“In Croatia you have to eat Janjetina many times before you get to a deal”

By Alexandra Jocham, RBI |

Sonja Holocher-Ertl, Austrian economic delegate in Zagreb

The Austrian economic delegate in Zagreb, Sonja Holocher-Ertl, spoke with Discover CEE about interesting business locations in Croatia, gave first-hand tips for doing business and how to escape crowded beaches in summer.

Ms. Holocher-Ertl, what is it that makes Croatia attractive for investors?

Croatia is the youngest EU member country, it celebrated five years of membership on July 1, 2018. It has a favorable geostrategic location, with excellent road infrastructure and promising deep-sea ports that could make it one of Europe’s top logistic and transport hubs. Due to its solid education system, investors can usually rely on finding suitably skilled staff.

Which region or sector is developing especially well in Croatia?

Croatia is well-known for its beautiful sea and it is famous for its coastline and islands. Hence, Croatia’s tourism is developing exceptionally well, with growth rates of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent in the past few years, and a share in GDP of about 20 per cent. The IT sector, which is benefitting from a very good higher education system in this field, is also showing very promising developments.

In which areas must Croatia improve to attract more investors?

According to surveys, which have been conducted among foreign investors in Croatia, ineffective public administration, red tape and insufficient legal security are the areas with the most urgent needs for improvement to become more attractive to investors.

What tips do you have for investors?

Croatia offers good support for foreign investors on the national level, for instance through its law on investment incentives. In our experience, problems for investors often arise on a local level, when local political support is lacking or is lost for some reason. Advantage Austria Zagreb, the Zagreb office of Aussenwirtschaft Austria (WKO), is a first point of call for Austrian investors who consider investing in Croatia. It will provide potential investors with information, guidance and access to its network of contacts. For more information visit wko.at/aussenwirtschaft/kroatien (German only).

Are there any special habits that should be considered in business relationships?

Investors should not expect things to move fast in Croatia. A very experienced consultant with Croatian heritage, but raised in Austria, once put it that way: in Croatia you have to eat Janjetina (lamb from the spit, very delicious) many times before you will get to a deal. In my view that sums it up quite nicely.

If I visit the country, what should I especially look for? Do you have any secret tip for me?

Croatia is a stunningly beautiful country. You will find exceptional beauty and natural treasures practically everywhere. In summer, however, the coast can get very crowded. One way to escape the crowds is to hire a boat. You will most certainly find secluded spots with hardly anyone else around.

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