Croatia is currently hosting the latest 16+1 summit, a Chinese initiative to strengthen business ties between China and 16 countries from Central and Eastern Europe. Delegates are hoping to sign nine bilateral agreements and to kick-start the export of milk and dairy products to hungry China.
“This is a big opportunity to increase exports and start new investment cycles”, said Luka Burilović, president of the Croatian Chamber of Economy (HGK). “We can expect higher affinity of Chinese consumers for our products. We are intensively working on standardising the license procedures in co-operation with the competent institutions of both countries and we believe that the dairy industry is just the beginning.”
On April 11, Croatia’s prime minister Andrej Plenković and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang visited the construction site of the 2.4-kilometre Pelješac bridge, which when complete will connect the Croatian mainland with the Dubrovnik–Neretva region, negating the need to pass through Bosnia.
Funded primarily by the European Union, the bridge, which is costing around 420 million euros, is being built by a Chinese company, the China Road and Bridge Corporation.
“This bridge is a model of tripartite cooperation among China, Croatia and the EU,” said Mr Li.
“It is indeed the most important infrastructure project carried out so far,” Paver Hrvoje, HGK’s deputy director told Emerging Europe at MIPIM 2019. “Thanks to the new bridge, Croatia will be better connected to other countries and it will be easier to approach without having to pass through Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
The bridge is scheduled to open in 2021.