Tuesday, 19 November 2019

AD Plastik, HiPP, Media Val and OiV Win Prizes for Corporate Social Responsibility

ZAGREB, November 19, 2019 - This year's laureates for prizes of corporate social responsibility (CSR), according to the results measured by the CSR index, are AD Plastik, HiPP Croatia, Media Val and OiV companies.

The AD Plastik car parts manufacturer was awarded in the large companies category, HiPP in the medium-sized businesses category, Media Val won in the small business category and the OiV - Transmission and Communications company is the best in the sector of public companies.

The awards were presented at a conference for socially responsible business, organised by the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development (HR PSOR) and the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

Other companies were also awarded such as Heineken Croatia in the category of responsible business and practice in the working environment and Ericsson Nikola Tesla in the category of policies and practice in environment management.

The DVOKUT-ECRO environment management company was awarded for socially responsible relations with the community. The INA oil company was awarded for responsible policies of diversity and protection of human rights.

The Vinag flooring manufacturer was awarded for the biggest progress.

The main theme of this year's conference was climate change.

The director of the energy and environment protection sector at HGK, Marija Šćulac Domac underscored the importance of caring for the environment. She said that climate change has a much greater impact on the Mediterranean area than anywhere else in the world.

"During Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU, we will continue working on strengthening the unique multilateral system and on promoting the 2030 Agenda within the EU and UN," Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said, calling on companies to be socially accountable.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Large Potential for Cooperation between Croatian and Russian Companies Exists

ZAGREB, November 13, 2019 - The potential for cooperation between Croatian and Russian companies is big, notably in energy, agriculture, the pharmaceutical, food and textile industries, and tourism, the Croatia-Novosibirsk Business Meeting at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) heard on Wednesday.

The HGK has been supporting the expansion of its members to Russia for years, HGK vice president Ivan Barbarić said, adding that the Novosibirsk region could offer a lot to entrepreneurs who dared to venture into that faraway and, to Croatians, still exotic market.

The region is rich in natural resources with large reserves of gas, coal, bauxite and other metals, huge forest resources and mineral springs, and a very developed and diversified economy, he said.

Its leading industries are aviation, energy, the manufacture of textile and farming machinery, electronic components and devices, and metallurgy, Barbaric said, voicing hope that entrepreneurs would find profitable joint projects.

Russian Ambassador Anvar Azimov said an intergovernmental commission of the two countries would meet in Moscow later this month, including four working groups that would define future cooperation in the economy and culture.

He said Croatia-Russia trade in 2018 totalled 1.5 billion dollars and that he hoped this year it would surpass 2 billion dollars.

He said hydrocarbons accounted for 95% of Russian exports to Croatia and that they would like to diversify.

Azimov said 200 million dollar worth of Croatian exports to Russia was expected by the end of the year but that this was still too little, adding that he could remember when the exports reached 500 million dollars.

He invited Croatian companies to be more active on the Russian market. Competition is big but I am confident that there are niches also for Croatian companies, he said, urging Croatian entrepreneurs to promote their interests on the Russian market more aggressively.

The president of the Novosibirsk City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Yuri Bernadsky, said now was the time to raise economic cooperation to a higher level.

In one year alone, trade between the Novosibirsk region and the EU went up by over 50%, gross regional product reached 18.5 billion dollars and more than half the industries are high-tech, he said.

The presentation of investment possibilities in Croatia and Novosibirsk was followed by meetings of 25 Croatian and Russian companies.

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

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Croatia's Tourism and Economy Promoted at China International Import Expo

ZAGREB, November 7, 2019 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and Croatian National Tourism Board (HTZ) on Thursday, presented Croatia's economy and tourism at the China international import expo, which is being held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10.

This is the 2nd edition of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) with more than 150,000 Chinese and foreign buyers and exhibitors from more than 100 countries and Croatia is participating in the expo with its "Croatia Day" exhibition which has enabled numerous contacts between Croatian companies and Chinese partners, HGK and HTZ informed on Thursday.

HGK president, Luka Burilović, said that the Chinese market is no longer reserved for only the most courageous and that the door to the Chinese market is open for the entire world.

