Sunday, 14 April 2019

Rijeka-Karlovac Railway Line Heading for Chinese or EU Hands?

As the Chinese show greater interest in various Croatian strategic projects, the EU and the EC become more and more uneasy at the thought of such a heavy Chinese business presence in Croatia. As the EC changes its attitude towards some Croatian projects to which it reacted negatively in the past, has the Chinese influence rendered this change of heart senseless?

As Novac/Kresimir Zabec writes on the 13th of April, 2019, Croatia wants to finance the construction of the railway line from Karlovac to Rijeka, covering a length of 170 kilometres with EU funds, because that's more favourable to Croatia than doing it through a concession, stated Croatian Minister of Transport Oleg Butković at the construction site of Pelješac bridge recently.

Ironically much like Chinese whispers, it began to circulate in the media that everything had already been agreed with the Chinese, and that China's CRBC which is already building Pelješac bridge would construct the railway line via a concession model. Economy Minister Darko Horvat has thus announced giving the Chinese company a fifty year concession. However, Butković has very clearly stated that there has been absolutely no direct agreement with the Chinese and that everything will go through a tender, as usual.

''If we decide on a concession tender, then Chinese companies can also apply. If the line is built using EU funds, Chinese companies will be able to bid to be the contractors for the project,'' said Butković.

EU funding for the project is much more favourable for Croatia because it doesn't affect the growth of public debt. Should the case result in giving a concession to a Chinese company, they would build and finance it, but with government guarantees amounting to 1.7 billion euros, which is something the state can ill afford. According to current projections, the entire line should be completed by 2030.

Of the 270 kilometre of railway line from Botovo on the Croatian-Hungarian border, to Rijeka on the shores of the Northern Adriatic, the section from Karlovac to Rijeka is currently not covered at all by any form of EU co-financing.

A few years ago, the European Commission told the Croatian Government quite clearly that they would not finance that part of the line from Karlovac to Rijeka because it was too expensive and it just doesn't pay off. After that, the Croatian Government turned to the Chinese who were constantly showing interest in constructing that section. Now that the negotiations between China and Croatia have entered a much deeper and more serious phase, signals from Brussels, more specifically the European Commission, have been arriving which indicate that they are, despite all, still interested in the project.

Although that railway line is not officially part of the trans-European transport network, senior officials of the European Commission's Directorate General for Transport have openly told reporters that the Commission is ready to co-finance this project, and that it is a very important part of the European budget planning in the period commencing in 2021. Quite a turnaround, no?

In addition, this railway line is part of the line from Rijeka to the Hungarian border, which the European Commission has invested around 400 million euros into the modernisation and construction of, and that obviously doesn't quite sit well with the idea of the entrance of the Chinese into this project. According to statements, the ultimate goal of the overall project is to build a new bridge to the island of Krk and to build a new port on the island for container transport, which is an idea that the Chinese are also very interested in.

What stage are the works in?

Rijeka - Zagreb

The railway line from Rijeka tp Zagreb to the Hungarian border is part of the international Mediterranean Corridor connecting southern Europe with Central and Eastern Europe. The modernisation of this line would be of great importance to the Port of Rijeka. The modernisation and the construction of these lines are all in different stages of execution.

Botovo - Koprivnica - Križevci

In 2016, the European Commission approved 240 million euro for Croatia to build this section, but the contractor for the job hasn't yet been selected. A tender is in progress, but it has been stopped once again due to an appeal lodged by an Italian company.

Križevci - Dugo Selo

This is the only section of the track where works are ongoing. The European Union has invested about 180 million euros in this project, but works began a year and a half late because of contractor issues.

Hrvatski Leskovac - Karlovac

The design of this part of the line was co-financed by the EU in the amount of about 6 million euros. It is expected that tenders will be announced to modernise the existing works and build another track. The value of the works is estimated at 315 million euros and is planned to be funded through EU funds.

Karlovac - Oštarije

An entirely new two-track railway would be constructed on this part of the track, and the value of the works would be estimated at about 400 million euros. Project documentation has been produced, which has been paid for by the EU in the amount of 9 million euros.

Oštarije - Škrljevo

This, which is considered to be the most challenging part of the line, hasn't yet been fully defined, and technical documentation is being prepared by the EU, for which it has paid nearly 6 million euros. The value of the works on this section is estimated at as much as one billion euros.

