In terms of digital economy, Croatia ranks 24th among the European Union's 28 member states, which is low, but the good thing is that it is making progress and approaching the EU average, because that is an unavoidable foundation for export growth and progress, a panel on digital economy heard on Monday.
The panel was held as part of the 11th Croatian Exporters Convention, which drew hundreds of participants.
In his keynote address, Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said a higher growth in investments was necessary alongside GDP and export growth and that one way to achieve that was to improve the investment climate and introduce digital processes in all social structures, including the economy.
Croatian National Bank governor Boris Vujcic said ICT was the most propulsive sector in Croatia, with a 33 percent increase in software exports, which he said raised Croatia's digital economy export rating, although generally it lagged behind in that sector.
Small and medium enterprises have a big share in digital economy in Croatia, they are more flexible and account for one fifth of online sales in Croatia and nine percent of foreign sales, which is above the EU average, Vujcic said.
He said that export growth over the past two and a half years was more due to non-price factors, notably Croatia's EU accession, and that for further export growth it was necessary to improve the investment and business climate.
"If we make headway in that, we will certainly see new investments in the export sector because, although existing companies have started exporting more, we still don't have enough investments and the focus should be on that," Vujcic said.
He said companies in Croatia, notably SMEs, should turn more towards financing sources on the capital market, as many lacked capital and collateral to borrow from banks.
Entrepreneurship Minister Darko Horvat said there were many markets in which Croatian exporters could step up their presence, as shown by a recent visit to Iran, where a big contract for Gredelj and one for AD Plastik were "a step away from signing."
"There is plenty of work for Croatian companies in Iran, as well as in some other Arab countries and Turkey," he said, adding that his ministry would make all the necessary preparations for next year so that the Enterprise Impulse incentive programme could become e-Impulse, a contribution to the development of digital economy.