ancient fishing port of Rovinj - the flagship of the Istrian part of the Croatian coast.

The text also mentions freshly caught sardines from the Croatian Adriatic sea, famous local truffles, wine from indigenous Istrian grapes, as well as the fact that it is worth tasting various wildly popular Istrian delights, such as truffles and wine and cheese.

The description ends with a proposal to visit a famous Istrian National Park, which stretches across the stunning Brijuni Islands and is an excellent idea for a day trip by boat from nearby Fazana.

Here is the list of the seventeen best small towns in Europe according to this American publication, from as far north as Iceland and England to as far south as Greece and Spain:

Zell am See, Austria
Gangi, Sicily, Italy
Bled, Slovenia
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Cadaqués, Catalonia, Spain
Sozopol, Bulgaria
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France
Otepää, Estonia
Otranto, Italy
Zermatt, Switzerland
Idbidos, Portugal
Rovinj, Croatia
Castelsardo, Sardinia, Italy
Ambleside, England
Pyrgi, Greece
Telč, Czech Republic

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

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