Škrljevo - Rijeka - Jurdani

Project documentation was produced by the EU at a cost of 8.5 million euros. The value of the works is estimated at 270 million euros in total.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and politics pages for more on Chinese-Croatian relations, doing business in Croatia, the investment climate in Croatia, Croatian companies, products and services, government policies and much more.

Click here for the original article by Kresimir Zabec for Novac/Jutarnji

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Selection of Contractor for Pelješac Bridge Access Roads Annulled

ZAGREB, April 13, 2019 - The State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures (Dkom) decided on Friday to annul the state-owned Hrvatske Ceste (HC) road operator's decision to award the Greek company J&P Avax a contract to build the Pelješac Bridge access roads, ordering HC to pay 100,000 kuna within eight days to a group of bidders led by Austria's Strabag to cover their appeals procedure costs.

HC invited bids for the construction of said access road to the Pelješac Bridge on 9 March 2018, and decided on February 28 this year to award the contract to J&P Avax. Seven bids had been submitted, of which four were shortlisted, and Dkom found the one by J&P Avax to be the most favourable in financial terms.

Construction was expected to last 33 months. J&P Avax's offer was 464.9 million kuna before VAT.

One of the bidders was the Bosnian company Integral Inzenjering, which asked for 321.2 million kuna but was turned down after HC said the bid price was unusually low.

GP Krk and Euro-Asfalt offered 444.3 million kuna, Greece's Aktor asked for 464.6 million kuna, the Croatian branch of France's Colas asked for 521.9 million kuna, Strabag asked for 478.3 million kuna, while the China Road and Bridge Corporation, which is building the Pelješac Bridge, asked for 647.8 million kuna for said road section.

The section on which access roads to the bridge will be built is 12 kilometres long. HC's deadline for the completion of all works is 31 January 2022, the same deadline for the completion of works on all four stages of the complex project that will link southern Dalmatia with the rest of the country by road.

In mid-March, Strabag and Aktor lodged appeals against the choice of contractor for the Duboka-Šparagovići section. Earlier this month, Dkom dismissed Aktor's appeal because the company paid too little to instigate the appeals procedure.

As for Strabag's appeal, in which the company contested the legality of the bid evaluation process and the validity of J&V Avax's bid, Dkom found that it was well-grounded and granted Strabag's request that it be paid 100,000 kuna to cover the appeals procedure costs.

More news about Pelješac Bridge construction can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Why Do The Chinese Really Want To Invest So Heavily In Croatia?

From the construction of Pelješac bridge to planning to build a car factory in southern Dalmatia's Neretva valley, to displaying interest in potentially rescuing the enfeebled Croatian shipyards Uljanik and 3 Maj, the Chinese are no strangers to showcasing their investment interest in Croatia.

Croatia has earned itself a less than positive reputation among foreign investors, alright, let's not be so politially correct and say that Croatia is a burning hot mess in the eyes of foreign investors. ABC has come to mean ''Anything but Croatia'' in foreign investment circles, and many are simply bypassing the country entirely. That's not to talk about local, Croatian investors who have been dragged through the proverbial mud twice or even thrice the amount. Given the somewhat depressing statistics, just why are the Chinese suddenly so deeply interested in investing such huge sums of money in Croatia?

While many have welcomed the money-laden offers of the Chinese, others have remained cautiously optimistic, and some have made no qualms about being vocal in their dismay at the thought of the Chinese coming and ''taking over'' by investing heavily in Croatia's many pressing strategic projects. The motives that push the Chinese towards closer and closer ties with Croatia tend to end up as mere hearsay and solacious gossip in the comment sections of various portals, but what do the experts believe?

As Novac/Marina Karlovic Sabolic writes on the 12th of April, 2019, the Chinese are truly incredible people. They come to Croatia every ten years, and the Croats immediately forget about all of the Chinese "bofl" goods they've spent their lives purchasing and throwing away. They suddenly become blissfully unaware of the dreaded "Made in China" mark that everyone gets so sick to the back teeth of seeing plastered all over basically anything. Instead, their innermost desires display blurry images of an ailing Uljanik, of Tito's rotting memorial complex in Kumrovec, of Rijeka's port, and even football stadiums, Slobodna Dalmacija writes.

Does anybody bother to ask in this country what the Chinese will ask for in return, however? Entering into the dubious and somewhat unpredictable world of Croatian shipbuilding, constructing a much needed railway line and maybe rescuing a port in Rijeka all before dinner time will come with a price tag, and likely a hefty one. The situation when that bill inevitably arrives is one that tends to be what fills the militant online naysayers with fuel, and dread.

