The potential for cooperation between Croatian and Russian companies is big, notably in energy, agriculture, the pharmaceutical, food and textile industries, and tourism, the Croatia-Novosibirsk Business Meeting at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) heard on Wednesday.
The HGK has been supporting the expansion of its members to Russia for years, HGK vice president Ivan Barbaric said, adding that the Novosibirsk region could offer a lot to entrepreneurs who dared to venture into that faraway and, to Croatians, still exotic market.
The region is rich in natural resources with large reserves of gas, coal, bauxite and other metals, huge forest resources and mineral springs, and a very developed and diversified economy, he said.
Its leading industries are aviation, energy, the manufacture of textile and farming machinery, electronic components and devices, and metallurgy, Barbaric said, voicing hope that entrepreneurs would find profitable joint projects.
Russian Ambassador Anvar Azimov said an intergovernmental commission of the two countries would meet in Moscow later this month, including four working groups that would define future cooperation in the economy and culture.
He said Croatia-Russia trade in 2018 totalled US$ 1.5 billion and that he hoped this year it would surpass $2 billion.
He said hydrocarbons accounted for 95% of Russian exports to Croatia and that they would like to diversify.
Azimov said $200 million worth of Croatian exports to Russia was expected by the end of the year but that this was still too little, adding that he could remember when the exports reached $500 million.
He invited Croatian companies to be more active on the Russian market. Competition is big but I am confident that there are niches also for Croatian companies, he said, urging Croatian entrepreneurs to promote their interests on the Russian market more aggressively.
The president of the Novosibirsk City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Yuri Bernadsky, said now was the time to raise economic cooperation to a higher level.
In one year alone, trade between the Novosibirsk region and the EU went up by over 50%, gross regional product reached $18.5 billion and more than half the industries are high-tech, he said.
The presentation of investment possibilities in Croatia and Novosibirsk was followed by meetings of 25 Croatian and Russian companies.