Cooperation Agreement Between Ports of Rijeka and Haifa Signed

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, July 30, 2019 – On Tuesday, the third day of her state visit to Israel, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović attended in Haifa the naming ceremony of a catamaran built in Croatia and the signing of the International Sister Seaports Agreement between the Port of Rijeka and the Port of Haifa.

The catamaran is seven years old and was built in a private shipyard on Korčula island.

The agreement between the two seaports was signed by the temporary CEO of the Port of Rijeka, Duško Grabovac, and Haifa Port CEO Mandi Zatzman.

I am convinced that this agreement, which is a reflection of the friendship between two countries and the resoluteness to deepen economic relations, will contribute to strengthening our economic ties, the president said in her address.

The Rijeka port can become the Mediterranean gateway for Israeli goods and commodities to enter Central Europe, the Croatian side believes, and Grabar-Kitarović underscored that if it were to expand its terminals, Rijeka could truly become the entrance to the European Union, being the closest point from the Middle and the Far East.

With the shortest transit time, transport through the Port of Rijeka saves time and energy, she underscored. “Therefore, I hope that the Port of Rijeka will become a point of entry for Israeli products into the European Union,” the president remarked.

Trade between Croatia and Israel is one of my priorities, she underscored.

She congratulated all those who were involved in the catamaran project and recalled the words of George William Curtis, “It is not the ship so much as the skilful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”

I wish you a favourable wind and a calm sea, she added.

In her address, Grabar-Kitarović underscored the historical ties between the two cities on the coast, when Rijeka rescued Jews who were fleeing from the Holocaust and sailing toward their promised land.

Israel’s hosts expressed their satisfaction with the signed agreement and assessed that this was an exciting moment in cooperation between the two countries. They also recalled that Jewish immigrants sailed from Rijeka to Israel on the “Draga” ship in 1938.

Numerous ships carrying Jews travelled across the Adriatic to their new land and the years between 1937 and 1949 were especially significant, Zatzman said, adding that the history of Susak is written into the history of Israel.

Croatia’s Economy Minister Darko Horvat said that the catamaran was one of those projects that are created in small shipyards in Croatia and become an export product.

Putting ourselves at the disposal of buyers is an honour and a pleasure. Despite all those problems that Croatia’s shipbuilding is experiencing, this is proof that building ships in Croatia can survive on a market basis, he said.

He added that this does not refer to ships that used to be built in the Uljanik and 3. Maj docks, but that Croatia has to find its niche for which it can find a market.

Croatian shipbuilding has to take on a new philosophy, Horvat believes.

Horvat confirmed that Croatia is not satisfied with the level of trade between the two countries.

We have trade valued at €60 million with Albania and €60 million with Israel which can by no means be satisfactory, he said and announced two conferences that will be held in Zagreb and Tel Aviv.

An innovation conference will be held in Zagreb in late September that business associations from Israel will attend and that will be followed by a conference in Tel Aviv.

Trade with Israel in 2018 amounted to €53.3 million, which is a fall of 18.8% compared to 2017 when it amounted to €65.7 million. Croatian exports to Israel amounted to €28.5 million (-44.5%) while imports from Israel amounted to €24.8 million (+73.6%).

In 2018, 68,238 tourists from Israel visited Croatia, which is an increase of 13.5% compared to 2017 and they generated 179,112 bed nights (+18.4%).

Israel’s EL AL airline has a regular charter line to Zagreb, four times a week, that is operational from 3 June to 21 October.

During talks with President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, Grabar-Kitarović underscored the importance of establishing direct Tel Aviv-Zagreb flights as and additional boost for successful business between companies in the two countries.

Having in mind the growing number of Israeli tourists in Croatia and the strong interest of Croatian citizens to visit the Holy Land, Croatia believes that regular Zagreb-Tel Aviv flights would strongly contribute to firmer connections between the two countries, people and companies.

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


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