''Don't be afraid, China will not demand that the Communist Party be established in Croatia or that it rules the country,'' prof. Dr. Vlatko Cvrtila, one of the most prominent Croatian geopolitical experts, stated. He also added that in its long-term strategic plans, China really doesn't have any sort of idea of ​​introducing a single-party system in the countries in which it invests its money. Their interest, claims Cvrtila, is of quite another nature.

''The Chinese don't invest because they have a lot of money and they want to go around giving it out. There's no philanthropy in international relations. All they invest in is related to their global strategy of creating influence and linking the Eurasian world in a continental way. By investing in infrastructure, ports, roads and railways, they enable their goods to reach their customers more easily,'' says Cvrtila.

Such an approach, he points out, is legitimate for a country that has boasts such great economic potential at this time like China does. Their mega-project, the Silk Road, which would increase the possibility of land transport, aims to reduce overall dependence on maritime traffic restrictions.

Cvrtila notes the US administration's estimates and warnings that China will one day turn its massive economic influence into strategic power as well. This is something that United States, which is already competing with Russia, doesn't think well of. However, China is now quietly placing all of its cards on the economic side of the story.

''In order to maintain its economic growth, China must have a market. In infrastructure projects, they actually make the market more widespread. China can't stop, while it's riding the bike it needs to rotate the pedals. The Chinese are present everywhere where they can create prerequisites for the distribution of goods. In Greece, they're in the ports, in Montenegro, they're dealing with the construction of a motorway, in Croatia, they're building Pelješac bridge. This is a win win situation for everyone, because in the long run, any investment in infrastructure can improve a country's economic performance,'' says Cvrtila.

China has, therefore, created the 1 + 16 formet in Southeastern Europe where its usually large-scale investments help countries that otherwise don't have a lot of foreign investment.

''Europe has survived a difficult financial crisis and there is no "free finance" which would enter JI Europe. China's investment is actually beneficial for Europe, because along with China, the European Union has developed non-competitive but increasingly strategic economic relations, realising in time that they [the Chinese] can contribute to its economic growth,'' emphasises Cvrtila.

Croatia, according to him, is fortunate because it is strategically quite well positioned: it is closer to the heart of Europe than it is to Northern Europe. And, de facto, it is located at the intersection of the roads between the East and the West.

Unfortunately, Croatia hasn't used its geostrategic advantage yet. LNG terminal stands, as do the new train lines. It's also important to revitalise the Port of Rijeka so that Croatia can profit in the fast transport of goods to European consumers. We don't have our own investments, Europe has no capacity anymore, which is why the Croatian Government is seriously considering deals from China,'' concludes Cvrtila.

Therefore, there's no need for Croatia to be afraid of the Chinese, but rather actually use them for its own interests.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more information on Chinese-Croatian relations, Chinese business plans in Croatia, and much, much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Marina Karlovic Sabolic for Novac/Jutarnji

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Plenković, Li Visit Pelješac Bridge Construction Site

ZAGREB, April 11, 2019 - The Pelješac Bridge will remain a permanent monument to the first few years of Croatia's EU membership, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday at the bridge construction site in Brijesta, which he visited with Chinese PM Li Keqiang.

They symbolically lowered into the sea the last and biggest pylon from the first construction phase, the biggest of the 150 that will constitute the centre of the bridge, after which they unveiled a plaque to commemorate the completion of the first construction phase.

The bridge is being built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and the EU is covering 85% of the costs. Together with access roads, the bridge is worth 520 million euro. It will be 2.5 kilometres long and 55 metres tall and have four lanes.

"The rain outside is falling harder and harder," Li said commenting on the weather. "This sends a message to our company's builders that the bridge must withstand all weather conditions. We in China say that after the rain comes a rainbow, so the bridge, once it's built, will be a rainbow on Earth, and the Chinese builders can celebrate such a miracle with their Croatian friends."

Li arrived in Croatia after an EU-China summit in Brussels on Tuesday. He said the Pelješac Bridge project was important for his country's cooperation with the EU.

Plenković said the bridge was especially important for Croatia "because its realisation will represent a permanent monument, in the most visible sense, to the first few years of Croatia's European Union membership.

