ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY: Minister Vrdoljak Leads Business Delegation to Russia Despite EU/U.S. Objections

ivan_vrdoljak_VladaRH_62523 February 2015, LPJ Croatia Issue 121

On 17 February, a business delegation comprised of over 100 Croatian companies participated in the Russia-Croatia Business Forum and Investment Conference in Moscow, Russia.  The delegation was headed by Economy Minister, Ivan Vrdoljak (HNS), Croatian Chamber of Economy (HGK) President, Luka Burilovic (HDZ), and former Croatian President, Stjepan Mesic.

Representatives of over 250 Russian companies attended the event, including undertakings presently under international sanctions due to their involvement in the Ukraine military conflict.  The Russian delegation was led by Sergey Karaulov from the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, and Andrey Podenok, Moscow Association of Entrepreneurs (MEA) Chair.  The HGK and the MEA signed a cooperation agreement during the forum.

In the first ten months of 2014, trade between Russia and Croatia was up 25% year-on-year; Russian exports to Croatia totalled €930 million, while Croatian exports to Russia amounted to €250.6 million.

Vrdoljak stated all Europe-based companies were trying to maintain economic cooperation in areas not targeted by EU sanctions against Russia and to improve cooperation in the future, implying that the same principle applies to Croatian companies.  Therefore, the forum had two goals: preserve economic cooperation and find room to improve these relations in the future, stated Vrdoljak.

Dragan Kovacevic, from the state-owned oil pipeline operator JANAF, commended the joint initiative of the Ministry of Economy and HGK, adding that Croatian entrepreneurs need support in accelerating their export efforts, especially those who lack the necessary experience.  Deputy FM Josko Klisovic said the forum was organised by the Croatian and Russian trade chambers, and not by the respective governments.  “We want to give support to our companies, which is not against common EU policies,” underlined Klisovic.

According to Russian media, over €30 million euro worth of business deals were realised at the forum…

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