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.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Croatia to Lose Million Workers by 2051

ZAGREB, June 18, 2019 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) on Tuesday organised a conference called "Can Croatia make it without foreign workers?" which heard that Croatia needs a no-quota model for the import of labour, that 500,000 left the country over the past decade and that the able-bodied population will drop by one million by 2051.

According to projections, the number of able-bodied persons will drop from 2.8 million today to 1.8 million in 30 years or so and today it is clear that demographic changes will restrict GDP growth, said Anđelko Akrap, a professor at the Zagreb School of Economics.

We need decentralisation and a long-term strategy of the country's development focusing on a population policy, he said, adding that countries with insufficient fertility rates for a natural population renewal were not well-organised.

HGK president Luka Burilović said Croatia lost about 500,000 able-bodied persons over the past dozen years because of emigration and population ageing.

"That's why today we have a current chronic labour shortage which should be dealt with at once as it will be the main brake to our development. The new law on foreigners will abolish quotas and allow companies to hire as many workers as they need," he said.

Burilović said Croatia must not allow bureaucratic sluggishness to hinder economic growth as it was already lagging behind the competition.

"This year Croatia's GDP growth will reach the pre-crisis year 2008, while comparable countries went ahead by almost 30%. The most worrying fact is that the number of persons employed, despite solid growth, was still 100,000 lower than in 2008, which is the most important indicator of a country's economic success and the basis for estimating the viability of social security, social progress and prosperity," he said.

The state secretary at the Interior Ministry, Žarko Katić, said the current quota model would be replaced with a no-quota system in order to enable employers to get permits to import workers within five days.

He added that in the first five months of the year, the Interior Ministry issued over 40,000 work permits for citizens of 55 countries.

Ruža Hrga of the Croatian Employment Service said the number of the jobless dropped by 65% since 2013, adding that 140,000 jobs were created over the past five years and that the registered employment rate had gone up 10%.

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

Monday, 17 June 2019

Labour Shortage Is Main Problem of Croatian Economy

ZAGREB, June 17, 2019 - The Croatian economy's main problem at the moment is a labour shortage so quotas for foreigners should be urgently abolished, Chamber of Commerce (HGK) president Luka Burilović said on Monday.

"At nearly four percent, economic growth is finally approaching the rates we desired and expected, and interest rates are at the lowest levels. But the labour shortage is the main obstacle to the continuation of those positive trends. It's the issue of all issues at the moment," he said at an HGK Assembly meeting.

Burilović said the government had listened to the economic sector in the preparation of new regulations and that it was drawing up amendments to the law on foreigners that are expected to abolish quotas and facilitate the hiring of foreigners.

"It's a step in the right direction, but we must... put the draft of the new bill on foreigners to public consultation as soon as possible," he said.

The HGK Assembly adopted a report on the HGK's work in 2018 which shows that revenues totalled 208.1 million kuna, 11.5 million more than in 2017. Expenditures were lower than revenues by 19,800 kuna.

Revenues from EU projects increased by 14.8 million kuna to 33.1 million, and revenues from membership fees by 3.9 million kuna to 151.8 million.

It was announced that HGK will open offices in Vienna, Munich, Milan and Istanbul, and sell its building in Brussels.

More news about Croatian economy can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Over 100 Local Producers Joining "Buy Croatian" Event on Split Riva

May 18, 2019 - "Buy Croatian" returns to Split from May 21 to 22, 2019.

Although we're aware that it is healthier and fresher to shop from our neighbor’s garden than from a factory in far-away China, many of us will often opt for a foreign, imported product thanks to better-known brand names and cheaper prices. In the end, you might be a couple kuna richer, but you'll also impoverish domestic production.

Domestic production is the foundation of the economy of each country. The money spent on domestic products remains in Croatia, thus strengthening the community. Domestic producers equally assist a grandson buying home-made sweets for his grandmother, hotel owners who serve meals made with local ingredients, or someone who chooses Croatian design as part of their own identity. A smart buyer knows that buying local is investing in the future.

Each of us can be a guardian of domestic production. That is why the Croatian Chamber of Commerce has organized the "Buy Croatian" event for 22 years as a way to make citizens aware of the importance of purchasing domestic products.

The "Buy Croatian" action began with a general view that, in the conditions of crisis and recession, it is imperative to preserve the level of domestic consumption and to maintain the economic activity of the country. 

“If spending decreases, the country will enter a negative spiral that leads into stagnation, backwardness and a series of social problems. In this context, these acknowledgments for quality have a special dimension. The global crisis will pass, but our structural problems will not be solved by anyone outside. To be able to solve problems ourselves, we must have a product. It is the product that expresses how cultural and civilized a nation is, because people are not expressed anywhere in the product.

