Croatian-Slovak innovation forum highlights many cooperation possibilities

ZAGREB, 20.6.2017.

Croatia and Slovakia have good economic relations but there is room for progress in many sectors such as energy, infrastructure, the electrical industry, transport and tourism, the Croatian-Slovak Innovation Forum heard at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) on Tuesday.

The auto industry, road-building, the chemical industry and environmental protection are also promising cooperation areas, it was said.

The forum, bringing together representatives of 18 Slovak and 36 Croatian companies, was held as part of Slovak President Andrej Kiska's official visit at the invitation of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

Opening the forum, Grabar-Kitarovic said that Croatia had a high deficit in the trade with Slovakia and that Slovak companies' investments in the Croatian economy were five times higher than Croatian companies' investments in the Slovak economy.

In order to achieve a balance, Croatia must intensify efforts regarding investments and the development of trade relations, which it can do only by reforming its economy into one offering more complex and more advanced products and services as well as a stimulating investment climate, Grabar-Kitarovic said.

She underlined the importance of innovations and modern technologies. "Innovations are crucially important in the creation of an efficient and competitive market economy. Investments in research and development, in science and innovations, are the fundamental prerequisites for faster economic development and international competitiveness."

The Slovak president too underlined the importance of ideas, innovations and new technologies. He said business people from both countries should use the chance provided by the common European Union market of 500 million people.

Those who wish to be successful must be capable of utilising the possibilities of that large market, he added.

HGK president Luka Burilovic said the forum was aimed at boosting economic relations and that it created room for new business opportunities.

According to Croatia's statistical office, Croatian-Slovak trade in 2016 totalled EUR 499.1 million, down 4.7% on the year. Croatian exports totalled EUR 176.1 million (-0.07%), while imports went up 7.16% to EUR 323.1 million, resulting in a Croatian deficit of EUR 147 million.

Nearly 381,000 Slovak tourists visited Croatia in 2016, accounting for 2.6 million nights, down on the year by about 2% in both arrivals and nights.

According to the Croatian National Bank, Slovak direct investments in Croatia from 1993 through 2016 totalled EUR 114.2 million, ranking Slovakia 23rd among foreign investors in Croatia. Croatian investments in Slovakia in said period were EUR 23.4 million, ranking Slovakia 21st among the countries in which Croatia invested. (Hina)