He said that construction-wise the bridge was one of the most important bridges built in Europe over the past decade. "It's worth noting that the total weight of the bridge is 80,000 tonnes of steel (which) means it will weigh as ten Eiffel Towers."

"This shows what kind of endeavour this is and what capabilities the CRBC has when it's planting these pylons which, at 130 metres, are practically among the longest in the history of bridge-building in the world," Plenković said, reiterating that this project gave China-Croatia cooperation an entirely new dimension.

After visiting the construction site, the two prime ministers and their delegations returned to Dubrovnik for possible bilateral meetings with some of the 15 prime ministers of central and east European countries participating in the 16+1 initiative, which will hold a summit in Dubrovnik on Friday.

Li arrived in Zagreb on Wednesday. The two countries signed six agreements on cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture, digital technologies, tourism, science and the economy. Four more will be signed in Dubrovnik today and tomorrow.

After the Pelješac bridge, the next big Croatian-Chinese project could be the modernisation of the Zagreb-Rijeka railroad and Croatian seaports, it was said at yesterday's meetings in Zagreb.

Li arrived in Zagreb with a 250-strong delegation. In Dubrovnik, he will be joined by hundreds more Chinese business people as the 16+1 summit is taking place at political and economic levels.

More news about Pelješac Bridge can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Chinese Reveal Interest in Croatia's Enfeebled Uljanik and 3 Maj Shipyards

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 10th of April, 2019, Chinese interest continues to grow as the Republic of Croatia and China opened a new, ambitious chapter of economic and trade relations on Wednesday, deepening their relationship even more after talks between the two prime ministers who both considered the talks to be a "fruitful turnaround".

Relations between Zagreb and Beijing initially reached a higher level after the Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation was chosen as the much anticipated Pelješac bridge builder.

The two countries readily signed six agreements, which cover the segments of rail, agriculture, digital technology and tourism. Four more will be signed on Thursday and Friday down in Dubrovnik at the 16 + 1 summit.

"We have signed a memorandum on a much more serious, transparent and easier cooperation between companies, on the transfer of capital from China to Croatia, as well as a two-way transfer, and the possibility of capital from Croatia being invested in China. This opens up the possibility of trust and a much stronger and more serious transfer, investing and manufacturing, and we've been able to talk about other large-scale structuring projects, especially given the fact that a Chinese company is building Pelješac bridge,'' said Croatian Economy Minister Darko Horvat for RTL.

He also noted that at this point in time, Croatia has a bilateral economic exchange with China which is somewhere close to the level of a billion euros, in a much larger deficit on the Croatian side.

Horvat also confirmed that Chinese companies are offering to be the ones to construct the Rijeka-Zagreb line.

"This project has to happen, the Chinese side has shown its interest. Whether that is going to come in the shape of a long-term concession agreement or in another model... Minister [Oleg] Butković is engaged in very intensive negotiations [on that matter] at the moment,'' stated Horvat.

In conversation with RTL, Horvat also revealed that they now have a clear signal that there is interest from the Chinese side to invest in Croatia's burdened shipyards, Uljanik and 3 Maj, in Pula and Rijeka.

"The real conversations are just starting, and I'm sure we will have some concrete figures tomorrow,'' he added briefly.

When asked whether or not Chinese could end up becoming the strategic partner needed to finally save Uljanik, the economy minister simply said that nobody was trying to hide the fact that the Chinese had been called upon.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and politics pages for more information on the blossoming China-Croatia relations, why some remain suspicious, why the European Commission has raised its eyebrows at the fact that a Chinese company is building a bridge funded primarily with EU money, and much more.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

From Dalmatia to Karlovac and Rijeka, Chinese Eye Up Croatia

As Gordana Grgas/Novac writes on the 8th of April, 2019, if there was a European tender held solely to attract Chinese investment, the champion would certainly be Great Britain, followed by Germany, and then immediately by Italy and France. Croatia might not be anywhere near the top of China's European ''wish list'', but despite that, the Chinese interest just keeps on coming...

The countries which make up Central and Eastern Europe are low on the aforementioned European scale, even though with China, at least since the year 2012, they have enjoyed a special relationship through the China + 16 initiative, which, as a parallel diplomatic format, tends to irritate the larger, more powerful members of the European Union, as well as the European Commission itself. One of lowest on the list is Hungary with its Eurosceptic government led by Viktor Orban, and Croatia is at the very bottom, but the desire is to alter that.