"This is an opportunity that we must not miss and this fair is proof that China is turning to imports and reducing its trade surplus. It is important for us to be permanently present here. Our exports to China increased by 25% last year alone which is proof that we can compete on such a large market. On the wings of good indicators and good political relations it is time for even more concrete results," Burilović said.

He added that last year's expo was beyond expectations and business deals valued at 50.8 billion dollars were concluded and that he hopes that Croatian companies will manage to get a piece of that cake, too.

HTZ director Kristjan Staničić underscored that Croatia's exhibition was awarded this year and that this is the 2nd time this year for Croatia to presented its tourism on such an important market.

Staničić explained that so far this year the number of Chinese tourists to Croatia has increased by 24% in arrivals and bed nights year on year, with China being in second place in terms of the number of tourists from distant tourist markets.

According to China's national tourist board, 200 million Chinese residents are expected to travel abroad in 2020 and HTZ expects the number of tourists coming to Europe and Croatia to increase too.

He added that this year 483 Chinese tourist agents completed internet courses on Croatia's culture, nature, gastronomy and adventure tourism.

During the expo Staničić met with one of the most important Chinese partners, Shendi Group and Ctrip for talks on future cooperation.

Ctrip is the largest online tourist agency in China and the second largest in the world and the largest advertiser of hotels and accommodation in China with more than 300 million users in more than 220 countries.

More news about Croatian tourism can be found in the Travel section.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Openness of Chinese Market Seen as Chance to Increase Croatian Exports

ZAGREB, November 6, 2019 - The openness of the Chinese market to imports is an opportunity which Croatia must take better advantage of, and Chinese companies are expected to increase their investment in Croatia, a Croatia-China business forum was told in Shanghai.

The forum, organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), was held on the margins of the 2nd China International Import Expo. It involved 12 Croatian and 30 Chinese companies and was attended, among others by, Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, Economy Minister Darko Horvat, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković and HGK President Luka Burilović, the HGK said in a press release on Wednesday.

Jandroković called on Chinese companies to invest in Croatia and said that Croatia wanted to increase exports to China and balance out trade. He said that B2B talks would further contribute to business cooperation between the two countries, notably to boosting Croatian exports to China and Chinese investment in Croatia and increasing the number of Chinese tourists visiting Croatia.

Horvat said that Croatia was moving up in the global competitiveness rankings and that this was proof that it was becoming easier to do business in Croatia. He said that the Chinese economy was interesting not just because of its size but also because of its focus on investment in research and development.

"That's why they are among the global leaders in innovations, which are the foundation of and key to further growth in all countries," Horvat said, stressing that Croatia had been declared the most desirable European travel destination in China last year. "That is certainly a great recognition for our country. However, our intention and our mission is to do all we can in order for Croatia to be recognised as a desirable investment destination as well," he added.

Burilović said economic relations between Croatia and China were improving and that Croatia should take better advantage of the openness of the Chinese market to imports.

Last year Croatian-Chinese trade exceeded 1 billion dollars, which proves that Croatia can be competitive on such a large market, Burilović said.

Assistant Tourism Minister Frano Matušić highlighted the importance of the Chinese market to the Croatian tourism industry. "The potential is huge. We believe in even better results, and last year they were 20 percent better than the previous year, which was a record year," he said.

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

Friday, 25 October 2019

Cultural Industry Important Innovation Driver

ZAGREB, October 25, 2019 - The cultural industry does not exist merely to entertain the public but is an important economic factor and driver of innovations, Belgium's Ambassador to Croatia Nicolaas Buyck said opening the b.creative conference on the creative industries on Friday in Zagreb.

That just goes to show that we are not always aware that the creative industry exists and that cultural and artistic talent are not just to entertain the public but are also an important economic factor that one can live off, he said.

The diplomat said that in Belgium the cultural industry does not only contribute to the economy but is also a driver of innovation and contributes to developing an engaged society.

He added that children are stimulated to be creative, however, when it comes to their future, their parents want them to become lawyers, doctors or managers and if children express a desire for some creative direction, their parents often are not too enthusiastic about that.

President of the Croatian Cluster of the Creative and Cultural Industry (HKKKKI) Ivana Nikolić Popović said that it was exceptionally important to protect human dignity in "today's simply capitalistic wilderness," and that it is exceptionally important to nurture, monitor, develop and stimulate the creative and cultural industry.

