Wednesday, 6 May 2020

HGK: Five Years for Trade Sector to Recover

ZAGREB, May 6, 2020 - It will take five years for the Croatian trade sector to recover from the impact of the crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said on Wednesday.

"The public must be aware that the trade sector has borne a heavy burden on its shoulders, without increasing margins or prices, which helped all the citizens in this crisis," the HGK vice-president for trade, Josip Zaher, said at a meeting of the HGK's trade association.

Zaher said that retail trade had dropped by 25% in April.

The association's president Ivica Katavić said: "We've been through two difficult months. There have been problems in business, including inspections, shorter business hours and limited entry into the shops. But we managed to keep our heads above water."

Katavić said that the restrictions that had done the greatest damage were shortened shop opening hours and e-passes allowing travel. "With the lifting of these restrictions, the situation has improved considerably. The situation was most difficult at the start of April, but considering the circumstances we must be satisfied. We are also satisfied with our communication with the HGK, who were at our service," he added.

The CEO of the Konzum retail chain, Slavko Ledić, said that the sharpest declines had been recorded in large stores. "The key move was to extend opening hours, it was even more important than Sunday trading. The most important thing for us was to have opening hours extended and that we could pay wages," Ledić said.

The CEO of textile distributor Tekstilpromet, Hrvoje Šimić, drew attention to problems faced by the non-food trade sector, which has 90,000 employees.

"Over a period of 50 days our turnover was zero, while at the same time banks showed no sympathy. Some of the shopping centres also did not prove to be good business partners to Croatian traders because, for example, they sent their invoices for May already in mid-April," Šimić said.

More economic news can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Croatian Chamber of Commerce Seeking to Relax Measures for Driving Schools

Croatia has gradually begun to loosen up its formerly stringent anti-epidemic measures, and the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) is seeking more freedoms for driving schools and international drivers.

As Novac writes on the 4th of May, 2020, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce has asked the National Civil Protection Headquarters to relax some of the measures applicable to drivers in international road freight transport, as well as others which will provide better grounding for the start of driving school operations on May the 11th, 2020.

At the request of the members of the Road Freight Association, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce has proposed that quarantine and home/self-isolation measures for international drivers be carried out under the same conditions as drivers in domestic transport.

''According to the current regulations, a driver must not leave their house or their assigned accommodation where they're self-isolating, except in the case of a call from their employer for transport. On their return from a foreign country, they then begin a new cycle of self-isolation, and changing the driving and staying-at-home cycles in this regime can take up to a month, in some cases it takes even longer.

As the drivers operating under this regime don't have symptoms of illness, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce believes that they should be allowed to go to the store and pharmacy as needed and have a limited stay outside of their homes just like other people do,'' said the Croatian Chamber of Commerce's Vice President for Construction, Transport and Communications, Mirjana Cagalj.

The Association of Driving Schools of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce has also proposed that the measures for them be relaxed in order to enable the continued running of driving lessons from May the 11th onwards, with the application of horizontal and specific protection measures. They believe that with the education of staff and strict adherence to health regulations, both theory and practical teaching can be held smoothly, and they have been given specific suggestions on how to implement it by the National Cvil Protection Headquarters.

Make sure to follow our dedicated section for more on coronavirus in Croatia.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Croatian Chamber of Commerce: Croatia Must Rely Less on Imports

As Novac writes on the 26th of April, 2020, one of the lessons during this pandemic that Croatia needs to learn is certainly that it needs to rely more on indigenous resources and reduce its dependence on imports, and this includes the production of energy from renewable energy sources, which is constantly and strongly growing, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) has stated.

The coronavirus pandemic, on the one hand, has shown what the planet can look like with reduced pollution, and on the other, it has shed light on all of the vulnerabilities of the system and the need to change our behaviour.

"Most EU member states support the initiative to put the European Green Plan at the very heart of the post-pandemic economic recovery, because the world can only make economic, environmental and social progress if we clearly and firmly commit to clean and renewable energy. We need to strategically make sure that we're developing the resources we already have, thus enhancing the competitiveness of the economy,'' said Ivo Covic, President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce's Renewable Energy Community, which has been advocating for the development of this energy sector for fifteen years now, with its main focus on establishing a regulatory framework for renewable energy.

April the 26th marked World Renewable Energy Day, it commemorated the tragic Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe and the necessity to continue research and apply renewable energy as much as possible.

Croatian legislation is awaiting significant changes this year in regard to the energy sector. In addition to the European Green Plan, which brings with it major changes and the implementation of new technological and systematic solutions throughout the entire European Union, a law on amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act is expected in Croatia by the end of the year, which will further strengthen efforts to reduce dependence on energy imports.

The Law on the electricity market is planned for the end of this year, and the Croatian Government is planning to submit a new law in September to Parliament on renewable energy sources and high efficiency cogeneration.

