Croatia and China open ambitious chapter in economic and trade relations

Photo /Vijesti/2019/04 Travanj/11 travnja/Press/Sv. Marko.JPG

Croatia and China on Wednesday opened a new, ambitious chapter in their economic and trade relations, which their prime ministers described as "a fruitful milestone".

Twenty-seven years since the two countries established diplomatic relations, China is ready to increase investment in the newest EU member state and open its market to more Croatian products, especially agricultural ones.

Trade between the two countries is about a billion euros annually, and 250,000 Chinese tourists visited Croatia last year.

"We will import more Croatian products that suit Chinese consumers and encourage a more balanced trade," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said after meeting with his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenkovic.

Li, the first Chinese head of government to visit Croatia, said that he had eaten Croatian food at a reception on Tuesday evening and enjoyed it.

He called on the Croatian government to prepare more specialised tourist products for Chinese visitors which they would buy and take home.

"Although we are geographically distant, we are willing to bring our hearts closer together and open a diamond period in our relations," Li said.

Relations between Zagreb and Beijing have peaked after the China Road and Bridge Corporation was selected to build the Peljesac Bridge in southern Croatia.

The next major projects could be the modernisation of the Zagreb-Rijeka railway and Croatian seaports. "We are ready to increase the synchronisation of the One Belt, One Road initiative with Croatian development strategies," Li said.

The two countries on Wednesday signed six agreements concerning railways, agriculture, digital technology and tourism. Another four are due to be signed at the 16+1 summit in Dubrovnik on Thursday and Friday.

Marco Polo and 500 million Chinese football supporters

"This visit is a milestone for Croatia-China relations" and "a great opportunity for Croatian exporters and businesses," Prime Minister Plenkovic said.

The meeting between Li and Plenkovic was their sixth in the last two and a half years. Plenkovic presented him with an electric bicycle manufactured by the Rimac company and a football signed by members of the Croatian national football team, while Li's gift to Plenkovic was a basketball and a Chinese national basketball team jersey.

The two leaders attended the opening of an exhibition on scholars of ancient China in Zagreb's Klovicevi Dvori Gallery, which marked the Chinese-Croatian Year of Culture and Tourism and will include a number of bilateral events in both countries.

Li said that the Chinese know about Croats through Marco Polo, "the man who connected the East and the West and who was born on the island of Korcula", and the Croatian national football team at the World Cup championship in Russia.

"Half a billion Chinese watched their success, so it can be said that you have the biggest fan base in China," Li said in jest.

Croatia, China sign memorandum of understanding on investment

Croatian Economy, Enterprise and Crafts Minister Darko Horvat and Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan in Zagreb on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding regulating the setting up of a joint task force for cooperation in investment, as part of the Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation.

The memorandum is aimed at creating a framework for more intensive and concrete cooperation between the two countries, which is expected to contribute to the investment climate.

Croatia, China sign memorandum of cooperation in sports

During Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang's visit to Croatia, the two countries have signed a number of bilateral agreements, including one regulating cooperation in sports.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the General Administration of Sport of China and the Croatian State Office for Sports was signed in Zagreb on Wednesday by Croatian Deputy State Secretary for Sport Kresimir Samija and Chinese Ambassador to Croatia Hu Zhaoming.

The document is expected to promote the two countries' relations in sports.

Croatia and Huawei sign memorandum to encourage cooperation in digitisation

Croatia's Central State Office for the Development of Digital Society and the Chinese telecommunications equipment and consumer electronics company Huawei on Wednesday signed a memorandum aimed at encouraging cooperation in digitisation and digital transformation.

The document was signed by the State Secretary of the Central State Office for the Development of Digital Society, Bernard Grsic, and the CEO of Huawei Technologies Croatia, Zhang Heng.

The memorandum provides for continued communication and stronger cooperation between Huawei and Croatia in developing "smart city" solutions, exchanging expertise, industrial standards and using the possibility of attending conferences and seminars on digital technologies in Croatia and in China.

Both signatories expressed their satisfaction with the memorandum, with Zhang saying that it would strengthen the cooperation between Huawei and Croatia, and show in the best way what Huawei could offer in the digital transformation of the country. Grsic said that this would help Croatia ensure faster growth and develop a digital society and economy.

Text: Hina