The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) president, Luka Burilović, said that companies and the state can be today divided into those who have realised the importance of creativity and those who rely on mass production and consumerism.

"We want creativity to be the foundation of our economy and to be recognisable in the world as a country of innovation and the creative, cultural industry will certainly have an important role in that," Burilović underscored.

He explained that the creative industry in the European Union comprises as many as 353 industries that created almost 30 percent of all jobs in the EU from 2014 to 2016.

He added that of a total of 216 million people employed, 63 million are employed in the creative industry.

"That industry in Croatia employs more than 124,000 people, mostly highly-educated, qualified people and that is why salaries in those industries are noticeably higher compared to other industries," said Burilović.

More culture news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 21 October 2019

HGK Hosts DigitalEurope Summit

ZAGREB, October 21, 2019 - Croatia's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry generates revenue growth every year, and as an industry of the future it can set in motion serious changes, a National Trade Association (NTA) summit of DigitalEurope, the organisation that represents the digital technology industry, was told in Zagreb on Monday.

The summit, hosted by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), is taking place on Monday and Tuesday and has brought together the chief executives of its member organisations. Zagreb was chosen because Croatia assumes the six-month rotating European Union presidency on January 1 and because the HGK is a member of DigitalEurope.

"The purpose of the meeting is to emphasise the impact of digital transformation on economic development and social prosperity. The Croatian ICT industry is facing a lot of challenges because no other sector in the country attracts so many investments and has such a multiplier effect on all other branches of the economy. As an industry of the future it also has a chance to set in motion serious changes in the country," said the head of the HGK Industry Division, Tajana Kesić Šapić.

She presented the Digital Chamber project, which aims to increase access to services through digitisation of the HGK's business.

The meeting was also presented with data from the InfoTrend company according to which the ICT industry in Croatia in 2018 performed much better than the overall economy.

In 2018 Croatia's ICT industry generated 36.9 billion kuna in total revenue, an increase of 3.1 billion kuna or 9.4 percent compared with 2017. Of this amount, 1.8 billion kuna (+7%) was generated in Croatia and 1.3 billion kuna (+19%) abroad. The exports were mostly driven by micro-businesses, i.e. programmers either in domestic or in foreign ownership.

The Director-General of DigitalEurope, Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, said that meetings like this were an opportunity to discuss important strategies for digitisation that would later be included in European legislation.

She said that many leading corporations still mostly followed debates concerning national legislation and that it was very important for them to be aware of what was happening in Brussels because it was there that policies were made and later incorporated into national legislation.

More news on the IT industry can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

New US Import Tariffs Won't Have Major Impact on Croatia

ZAGREB, October 3, 2019 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said on Thursday new US import tariffs would not significantly impact Croatian exports to the United States or the Croatian economy.

"Based on the information we have, we think the new tariffs the US will impose on products from Croatia won't have a significant direct impact on Croatian exports to the US or a significant direct impact on the Croatian economy," the HGK said in response to a query from Hina.

Although the tariffs will make access to the US market more difficult for some businesses, higher tariffs for Croatia will be imposed on agricultural goods which do not account for major Croatian exports to the US, the HGK said.

According to the national statistical office, Croatian exports to the US in 2018 totalled $403.9 million while imports were $213.8 million.

On Wednesday, the World Trade Organization granted the United States permission to tax as much as $7.5 billion of European exports annually over European subsidies to the plane maker Airbus. The US has announced that it will place a 25% tax on food imports from the European Union, including milk, dairy products, meat, fruit, juices, wine and whiskey.

The US plans to impose the tax on Croatian goods such as milk and dairy products, pork and its products, shellfish, prunes, cherries, peaches, pears, fruit and vegetable juices, except tomato juice.

European food producers have said the tariffs will cause them major damage.

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

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Growing Interest in Vocational Occupations

ZAGREB, July 21, 2019 - Secondary school students in Croatia are showing a growing interest in vocational occupations, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said, citing data from the Ministry of Science and Education.

"According to our calculation, which is based on the latest data from the Ministry of Science and Education, the total number of children enrolled in secondary schools this school year is 39,342, which is a marked increase from last year when 37,993 were enrolled," said the head of the HGK Education Division, Božo Pavičin.