"With regard to the new energy development strategy, as well as the objectives of the European Green Plan, Croatia has a great challenge ahead of it to achieve the set goals by the end of 2030, so the adoption of regulations and laws is of enormous importance. Now is an opportunity to prepare the local economy, but also citizens, to be involved as much as possible in the preparation and construction of new projects,'' said the Croatian Chamber of Commerce's Energy and Environmental Sector Director, Marija Šćulac Domac, noting that by increasing the use of renewable energy sources, not only will Croatia contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment, but it will also help the local economy and job creation within the sector.

The International Renewable Energy Agency predicts that the number of jobs in the renewable energy sector will increase to 42 million over the next thirty years.

Follow our business and Total Eco Croatia pages for more.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

HUP and HGK Welcome Decision to Relax Coronavirus Measures

ZAGREB, April 23, 2020 - The Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) on Thursday welcomed the government's plan to relax restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak, saying that clear guidelines were needed from epidemiologists and that solutions should be devised to boost the economy.

"Today's decision by the government provides a clear direction for intensifying business activities and for a return to work as a precondition for generating revenues and providing funds for workers' wages," the HUP said in a statement.

HUP director-general Davor Majetić appealed for clear and unequivocal instructions on safe work procedures to be given to employers as soon as possible.

"Businesses need precise instructions so that they can do all that is necessary to be able to operate in new conditions and in accordance with guidelines from epidemiologists," Majetić said, adding that this would enable resumption of business activity without a threat of penalties and business closures over unclear interpretations of guidelines.

"We think it is important that together with the government we ensure that the required measures are applicable and practicable," Majetić said.

He also mentioned the need to create conditions and solutions that would boost the economy next year. Citing conservative estimates according to which 300,000 people would be out of work by the end of the year, Majetić said: "That's why solutions need to be urgently devised to provide a stronger boost to the economy."

The HUP proposed nine measures to revive the economy: maintain liquidity for businesses, carry out an urgent analysis of parafiscal levies to reduce the highest ones at least for a specific period of time, reorganise public administration and the territorial structure of the country, digitise government services, reform labour legislation, resume public procurement procedures, increase private sector investment, improve cooperation between local businesses and local government, ensure that VAT is charged on settlement, and increase self-sufficiency in food and medicines.

The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) also welcomed the government's decision to gradually relax the measures imposed over the coronavirus epidemic, saying that this would slowly bring the economy back to life.

"We need to be very careful because everything we have done can quickly go down the drain. I believe that with responsible behaviour we can show that the economy and public health can go hand in hand," HGK president Luka Burilović said.

The HGK said it was pleased that its proposal had been accepted and that all retail shops would reopen as of Monday, but added that shopping malls should have been allowed to reopen too. It also mentioned the acceptance of its suggestion that public transport be restored so that workers could travel to work.

Burilović said that the government should consider allowing all hospitality businesses to resume work under strict conditions as of May 11 so that they would not have to lay off people. "Their reopening could save at least a bit of the tourist season, although we are aware that (the tourism industry) will take a long time to recover," he said.

More economy news can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Croatian Chamber of Commerce Calls for Changes to Measures for Shops

The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) has started to get itchy feet in the face of the stringent anti-epidemic measures put into place by the Croatian Government and the National Civil Protection Headquarters. The opening hours for shops are giving them the biggest headache.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 22nd of April, 2020, Croatian wholesale trade has dropped significantly, more precisely from 8.1 percent (from 9.6 billion kuna down to 8.9 billion kuna) in the previous month compared to March last year, while the situation in the retail trade was slightly better as the amount of fiscal receipts issued decreased by just 2.9 per cent, from 7.3 billion kuna down to 7.1 billion kuna.

The Croatian Chamber of Commerce has asked the National Civil Protection Headquarters to lift the current coronavirus restrictions on the operation of all Croatian shops.

"The current favourable epidemiological picture makes it possible for us to be able to open all stores, of course, with the strict implementation of the necessary epidemiological measures. These days, more and more people are returning to work, and most aren't managing to arrive at stores until 17:00, which puts unnecessary pressure on both the stores and on the health of the crowds of people waiting. Re-introducing normal working hours would optimise this and benefit the whole economy,'' said the Croatian Chamber of Commerce's Vice President for Trade and Finance, Josip Zaher, adding that security measures should be determined by the number of visitors relative to the square footage of the shop's premises.

"This will enable the opening of almost all stores without any discrimination, and special attention should be paid to the opening of large shopping centres due to the large fluctuation of customers," Zaher explained, noting that trade is an extremely important activity for the Croatian economy and that we should enable the normalisation of the conditions for it as soon as possible, in order to try to stem the decline in Croatia's economic activity.

Make sure to follow our dedicated section for all you need to know about coronavirus in Croatia. Follow our business page for more on the Croatian economy.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Easter Consumption Down 14 %

ZAGREB, April 15, 2020 - Croatian citizens have spent HRK 1.2 billion over the Easter holidays, down 14 percent from last year when they spent 1.4 billion, according to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

According to the Tax Authority, a turnover of HRK 976 million was generated in trade and HRK 838.3 million in retail between Holy Thursday and Easter Monday.

Although this is a significant fall, these figures show that the economy has not stopped, despite lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus, a HGK official said.

