New focus on Croatian-German economic relations
During the recent visit of Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković to Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced an immediate formation of the “task force”, a group that is to meet in about two weeks to discuss opportunities related to the enhancement of economy ties between Germany and Croatia. The announcement has drawn great attention of Croatian public, reports poslovni.hr on March 3, 2016.
Both sides are, however, pointing out that this is not actually anything new. These working groups are a usual communication channel and they meet once a year on average so that two countries can discuss their bilateral economic relations. In a statement to Croatian Radio, Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovač emphasized that the announcement has been a bit over-exaggerated as this is simply a operational body made of high-level officials from relevant ministries which, among its other duties, monitors implementation of German investment projects in Croatia.
While adding that he is to be credited for the establishment of the task force in 2010, Kovač said that far more important is the revival of the Croatian-German Economic Forum, planned for the second part of 2016. Besides government representatives, these gatherings have in the past attracted businessmen from both countries. The practice was stopped under Ivan Vrdoljak, former Economy Minister. The last forum was held in Zagreb before Croatia’s EU entry in 2013.
Orešković’s government is expected to show determination in introducing a more stable business environment in Croatia, something German investors have been asking for in the past years. With 2,56 billion euros, Germany is the third biggest investor in Croatia, and the first country on the list of Croatia’s top trade partners. However, a potential for greater cooperation does exist. Kovač emphasized Slovenia’s example. The neighbouring country, with half the number of residents compared to Croatia, has three times more developed economic relationship with Germany.
In his statement to Deutsche Welle, PM Orešković singled out three sectors with greater potential for German investments – energy, infrastructure and IT. It was not clear which specific projects he had in mind. In recent years, German investors have been mostly investing in smaller projects in the area of trade, tourism and industry.
Damir Novinić, from Croatia’s Agency for Investments and Competitiveness, affirms that Croatia counts on Germany when it comes to investments. “Germany is the main target-destination for 2016. We have already agreed with them to present investment possibilities in Croatia at three locations in Germany”, he said.