Report on MEXPA’s visit to Embassy of the Republic of Croatia

The Malaysian Exporters Association (MEXPA) conducted a courtesy visit to the Croatia Embassy on 14 May 2012 and was welcomed by His Excellency Zeljko Bosnjak. The team was represented by Mr Koh See Tiang, Puan Sevaran Kaur JP and Puan Azizah Anuar.

We had a lengthy discussion with His Excellency and found that Croatia was a country with 5 million people, with western culture, multicultural and had 80,000 Muslim living there. Most of them are Christians. The Croatian call their country ‘Our Beautiful Homeland’ which relates in their national anthem. It has European parliamentary state and cultural history. The friendly Ambassador, H.E. Zeljko Bosnjak classified Croatia as one of the medium sized European countries such as Denmark, Ireland, Slovakia and Switzerland.

Croatia is a land of open frontiers and simple customs regulations, a peaceful country. It is a good place to visit as the shoreline enjoys the majority of the Adriatic coastline. The narrow Dinara mountain range separates the country’s Mediterranean region. Having the Alps in the northest and Danube in the East and fertile Pamonian Islands in the South. The population being 4,429,078 inhabits. Croatians, Serbs, Bosnians, Slovenia, Hungarian, Czech, Italians and Albanians make up the inhabitant. The capital is Zagreb. It is the economic, transport, cultural and academic centre of the country. There are 1,244 islands and the largest are Krk and Cres. There are 50 inhabited islands.

Highest peaks have mountain climate the coast has mid Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and dry and winters are wet and mild. August of each year has a climate of highest 20°C and 12°C at higher altitude (a good time to visit). The currency is kuna (MYR 1.00 = 1.8 Croatian Kuna). During tourist season, shop are open 8am-8pm, and weekend open 8am-8pm. International airport is Zagreb and they have 11 more airport and one can fly easy. The Star Alliance links Croatia by direct flights to Vienna, Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Munich, Paris, Rome, Sarajevo, Zurich, Copenhagen, Podgorica and Prishtine. Aeroflot, Air France, Austrian Airline CSA, Lufthansa, British airway and many more fly. Sea transport is also available. Rail and bus service help tourist travel too.

There are many National Parks in Brijuni Island, Kornati, Krka, Mljet, Biokovo and Koparki, Lonjsko Polje and Papuk. For accommodation one can contact +38514847474 or e-mail to Croatia has much to offer to Malaysia in their technology of vaccines, IT, energy equipment for example transformer and etc. A lot of construction project opportunities, good hotels to stay, Croatia produces good ties, good cheese, Ham and olive oils. Good incentives offered to business people. Malaysians are encouraged to visit beautiful Croatia and look into businesses. Training in culinary and tourist studies are an area to be sourced as more people are needed to work in this industry.

His Excellency Zeljko Bosnjak had much to say, despite top level visits between the both sides in the past after establishing diplomatic ties in 1995, there had been not much development in terms of trade and investment between the two countries. Investment and business potential can be explored in the energy sector, road construction, wood and chemical industries and pharmaceutical, among others. Area such as education, tourism offer good opportunities, especially construction or upgrading of hotels and resorts, particularly around the scenic Adriatic Sea are all available.

Croatia has 1,777 km2 of mainland of the Adriatic shoreline with 1,185 islands, islets and reefs as well as some of Europe’s oldest historical places. Tourism where Croatia is ranked as the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world is an important source of revenue. The country received more than 11 million foreign tourists in 2008, generating some 8 billion in revenue.

Malaysian business community is also welcomed to participate and invest in the shipbuilding industry, which Croatia is globally well-known as having one of the longest tradition and with qualified workers. We (Zagreb and Kuala Lumpur) have a very cordial and friendly relation. We should make use of this to expand and enhance our ties in various areas,” Malaysia businessmen could find reliable business partners in Croatia. Malaysian businessmen could also explore the possibility of using Croatia as a gateway or distributing point for goods and products to other neighboring countries. Croatia borders Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, and Serbia and Montenegro to the east.

“Our ports and harbors are also located strategically and Malaysian palm oil industry can use these facilities to distribute palm oil to other parts of Europe.” Another area for potential business is the halal industry as currently there are 22 registered companies dealing with halal business in Croatia country which has some 80,000 Muslims from total population of 4.48 million. Croatia is located at the crossroads of Mediterranean, Central Europe and the Balkans. It proclaimed its independence in 1991 from the former Yugoslavia.
On the other hand, Malaysia’s exports to Croatia are mainly electrical and electronic products as well garment. “But the volume of trade is very low and getting even low…something worrying,” Proton could also try to penetrate the Croatian market with a new model. Croatia had enacted business-friendly laws to attract foreign investment and businesses and the country was also known to have well-respected democracy and human rights.

Bosnjak, who is the forth ambassador from Croatia to Malaysia, said in order to boost trade, economic and investment ties, a Malaysia-Croatia Business Council was in the process of being formed. “I am very much supportive the formation of this Business Council it is important to develop two-way business because it is impossible to develop strong business ties without businessmen having the right information”. Such a forum, would be useful as now more Malaysian companies have started to enquire about doing business in Croatia. The lack of information and interest on both sides are key reasons for low business volume between the two countries. Among the top level visits was that by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Croatia in 1996 and then the Croatian Prime Minister Zlatko Matesaand to Malaysia in 1997, followed by the President Stjepan Mesic to Malaysia in 2002. MFA Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman to Croatia.

The visit ended with an exchange of souvenirs and a follow up Trade Mission will be organized.

Report prepared by;
Puan Sevaran Kaur JP
State rep. (NS)/ Liaison officer of MEXPA