Given that the said figures do not include sales results generated by family farms whose business has significantly increased over the past several weeks, we can conclude that Croatia is dealing with the crisis well and that there is no significant fall in consumption, the HGK official said.

More economy news can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Unequal Treatment of Truck Drivers Will Lead to Collapse of Supply

ZAGREB, March 24, 2020 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) road hauliers' association warned on Monday that the uneven treatment of foreign and domestic hauliers in implementing measures against the spread of coronavirus would result in the collapse of supply.

"According to information from the ground, more than 60% of domestic hauliers are either in self-isolation or quarantine, which puts an enormous strain on our companies. If transport collapses, the shelves in the shops will remain empty and the consequences will soon be felt by the entire economic sector," HGK vice-president Mirjana Čagalj said.

Road hauliers say that when driving and loading or unloading their trucks, drivers do not come into contact with other people, which is why they should be enabled to self-isolate at home, under epidemiological observation, and that they should be allowed to work as long as they do not have any symptoms.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Croatian Chamber of Commerce Cancelling Fees for Struggling Businesses

As the coronavirus crisis tightens its grip on public health and the gloal economy, the powers that be in Croatia are stepping forward to at least bring more financial ease to Croatian companies and enterprises during these extremely tying and unpredictable times. The Croatian Chamber of Commerce, which is frequently otherwise critised, is one of them.

As Novac/Adriano Milovan writes on the 20th of March, 2020, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) has decided to suspend the obligation for Croatian companies to have to pay membership fees if their operations have been disabled due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The move from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce was also based on the decision of the Civil Protection Staff of the Republic of Croatia and their measures on limiting social gatherings, social and sporting events, and so on.

''This is a situation where we all have to carry the burden and show some solidarity. We're reduce wages and defering any expenses not necessary for function. The focus of all our activities is on solving the problems of businesses. Our expert services receive thousands of inquiries per day, and the contact centre is available for contact 24 hours a day. At this point, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce is the economic headquarters of the entire country,'' said the Croatian Chamber of Commerce's president, Luka Burilovic.

The Financial Services Department of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce undertook an analysis and made the decision to cancel membership fees for the next three months, or for as long as necessary, depending on the situation with coronavirus, for all entrepreneurs who, due to the difficult situation in which they've now found themselves, aren't generating income.

"Given the current situation, this step is the only logical continuation of our efforts to make life easier for businesses during this crisis," Burilovic concluded.

Make sure to follow our business page for more on business in Croatia. Stay up to date with our dedicated section for rolling information in English on coronavirus in Croatia.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Winemakers Need Stronger Government Support

ZAGREB, February 10, 2020 - The Wine Act has ensured a key role for winemakers and their regional organisations in branding and protecting their wines, but wine promotion needs stronger government support, the vice-president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) for agriculture and tourism, Dragan Kovačević, said on Monday.

Kovačević was speaking at En Primeur, a tasting of young Istrian Malvazija wines at Zagreb's Hotel Esplanade. The event was organised by the Vinistra association.

Kovačević said that Austria allocated over €8 million annually for the promotion of its wines and that Croatia should do the same according to its financial ability.

"For us wine is not just a food and potentially important export product. Wine also plays an important role in tourism and helps in branding Croatia as a wine and food destination. That's why the HGK, together with our winemakers, has begun talks with the Ministry of Agriculture to meet all formal conditions so that financing regional organisations of winemakers and the national promotion of wines becomes an item in the state budget for 2021," Kovačević said.

Citing data for 2018, Krunoslav Karalić, Assistant Minister of Agriculture, said that the winemaking sector was recording positive trends, with wine imports decreasing and exports increasing.

"We will do all we can so that these trends continue," Karalić said, adding that this sector was an example of excellent cooperation between the ministry and producers who had participated in the preparation of the Wine Act.

The new national aid programme for the winemaking sector went into force at the start of 2019, ensuring HRK 11 million annually for promotion in the European Union and third countries and for investment in wineries and the restructuring and conversion of vineyards, Karalić said.

More news about the wine industry in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Economy Heading in Right Direction, Calls for Stepping up Pace

ZAGREB, December 11, 2019 - Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) president Luka Burilović said on Wednesday that the national economy was heading in the right direction but called for stepping up the pace.

"We can be moderately satisfied with the outgoing year. All important macroeconomic indicators are positive. We have yet another record tourist year and our consumption and investments have been growing. That growth is still not at the rates we want it to be at but is enough to make us optimistic about next year. We are heading in the right direction but we must step up the pace - that is the message that we have been sending the government all the time," Burilović said at a session of the HGK Assembly.

Speaking of challenges, he said one of the biggest was a labour shortage.

If the education system does not follow market needs, we will have big problems, he said.

The Digital Chamber project, which is in its final stage and is expected to be completed by the end of March next year, was presented at the HGK Assembly session.

The project is an information-communication platform for e-services intended for HGK members, public administration and citizens.

The digital chamber will make information on possible financing sources more available to enterprises, enable them to better present their products and services and involve them more actively in creating the business climate.

The total value of the project is 28.7 million kuna, of which 85% comes from EU funds and 15% has been provided by the HGK.

More economy news can be found in the Business section.

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