The visa regime and double taxation make it difficult for Croatian companies to start a business in the United States, and they also hamper US investment in Croatia, so it would be good to resolve these issues as soon as possible, a seminar entitled "America Made Easy" was told on Tuesday.
The seminar was organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), the American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia and the Avitus Group.
HGK vice-president Ivan Barbaric said that the visa regime and double taxation were the two biggest obstacles for Croatian businesses in the US.
"I hope that the request to abolish visas will be granted in the coming years. As for double taxation, Croatia is in fact the only EU member state that has not signed a double taxation avoidance agreement with the US," Barbaric said, adding that double taxation had a negative effect not only on Croatian companies but also on US investment in Croatia.
He said that this mostly affected Croatian IT firms such as producers of video games, whose revenue is cut by 30 percent because of double taxation, adding that this makes them less competitive on the US market.
US ambassador Robert Kohorst said that the US government has a special team preparing double taxation agreements with countries world wide, including Croatia.
Our administration is primarily focused on large countries, but we systematically try to encourage the Department of the Treasury to move Croatia up on the list of priorities. It's good that the agreement with Croatia requires no special preparations, but can be based on agreements with other EU member states. As for visas, Croatia should drop below three percent of refused visa applications. Currently you are very close to this figure, and I think it's only a matter of time before visas are lifted, possibly as early as the end of 2020, Kohorst said.
He referred Croatian businesses to the Select USA program which the US administration has launched for foreign companies and investors. The US is a very competitive and complex market. One often needs assistance to be able to do business there, and it is difficult for foreigners to decide where and how to start a business, he added.
The value of Croatian-US trade last year reached $620 million, of which Croatian exports accounted for slightly over $400 million. In the first half of this year Croatian exports to the US increased by 25 percent compared with the same period last year.