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Prime Minister: Croatia can become global investment destination

14. May 2010. | 05:51

Source: Hina

Croatia has all the prerequisites to become a global investment destination, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said in her opening remarks at the Croatia Investment Forum in Zagreb on Thursday.

Croatia has all the prerequisites to become a global investment destination, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said in her opening remarks at the Croatia Investment Forum in Zagreb on Thursday.

Today's event is a chance to take a deeper look at the investment potential of the Croatian economy so that it could begin a new investment cycle, Kosor said in her address to representatives of international financial institutions, commercial banks and investors.

Croatia offers global investors a series of advantages and possibilities, including developed infrastructure, a favourable geographical position, a good and educated work force, and a competitive and attractive system of incentives and grants for direct investment, she said.

The forum was taking place ahead of an annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which will be held in Zagreb on May 14 and 15. It was jointly opened by Kosor and EBRD President Thomas Mirow.

By joining the European Union, Croatia will gain access to a market of about 500 million people, so it continues reforms in order to become competitive on the European and global markets, the prime minister said, adding that investment in new development projects and business initiatives are crucial.

The Croatian government has recently adopted a programme for economic recovery, which is focused on removing administrative obstacles to foreign investment, building a system of e-administration, tax reform, reduction of non-tax duties, simplifying the operation of small and medium-sized enterprises, and a strong fight against corruption.

As part of the programme, the government will continue to provide incentives to investors in accordance with EU legislation, Kosor said, recalling that such measures have so far helped with more than 120 investment projects launched by domestic and foreign investors. The projects are worth 10 billion kuna in total, and thanks to them 13,000 new jobs have been created.

Kosor said that from 1993 to the end of 2009, direct foreign investment in Croatia totalled 24 billion euros.

Mirow said that the EBRD had invested over two billion euros in Croatia since 1994, including 242 million euros in small and medium-sized enterprises in 2009 alone.

The small and medium enterprises sector is crucial for the economic development of any country, and Croatia's agriculture and tourism cannot successfully function without that foundation either, Mirow said.

The EBRD has recently adopted a new strategy for Croatia, focusing on support for the corporate, financial and investment sectors, as well as on promoting corporate competitiveness and increasing energy efficiency.

Mirow said that the EBRD was also willing to support the improvement of Croatia's infrastructure and regional cooperation, as well as the finalisation of its EU accession negotiations.

Three panels will be held as part of the forum -- investment opportunities, infrastructure development and environmental protection, and tourism development projects and possibilities.

Meanwhile, the Croatian non-governmental environmental organisation, Zelena Akcija (Green Action), and the European network of non-governmental organisations, Bankwatch, held a press conference in Zagreb at which they drew attention to the fact that the EBRD was funding not only sustainable development projects but also projects that were harmful to people and the environment, such as coal-fired thermal power plants, ironworks and mines.

The glamour of the official programme of the EBRD annual meeting conceals the actual impact of projects on people and the environment, they said.


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