Chairman of the Association of the Wood Processing Industry at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Ivic Pasalic on Tuesday presented the Wood Processing Industry Strategy: Let's develop the wood industry.
Presenting the strategy, Pasalic said that the document was aimed at exporting final products with greater added value instead of exporting raw material.
"We are now primarily exporting raw materials and semi-final products from trees and one of the objectives we wish to achieve with this strategy is to export finished products," Pasalic said.
He said that Croatia has to improve management of its forests, emphasising that about 48% of Croatia's territory is covered by forests and the state managed 75% of them.
There are 20,000 people directly employed in the wood-processing industry and indirectly 50,000. That industry has a 3.5% stake in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generates exports worth 1.08 billion euro with a trade surplus of 500 mill euro.
Wages in that sector however are very low and average around 486 euro per month while the average revenue generated per employee is 53,500 euro, it was said at the presentation.
The strategy among else stresses the importance of subsidising rural development. The wood industry, Pasalic said, can help so that people remain in Croatia and not emigrate.
"The objective is for us to have more wood products which will have an added value, he said.
He hopes that the wood industry will have easier access to loans.
The strategy envisages measures such as limiting the sale of tree trunks outside Croatia, processing as much raw material as possible within the country, setting up a wood-processing industry register and networking all institutions within that industry.