The product, however, is not just for business, though it naturally has a commitment to being innovative and competitive. Competitive products have efficient education, healthcare, and pension funds, because all that goes into calculating the product.

Competitiveness has to come from all sectors of society. The success of a society is measured through its product, and it contains everything good or bad in that society. There is no awareness of us yet. We want to express our sincere respect to those who create a quality product under these conditions. They are the ones who give the optimism that we can, that there are people in Croatia who can create something relevant in the world. That we can create a product that has the character of Croatian quality or is an original Croatian product that can be competitive in any part of the world, assuming our society is competitive.

In the long term, we expect that Croatian products on foreign markets are recognizable by their authenticity and top quality. We desire to recognize Croatia as a quality homeland through its quality products,” reads the description of the HGK action. 

This year, “Buy Croatian” continues in Split, Varaždin, Karlovac, and Zagreb, while a special project "Buy Croatian-Croatian products for Croatian tourism" will be held at the end of the year in Istria. 

Visit the Split Riva on May 21 and 22 to check out over 100 local producers and their products. The already cheerful atmosphere will include Croatian actors Doris Pinčić Rogoznica and Darko Janeša and a vibrant entertainment program.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Monday, 13 May 2019

Mediterranean Book Festival in Split Welcomed 40% More Visitors than 2018

The Mediterranean Festival of Books in Split, the largest Dalmatian festival of books, was completed on Sunday evening. This year’s edition saw a forty percent increase in visitors at Split's Gripe arena compared to the previous year, and its reanimation and organization of engaging panel discussions, which brought famous names of the Croatian literary scene, proved to be more than successful, reports Dalmacija Danas on May 13, 2019.

“Special significance was given to the creation of future readers thanks to a children's program designed to foster imagination and the love for reading. It has been shown that Split has the potential to make this cultural step sustainable,” said organizer Mišo Nejašmić.

“We believe that the forthcoming festival releases will be at an even higher level. This year's program was exceptionally attended and met all expectations. The last day of the fair, many visitors were sad that the festival must end.

This edition of the festival was really colorful. Along with the quality literature, thanks to sponsors, Black'n'Easy coffee, radlers and beers from Laško brewery, CedeviteGo and Kala water were distributed all day. Meeting acquaintances, new friends and socializing with books is what adds value to the Mediterranean Festival of Books.”

The organizers of the festival were particularly pleased with the number of visitors, who came via catamarans from the islands and on buses from Makarska, Šibenik, Sinj, Herzegovina,and Montenegro. And no one left the festival empty-handed - thanks to a varied offer, visitors could enjoy everything from Alan Ford hardcovers for 10 kuna to “Anima Delmatice” which dropped from 750 to 199 kuna. 

“Even panel discussions with topics that were not for the wider audience, such as those on architecture or libraries, were exceptionally attended - and the organizers even made sure to include gastronomy and stand up comedy in the whole story. When the mayor of Split arrives in civilian clothes the day after the opening, then you know that you have done a good thing,” said Slavko Kozina, the head of the Association of Publishers and Bookstores of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to Andro Krstulović Opara, the festival also welcomed many other famous names, including Dalija Orešković, Ivano Balić, Tisja Kljaković Braić, Viktor Ivančić, representatives of local and county authorities, Ivan Pažanin, Matko Marušić, Ivica Ivanišević, Jurica Pavičić, Marko Tomaš, Tanja Mravak, Emir Imamović Pirke, Damir Karakaš, Pavao Pavličić, Nebojša Lujanović, and Julijana Matanović. 

The Mediterranean Festival of Books, organized by the Association of Publishers and Bookstores of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, Split-Dalmatia County and the City of Split, was held from the 8th to the 12th of May, 2019.

A record 100 exhibitors offered discounted books of up to seventy percent off, with around 10,000 titles to choose from.

The entrance to the festival was free, and visitors could see the latest publications covering a space of more than two thousand square meters in the large hall of ŠC (Arena) Gripe. 

Fifty program activities were prepared, with as many as 35 promotions of the latest works of some award-winning and acclaimed authors taking place. 

The panels consisted of prominent lecturers who spoke about important local topics, as well as a multitude of workshops for the youngest among the festival's visitors on offer. 

The Mediterranean Book Festival was organized with the support of numerous partners such as the Split Tourist Board, Split University, Split Student Centre, the Split Sports Facilities public institution, Hotel Zagreb - Split, Cukarin Gripe, Slobodna Dalmacija, Europlakat, Mandis, CineStar, Barcaffè, CedevitaGo, and Kala.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

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