This week, there is an official visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqianga to Croatia, and the eighth summit of sixteen countries of Central and Eastern Europe with China down in Dalmatia's southernmost city of Dubrovnik, and it might be the easiest thing to look at it all as part of a political show that could act as bait for investment. Whether or not this investment will really happen and what shape that might take, whether it will be done mainly through private projects, for example in tourism, or through major state projects in the rail and port sector, is not yet clear at all.

Croatia will sign nine general memoranda with China in the areas of trade, investment, agriculture, transport, science, technology and innovation, education, sport and tourism, and the most convenient customs administration protocol that will enable the export of Croatian dairy products, which are greatly loved in China. Croatia also intends to join the Asian development investment and infrastructure bank headquartered in Beijing, how much that will cost Croatia however, is not yet known.

How large European countries cooperate with China was demonstrated just ten days ago by the Italians and the French. For the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Rome signed 20 agreements (and joined One Band, a one way system that connects China with the rest of Asia, Europe and Africa, and expands its trade and influence). In Paris, 15 such agreements were signed, where either contracted or announced transactions amounting to billions of euros were dealt with, covering a wide range of areas - from exports of Sicilian red oranges and French frozen chicken to the opening of Italian ports for Chinese investors, sales of 300 Airbus aircraft, energy projects, shipbuilding, etc.

After the construction of Croatia's much anticipated Pelješac bridge, which is funded primarily by European Union money, Croatia hopes for more Chinese investments in national transport projects. This regards the port of Rijeka and the entire Rijeka traffic route, including the line from Rijeka to Karlovac, as well as projects such as airports.

According to data which takes the whole of Europe into account, during the period from 2000 to 2018, almost 47 billion euros of direct investment from China was invested in Britain, Germany saw 22 billion euros, Italy saw 15.3 billion euros, and France saw 14.3 billion euros. Hungary saw a significantly smaller figure of 2.4 billion euros from the Chinese, Poland saw even less with 1.4 billion euros, Romania saw 900 million euros, and Croatia saw just 300 million euros. A stark contrast to the United Kingdom, which is by far one of Europe's most powerful nations.

In the region, the intensity is getting stronger, and in neighbouring Serbia, Chinese loans have come in handy when building transport infrastructure and energy projects and, but that medal, like any other, has two sides, and the takeover of companies hasn't always been met with welcome arms by the Serbs.

The aforementioned data report shows that the culmination of Chinese investment in the EU was reached back in 2016, largely through the take over of companies, and over the last two years, it has fallen, which is attributed to more stringent rules implemented by some EU member states, as well as increased capital controls conducted by Beijing.

For Zagreb, it was a bit uncomfortable to get closer to Communist China in the above mentioned period, as the common policy of overseeing and limiting the Chinese penetration of the ''Old Continent'', especially in strategic and technologically sensitive areas, was being undermined. That chapter however, appears to be well and truly over in Croatia's eyes.

While large investments and projects are anxiously anticipated here in Croatia (and the Chinese interest in Rijeka and the Rijeka-Karlovac line is at least nine years old), data on trade relations show that there is a deficit. State Secretary Nataša Mikuš Žigman notes that there has been a noticeable increase in the volume of trade between Croatia and China, but imports are growing more than exports are. Last year, exports of goods amounted to 133.4 million euros, an increase of 19 percent when compared to 2017, while imports amounted to 803 million euros, an increase of 15.6 percent.

Croatian companies might be able to export more to China in the future, and the business forum being held in Dubrovnik is an excellent chance to showcase some innovative Croatian export ideas, but for now, the main export products continue to be raw or semi-finished products such as stone, leather, untreated wood and polymers, while when it comes to imports, we can see the reign of traditional Chinese consumer goods, white electronics and telecommunications equipment, as well as a constantly increasing number of Chinese tourists visiting Croatia, too.

As the Chinese continue to ramp up their business in Croatia, from Pelješac bridge to Rijeka's port, more announcements continue to appear, and just recently we reported on the Chinese plan to open up a car factory tucked away among the citrus trees of southern Dalmatia's fertile Neretva valley, more precisely in the Nova sela business zone near Kula Norinska in Dubrovnik-Neretva County. While many remain concerned about Chinese influence in Croatia, many others are much more occupied and lured by the promise of an economic boost and employment opportunities.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more information on China-Croatia relations and much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Gordana Grgas for Novac/Jutarnji

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Appeal over Pelješac Bridge Access Roads Construction Rejected

ZAGREB, April 3, 2019) - The State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures has rejected a complaint filed by the Aktor company against the state-owned Hrvatske Ceste (HC) road operator's decision to award the Greek company J&P Avax a contract to build access roads to the Pelješac Bridge, citing as the reason for its decision the fact that Aktor paid an insufficient fee to launch the complaint procedure.

