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“Croatia Holds a Business Forum in Seoul…Looking forward to the development of trade relations”

“Croatia Holds a Business Forum in Seoul…Looking forward to the development of trade relations”

Posted May. 22, 2024 09:29,   

Updated May. 22, 2024 09:41

- Interview with H.E. Damir Kušen, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the Republic of Korea
- The Croatia-Korea Business Forum to be held on June 3

“The business forum in Seoul should promote business, trade and investment between the two countries.”

In an interview with Dong-A Dotcom on the 24th of last month, Damir Kušen, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the Republic of Korea, expressed his plan to prepare for a bilateral business forum in Seoul on the 3rd of next month. Under the theme of "Croatia-Korea Business Forum: Business Opportunities in the Heart of Europe," companies, institutions and business representatives from both countries will gather to discuss not only the help of Croatian companies to enter the Korean market but also the implementation of Korean companies to enter the Croatian market.

The business forum, which will be held in Seoul, will be hosted by the Croatian Embassy for the first time. Prime Minister, Han Duck-soo, visited Croatia from October 11-12 last year and met with Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, to upgrade the bilateral relationship to a ‘comprehensive future-oriented partnership’.

The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on June 3 on the 21st floor of the Daeyungak Tower in Toegye-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul.

As Croatia joined the Eurozone and Schengen on January 1 last year, the Prime Ministers of the two countries agreed to continue to support exchanges and communication between related Ministries and businessmen so that bilateral trade investment can be promoted, and in particular, to expand cooperation in the fields of ▲ port and logistics ▲ energy ▲ defense ▲ science and technology.

Croatia introduced the euro as its official currency on January 1st last year, entering the eurozone 10 years after joining the European Union, and joining the Schengen Agreement between EU countries (27 countries), which allows travelers to cross borders freely without ID checks, will be able to boast of its value as a "European gateway" to Koreans.

In February last year, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, Ahn Duk-geun, visited Croatia to discuss economic and trade cooperation.
Below is a question and answer from an interview with Ambassador Kušen.
―First of all, congratulations on hosting the Croatia-Korea Business Forum. Could you please provide information on the agenda and objectives of the Forum?

“This Croatian-Korean business forum follows the official visit of the Korean Prime Minister, Mr. Han Duck-soo, to Croatia in October of last year. During that visit, he and the Croatian Prime Minister, Mr. Andrej Plenković, signed the Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership between our two countries, which marked a significant upgrade in our bilateral relations. We are committed to enhancing the level of our business and trade cooperation and to encouraging Korean companies and financial institutions to recognize the business and investment potential of Croatia. This business forum has an agenda, program, and objectives aimed at serving as a networking platform for Korean and Croatian companies to meet and explore their mutual interests.”

―I heard that Boris Vujčić, the Govenor of Croatian National Bank will visit and deliver keynote speech.

“Yes, the Governor Vujčić will explain about the investment/business opportunities in Croatia considering global trends in general. He will talk about fiscal policy of Croatia and EU. The speech will be a good opportunity for Korean business associations, institutions, and representatives to acquire insight regarding potential influence they can gain by investing and operating business in Croatia. The special guest of the forum will be also President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, Mr Luka Burilović.”

―What will the companies of the two countries talk in the forum?

“The forum program is designed to provide maximum practical benefit to all participants, both from Korea and Croatia, tailored to correspond with the sectors and business activities of the majority of participating companies. Croatian company Podravka is one of the biggest food processing companies in Southeast Europe with the wide range of products includes soups, sauces, ready-to-serve meals, canned-fish, baby food, beverages, and more.

The IT sector has emerged as a strong contributor to global markets from Croatia, reflecting the long-standing innovativeness of the Croatian people. Infobip, one of Croatia's unicorn companies, will be represented at the Business Forum. Infobip, the competitive and top-performing cloud communication platform, has been used in over 70 countries. Korean companies in need of a significant upgrade in their communication capacity with a large number of customers are encouraged to meet Infobip representatives.

