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Panel Hails Business Opportunities After Croatia EU Accession

Portorož, 15 May (STA) - A panel held as part of the 30th financial conference in Portorož identified on Wednesday the forthcoming accession of Croatia to the EU as major opportunity for Croatian as well as Slovenian companies. Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) head Samo Hribar Milič stressed the need to cut red tape and create an atmosphere of cooperation.

Hribar Milič pointed out that Croatia was one of Slovenia's most important economic partners and expressed his belief that the shared interests and knowledge allowed the two countries a joint foray into certain markets, also beyond the Balkans.

Branko Roglić of Croatian distributing group Orbico identified a number of possibilities too, for instance in tourism, where mixed companies could be established at Slovenian skiing destinations on the one side and on the Croatian coast on the other.

However, Roglić expects the EU entry to bring more foreign competition as well, which will hurt companies with low value added. At the same time foreign capital and ideas can mean more growth, he noted.

Ivana Gažić of the Zagreb stock exchange pointed out that Croatia was facing similar problems as Slovenia and singled out a wall of red tape that is scaring away potential investors.

She added that there had been no real privatisation since the sale of the national telco in Croatia, arguing that a fresh wave of privatisation could provide a new momentum for the market.

The vice-governor of Croatia's central bank Vedran Šošić noted that the Croatian financial sector had preserved a certain level of flexibility, which was reducing risk. Thus loans to the private sector in the country have increased by 15% since the start of the crisis, while Slovenia has dropped to pre-crisis levels in this respect.

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