Ministers promote Croatia at London Investment Forum


Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister Branko Grčić led a delegation of ministers including the Governor of the Central Bank to the United Kingdom last week. On Thursday they addressed an audience of around 300 investors about the investment opportunities available in Croatia.

The full press release on the investment conference as published on the Government website is as follows:

British-Croatian Investment Forum held in London

Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and EU Funds and Regional Development Minister Branko Grcic said in London on Thursday that the Croatian authorities “do not seek to improve our investment climate. We aim higher – we want to permanently make Croatia a truly investment-friendly country”.

In his address at the first British-Croatian Trade and Investment Forum, Minister Grcic outlined legislative changes which Croatia had made so far to facilitate and boost investments.

“Let me point out that we are aware that there is still a number of steps to be taken in order to enable foreign companies to operate in Croatia with greater ease. My key message to you today is: rest assured that taking these steps is my Government’s top-priority,” Grcic said at the forum that drew about 200 participants, including business people and financial experts.

British Minister of State for Trade and Investment Stephen Green said that Croatia’s geographical position contributed to the recognition of the country’s potential as a logistical gateway and a hub for a wider area.

Green pointed to the IT sector in Croatia as being attractive to the British market and praised some Croatian start-up companies for having successfully launched businesses in the United Kingdom.

This is a unique moment for Croatia following its recent admission to the European Union, which makes it possible for Croatia to be promoted as a brand to a wider investment community, Green said, calling on Zagreb to continue its job aimed at improving the country’s competitiveness.

According to him, many British companies are interested in developing ties with Croatia, notably in the field of gas and oil exploration in the Adriatic and in telecommunications and trade services.

The president of the Developing Markets Associates Limited, Atam Sandhu, and the vice-president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Andras Simor, also spoke about the importance and opportunities for investment in Croatia and its region.

Croatian Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Sinisa Hajdas Doncic presented the forum with a dozen large-scale projects, with an emphasis being put on infrastructure, energy and tourism projects. The focus of some of those projects is on industrial sectors such as the metal and chemical industries, furniture manufacturing and production of electrical appliances, equipment and machinery.

The project with the highest value that was presented in London is the monetization of Croatian highway companies HAC and ARZ, including the government’s plan to lease out over 1,000 kilometres of motorways to a concessionaire which is expected to invest EUR 3 billion in this project. Interested investors can submit their bids by mid-November.

The conference was also informed about plans to build a EUR 750 million terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) on the Adriatic island of Krk. Zagreb is set to start this job in 2014.

Also in 2014, Croatia is going to start building a thermal power plant also designed to provide district heating in the eastern city of Osijek, and this investment is estimated at EUR 450 million.

Croatia’s delegation informed the gathering about the course of the privatisation of “Petrokemija”, a leading Croatian artificial fertilizer producer, situated in the town of Kutina, southeast of Zagreb.

As for infrastructure projects, the London event was informed about plans for two airports, four seaports and one river port, including plans for cargo and storage capacities and a passenger terminal at Osijek Airport and a 16-million-euro reconstruction and extension of facilities for passengers at Rijeka Airport.

As for the tourism sector, the delegation pointed out the Pineta project within the Brijuni Rivijera project and investments in the resort of Kupari near Dubrovnik.

Croatia’s representatives presented steps which the country has taken so far to improve its investment and business climate, including enhancements in the legislative framework.”

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