Orbico Group, the leading distributor of more than 500 global and local brands in 24 countries across Europe, with a turnover exceeding 4 billion USD. Orbico can assist Korean exporters with product placement in Europe, leveraging their unique and dominant position in the European market.”

―I am curious about the benefits of Korean companies entering Croatian market.

“As a member of the European Union, Croatia is an integral part of the European single market, which consists of more than 450 million people with significant purchasing capacity, so I think it is attractive to Korean companies. Croatia experienced a GDP growth of 2.8 percent, marking the 12th consecutive quarter of growth. Moreover, Croatia's strategically located seaports, such as the Port of Rijeka and Zadar, position themselves as "Gateway to Europe." Products entering these ports can readily access customers in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and South-Eastern Europe. It's noteworthy that the Busan Port Authority and the Rijeka Port Authority signed a cooperation agreement last October. Rijeka port is currently undergoing extensive infrastructure expansion and is seeking potential partners.

One of the key areas for developing strong, long-term cooperation between Croatia and Korea is the energy sector. Croatia stands as one of the main energy hubs of Europe, boasting an LNG terminal, refineries, and pipelines connecting the Adriatic Sea with continental Europe. Positioned strategically on the European transport corridors network, Croatia plans to reconstruct its railway system in the coming years with significant assistance from European Union funds.”

―What achievements do you expect after signing of cooperation agreement between ‘Croatia-Korea Business Club’ and ‘Korea-Croatia Business Club’?

“The Croatian-Korean Business Club, led by Mr. Zoran Horvat, who has been involved in business connections with Korea for over 30 years, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. I am pleased to announce that a group of distinguished Korean business leaders, led by former KOIMA Chairman Mr. Hong Kwang-hee, has decided to establish the Korean-Croatian Business Association here in Seoul. This association will serve as a cooperation and networking platform for sharing experiences and facilitating business and trade between Korea and Croatia.”

― ‘Tourism industry’ is essential in Croatia. After the end of pendamic, how is it going?

“After Covid-19, the tourism industry is recovering as the number of tourists visiting Croatia is increasing. Compared to 2021, revenue from tourism increased by 44 percent in 2022 and an additional 11.4% last year. The number of tourists visited Croatia last year is more than 20 million, including approximately 146,000 Koreans. Before Covid-19, almost half a million Koreans visited Croatia.”

―It seems that the tourism is recovering more quickly than expected. What is the attractiveness of Croatia that tourists feel?

“Croatia offers rich historical heritage, with well-preserved ancient towns and palaces. Representatively, I can mention the UNESCO-protected Diocletian’s Palace in Split, and Dubrovnik, a globally renowned Renaissance city. In addition, there are many places people can feel the beauty of nature, such as Plitvice Lakes National Park. Croatia also boasts 1,777 km of coastline and 1,244 islands. I also recommend people to visit Istria, the northwestern peninsula of Croatia, if they already visited Dubrovnik or Split. Istria offers Roman Amphitheater in Pula and beautiful medieval towns perched atop hills, surrounded by ancient walls. The towns host music and art festivals and excellent cuisines and wines will welcome you. Adriatic sea is famous for its crystal-clear water and many people enjoy their holidays. Scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, or tuna fishing is also possible in Croatia. Safety and security are crucial factors when choosing a travel destination, and Croatia ranks among the safest destinations. It boasts low crime rates, safe and reliable taxi and public transport services, and friendly and hospitable locals.”

―I heard that LCC T’way starts the direct flight of Incheon-Zagreb from May.

“T’way will operate the direct flight of Incheon-Zagreb three times per week from the mid of May. Introducing the direct flight, the two countries became closer neighbors. Nearly 500,000 Koreans visited Croatia every year before Covid-19 and more than 1.2 million people visited Croatia from Eastern-Asia Pacific region including Australia and New Zealand.”

Cho Youkyung