The job to build access roads was awarded to J&P Avax, after which complaints were submitted by Austria's Strabag company and Greece's Aktor.

J&P Avax offered to build 12 kilometres of access roads to the Pelješac Bridge at a price of 464.9 million kuna before Value Added Tax.

Aktor's appeal, the Commission said, contained proof of a fee paid to launch the complaint procedure in the amount of 13,490 euro or 99,778.65 kuna, however, in cases of procurement that exceeds 60 million kuna, the complainant is expected to pay a fee of 100,000 kuna to have the procedure launched.

A total of seven bids had been submitted for the construction of access roads to the Pelješac Bridge.

Of those seven bids, four were shortlisted, and the Commission found the offer made by J&P Avax to be the most favourable in financial terms.

The selected bidder is expected to wrap up construction work by 31 January 2022.

The Commission has still not decided on the complaint filed by Strabag.

More news about Pelješac Bridge can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Croatia and China: New Agreements and Chances for Croatian Companies

Croatian companies have a chance for further growth and more exporting should Croatia decide to deepen its business ties and cooperation with China, the country which is currently undertaking the mammoth task of constructing Pelješac bridge.

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 31st of March, 2019, at the 8th Summit of heads of government of central and eastern European countries and China, which will be held from the 9th to the 12th of April in Dubrovnik, the "Dubrovnik Guidelines" document is expected to be adopted, which will lay out the activities in this format in the forthcoming phase.

The summit on the EU and China set to take place in the Belgian capital of Brussels on the 9th of April is expected with interest, and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is coming to Croatia. There are bilateral talks between Keqiang and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on the agenda, as well as the signing of several already concluded bilateral agreements in Zagreb. In line with the things that are set to be dealt with and concluded at the summit, Croatia and China could strengthen their blossoming cooperation with as many as ten brand new agreements. Other major Croatian expectations for the strengthening of overall relations with China are also awaited with gritted teeth, with the greatest interest being expressed in the areas of infrastructure, tourism and SMEs.

After the construction of Pelješac bridge, which is being built by China's CRBC, will yet more new infrastructural advances, such as the modernisation of Croatia's railway system, soon come to pass? The plans are also for the Chinese and Croatian prime ministers to visit this huge construction site down in southern Dalmatia. The Chinese delegation will consist of around 250 members, and that isn't including the 300 business community representatives coming to the 9th business forum ''16 plus 1''.

A total of more than 700 entrepreneurs have been registered, and many opportunities are on offer to Croatian companies when looking at entering the giant Chinese market, meaning that the initiative is on them. B2B meetings can be arranged with the help of an application created by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), and as Croatia's SME coordinator, it will officially launch the 16 + 1 coordination mechanism for small and medium-sized enterprises. The major promise for Croatian companies which operate within a multitude of different sectors lies in exports when it comes to deeper cooperation in doing business with China.

Croatia's visibility for the Chinese is continually growing, by about fifteen percent annually, while the number of tourists from China has increased by an enormous 120 percent over the past two years alone. In 2019, a record 300,000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit Croatia, which is the fastest growing market in the whole of the Republic of Croatia.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Suzana Varosanec for Poslovni Dnevnik

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Peljesac Bridge Construction Progressing Well: Photo from Today

March 28, 2019 - The project to connect the two parts of Croatia is on track - the latest from the Peljesac Bridge. 

It is the project that many thought would never happen. After more than a decade of political promises and announcements, many Croatians doubted that the strategically important Peljesac Bridge project would ever come to fruition. 

Strategically important because without it, Croatia is a country of two parts, physically separated by the Neum Corridor, also known as the Bosnian Riviera - a 23 km coastal strip which physically separates Dubrovnik and southern Dalmatia from the rest of the country. The bridge connecting the mainland to the Peljesac Peninsula will fix that problem, finally connecting the modern Croatian state for the first time. 

And after years of delay, indecision and political wrangling, the Chinese consortium which won the tender to build the bridge is proceeding well. Current progress is ahead of schedule, according to sources I spoke to on the project, with completion still set for July 31, 2021, which will be a game-changer for tourism in the region. 

peljesac bridge update

The lead photo was taken today and shows 12 new vessels coming to construction site with the Zhen Hua 34 submersible ship on the right.

