Economic cooperation between Croatia and Bulgaria is pretty modest and it needs to be advanced and there is enough political will and interest in that on both sides, a Croatian-Bulgarian business forum heard in Sofia on Thursday.
The event was addressed by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and her Bulgarian counterpart Rosen Plevneliev, while the president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), Zeljko Kramaric, explained the current economic situation in Croatia in detail.
Six Croatian companies were presented at the forum -- Koncar EV Inc., Dalekovod, DIV, Koncar Inzenjering, IN2 and Podravka. Their representatives met with the representatives of about two dozen Bulgarian companies and several ministries.
Grabar-Kitarovic said economic cooperation between Croatia and Bulgaria was quite modest and that it needed to be advanced, saying that there was a political will for that.
Cooperation needs to be stepped up primarily in transport and energy infrastructure, she underscored.
In that context the president underscored her initiative Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea, saying it was a platform for stepping up cooperation between central Europe's north and south.
The initiative is expected to contribute to the digitalisation of the region and the development of transport and energy infrastructure, which will enable the strengthening of economic competitiveness and political stability, Grabar-Kitarovic said.
Croatia-Bulgaria trade in 2015 amounted to EUR 163.4 million and in 2014 EUR 138 million. Croatia's exports to Bulgaria in 2015 totalled HRK 67.9 million and compared with 2014 exports went up by as much as 51%.
So far, Croatia has invested approximately EUR 24 million in Bulgaria, while Bulgaria's investments in Croatia are nearly non-existent.
Briefing those present about Bulgaria's economy, Plevneliev said Bulgaria had a well-developed industry and the lowest taxes in the EU of only 10%. He also underscored that his country has absorbed 97% of EU funds for the 2007-2013 period.