Pavičin said that they were particularly glad that this year 650 more students were enrolled in scarce vocational occupations than last year. He said that this was encouraging and that this trend was expected to continue over the next three to four years.

However, despite these short-term positive indicators, the HGK expressed concern about the fall in the number of school children as a result of overall poor demographic developments.

In the last five years, 44,000 pupils have been lost (down from 509,000 in the school year 2013/2014 to 465,000 in 2018/2019), with three eastern counties - Vukovar-Srijem, Brod-Posavina and Požega-Slavonia - observing the highest rates of decline, of more than 20 percent.

A brief overview of shortage occupations shows that the number of secondary school students enrolled in vocational programs for cooks has increased by 6.4 percent to 1,268, the number of those enrolled in programs for waiters has risen by 11.5 percent to 608, the number of tilers has gone up by 19 percent to 112, the number of bricklayers has risen by 10 percent, while the number of joiners and butchers has increased by 21 and 70 percent respectively.

The number of students enrolled in grammar schools has remained stable at 6,400, while the number of those enrolled in secondary economics schools has risen by 7 percent to about 2,500, the HGK said.

More education news can be found in the lifestyle Section.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Leading Entrepreneurs Want Additional Tax Cuts

ZAGREB, July 12, 2019 - The CEOs of ten leading Croatian companies met with Finance Minister Zdravko Marić at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) on Thursday regarding a fourth round of tax reform, saying that without tax cuts it was not possible to increase wages and competitiveness.

"A decrease in income tax and raising the non-taxable amount on allowances (accommodation, transport and meal allowances for employees) were the primary demands by entrepreneurs," the HGK said in a press release, adding that they also talked about overtime work and reducing the profit tax.

The HGK has for years been articulating the demands and problems of entrepreneurs, and this was a continuation of the dialogue between the state and entrepreneurs, HGK president Luka Burilović said.

"The situation is alarming. There is a chronic shortage of labour force, which in turn requires higher wages. Companies can no longer afford to finance such increases with reduced profits as that seriously impacts their investment and development potential and hence the sustainability of their business. That's why future tax changes need to be aimed at relieving the burden on labour," Burilović said.

Minister Marić explained that the fourth round of the tax reform "is still in the analysis stage." He added that talks were being held with all stakeholders and that "wishes are one thing while reality is another." The aim is to further relieve the economy both administratively and financially, he underlined.

More news about taxes in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 1 July 2019

After 6 Years, Croatia Has Benefits from EU, Labour Shortage Main Problem

ZAGREB, July 1, 2019 - President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Luka Burilović said on Monday that Croatia had benefited from its membership of the European Union, however, the labour shortage was becoming a burning issue and required a radical approach.

Asked what the past six years of EU membership means for the HGK, Burilović said that Croatia had joined the EU in its "golden years" and that six years on the country was economically stronger.

Croatia joined the European Union on July 1, 2013 as the 28th member of the bloc.

"We have seen continued growth in exports, a decreasing deficit and public debt, lower unemployment and increased employment. Exports to the EU alone have increased by 50 percent and naturally EU membership has inevitably impacted positive economic indicators," he said.

Asked why more EU funding wasn't being absorbed and remained relatively moderate, Burilović said that Croatia has partially failed in that regard, particularly in the earlier years, however in the past two to three years that has improved and he is certain that before the end of the current term the maximum amount at Croatia's disposal of 10.7 billion euro will have been absorbed.

If we significantly use European funds, that alone could increase GDP by two to three percent annually, he said adding that according to forecasts, Croatia's GDP in Q2 could be even higher than 3.9 percent in Q1.

Loss of labour force is Croatia's biggest problem

"Before Croatia joined the EU, we spoke of the lack of jobs and that people could not find work and now we are talking about labour shortages. There is hardly any sector of the Croatian economy that is not seeking workers," Burilović said.

Import quotas for workers have become senseless and it is time for something more concrete to be done. The long-term aim and strategy have to be to adjust the education system with the needs of the labour market and ensure dual vocational education for occupations in greatest demand.

Keeping our people to remain and work here has to first of all be related to increasing salaries, he added. "It is not easy for entrepreneurs but they have to take that additional step because without increasing wages we cannot keep our skilled labour," Burilović concluded.

More news about Croatia and the European Union can be found in the Politics section.

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