The conference is organised by the County Chamber in Split, Split-Dalmatia County and the local branch office of the Croatian Heritage Foundation and aims to showcase the economic potential and advantages of investment in the county.

There are interested investors, but we need to make it easier for them to invest. This is the conclusion of the first day of a two-day conference entitled It’s Time To Invest in Split-Dalmatia County 2013, staged on September 2nd and 3rd at the County Chamber of Commerce.
The conference is organised by the County Chamber in Split, Split-Dalmatia County and the local branch office of the Croatian Heritage Foundation and aims to showcase the economic potential and advantages of investment in the county.
Nadan Vidošević, president of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, noted that the number of investors was commensurate to the situation in which Croatia currently finds itself.
“We are a transition society, we have departed from one system and are building a new one, and that is a difficult undertaking. It is no simple job, therefore, and there are a number of factors that are not playing into our hand. Croatia joined NATO just as the global economic crisis started, which hit this part of Europe particularly hard. We are joining the European Union at a point in time when the highest growth rate of seven per cent is in Germany, while Italy, Hungary and Slovenia are in negative growth. All of the circumstances are, then, not in our favour. In better circumstances some of our weaknesses would not be as evident,” Vidošević observes, adding that there are investors, but that what is disconcerting is their structure.

Keep you eye on partners from Central Europe
“They have come largely from the financial sector, retail or telecommunications – there has been no production, in particular in new technologies, and that should constitute a particular challenge. This conference is also somewhere in this vein. And besides, it is my great desire to see Croatia take a somewhat different turn on its future when we speak of partners,” Vidošević emphasised. The partners Croatia should be paying particular attention to are from Central Europe, including Germany, Austria and northern Italy.
“This is the region with which we ought to communicate. The stereotype of the region needs to change. But this has yet to happen – neither in the heads of many of us in the business sector, nor among those tasked with creating economic policy. This is entirely new, and, if you have noticed, there is not enough contact, for example between Poland and Croatia, the Czech Republic and Croatia, Slovakia and Croatia – the contacts between Bavaria and Croatia are relatively good and Austria is the largest investor into country, and that is a good sign. But here too we need to position ourselves in a different and better fashion,” Vidošević said.

The Chamber of Economy head also spoke of the latest data on a drop in GDP of 0.7 per cent, noting that we can in no way be satisfied with these results. What is important is that Government learns to adopt decisions as quickly as possible.
“The real challenge is at what speed we can, for example, adopt a decision on whether we want to move forward on Duilovo, Kupare or any other such projects – do we want to move forward on the Pelješac bridge, Žuta Lokva or not; the Podravina trunk road; do we want to put off the Omiš-Trogir bypass or are we going to make a decision. Are we going to ease the way for people bringing new technologies or innovation, provide them with capital to make it happen faster?” Vidošević asked.

Poor demographics
Vidošević finds one of the reasons for the poor situation in the Croatian economy in poor demographics.
“Pensioners now account for over 25 per cent of the total Croatian population. When you add to that the unemployed and the qualifications makeup of the unemployed, then you will see that every third person in the country, in fact, puts pressure on the national budget. With large figures like these it is hard to put out a competitive product, because every product manufactured here by any producer has this social expenditure built into its price in some percentage,” Vidošević concluded.
(www.index.hr)