The steel piles for the bridge's foundations are coming from China, with 5 of the 6 ships bringing them already in Croatia, the last one due in Ploce on April 15. 

There will be a total of 146 permanent piles for the foundations, with some up to 130m, among the longest in the world for this type of pile-driving technology. 

There is still a LONG way to go with the project, but for those who are desperately waiting for a unified Croatia, the project seems to be proceeding well and the dream looks like it will become a reality in just over two years. 

You can see more photos here.

We will try and bring you regular updates on progress. You can follow the latest news on the TCN dedicated section on the Peljesac Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Deadline Extensions, Appeals and Problems for Pelješac Bridge Access Roads

The Pelješac Bridge saga continues, and deadlines for various parts of the job, be it on the bridge itself or on its required access roads, rather unsurprisingly see more and more extensions...

As Josip Bohutinski/VL/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of March, 2019, the State Commission for the control of public procurement procedures (DKOM) has dismissed an appeal lodged by Varaždin's Colas to modify the tender documentation for the construction of Ston's bypass of Sparagovići - Papratno and Papratno - Doli.

As Večernji list reports, Colas actually only lodged an appeal one day before the expiry of the bidding deadline on February the 14th, 2019. DKOM assessed this appeal, deemed it to be unfair and subsequently rejected it. The tender for the construction of the Ston bypass road was announced on December the 3rd, 2018, with the deadline for the submission of bids for the job set for the 21st of January this year.

Due to the requirements of potential contractors requesting explanations of the tender documentation, the bidding deadline has been extended several times. The estimated value of the works for the construction of the Ston bypass road is 449.1 million kuna, and according to the tender documentation, the chosen contractor will have a deadline for completing the works, which is currently 30 months from the date of introduction to the job.

While Croatian roads (Hrvatske ceste) can be satisfied with DKOM's decision on the (very late in the day) Colas appeal for this part of Pelješac Bridge's access road, when it comes to the second part of the Pelješac Bridge access road, the Duboka-Sparagovići section, the commission's decision will have to be waited on once again. Namely, the decision for this access sectiont to be built by the Greek company J&P Avax has received an appeal from Aktor SA, another Greek company that participated in the tender, as well as Austria's Strabag. J&P Avax offered 464.9 million kuna without VAT to build the Duboka - Sparagovići road section. The estimated value of these works currently stands at 482 million kuna. Offers for these works were officially opened in June last year.

In addition to J&P Avax, the job of constructing twelve kilometres' worth of this section was desired by six other companies and consortia. In the selection decision, it was stated that J&P Avax's bid was, according to the selection criterion, rated the most economically advantageous. The Aktor SA offered 464.6 million kuna, and Austria's Strabag offered 478.3 million kuna. The lowest bid was offered by Integral engineering from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina - 321.2 million kuna, but that was rejected for its unusually low price tag. Colas, the company to lodge an appeal, also had its offer of 52.5 million kuna rejected, and the China Road and Bridge Corporation were also rebuffed with their offer of 647.8 million kuna, because these offers exceed the estimated value of the works, and the Chinese didn't extend the validity of their offer. Offers were also submitted by the GP Krk association and Euro-asfalt from Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a 444.3 million kuna price tag.

The scheduled deadline for construction of the Duboka - Sparagovići road section currently stands at 33 months from the date of the contractor's introduction to the job. Given the fact that in such proceedings, DKOM requires two months to decide on an appeal, the beginning of construction of this section can likely be expected to begin sometime during the middle of this year and not before.

The bid for equipping and supplying the Duboka - Sparagovići section came to an end in February with three offers. The estimated value of these works stands at 38.2 million kuna, and all three bids received are well above this amount. Valard offered 52.9 million kuna, Dalekovod offered 57.3 million kuna, and Elektrocentar Petek offered a handsome 59.5 million kuna. Croatian roads have stated however that they will cancel this bid and announce a new one in which everything needed for the Duboka - Sparagovići section and the Ston bypass will be unified.

Croatian roads have also pointed out that the deadline for completing the entire Pelješac bridge project, meaning the bridge's actual construction and the construction of its access roads, is now January the 31st, 2022.

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Click here for the original article by Josip Bohutinski/VL on Poslovni Dnevnik

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