By Marija Avramovic – Zagreb
International conference “Summit 100” gathered yesterday the strongest entrepreneurs from Croatia and the region of Cavtat, as well as Presidents from eight countries. Entrepreneurs see salvation in regional cooperation and expand into new markets, and they have requested the support of the politicians.
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic invited the businessmen from the region of Southeastern Europe to support those policies that advocate cooperation among countries.
“By supporting collaboration, you’re supporting your success and the success of yours countries”, he said, alluding to the political forces whose actions hinder cooperation, and hence economic development.
Serbia, according to the words of Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, can help countries in the region gain access to markets, to which they would not have access otherwise.
“Alone we do not have a product for markets that are looking for a great product and big quantites. Our only chance is in being together”, said Nikolic, indicating that agriculture is the region’s export and development opportunity, because all countries in the region have a fruitful and healthy land, but what is holding them back is the fact that they do not apply genetic modification and that is why agriculture needs a product, investment and better organization.
The chairman of the BiH Presidency Bakir Izetbegovic identifies the reason for the weak economy of the countries in the region primarily to political stability, recalling how wars and political crises candowngrade the economy. “We need to guarantee political stability and security investments”, said Izetbegovic.
The president of the Croatian Employers’ Association (HUP) Ivica Mudrunic at the opening of the summit noted that we live in a world characterized by globalization and digitalization. “Competition from distant lands and new brands jeopardize operations and future advancement, which makes regional cooperation a natural condition for a relatively small economy and markets”, he said.
Participants of the meeting from the energy sector have suggested that in September energy ministers from the region should first meet to decide on a common strategy, and then move on to forming their national energy strategy.
The organizers presented research that shows, among other things, that the inhabitants of the region make up 5 percent of the EU population, and make 1 percent of Europe’s GDP.
Josipovic commented on a statement by the member of the BiH Presidency Zeljko Komsica, who mentioned on the stated panel that “the EU’s borders divide the region” because on the one hand there’re standards of the EU and on the other hand some other standards, describing it as wrong thinking.
Unlike Komsic, Nikolic estimated that “Slovenia and Croatia are rapidly pulling Serbia to create the conditions for a positive comment about us”.
Businessmen adhere to ceratain standarts before the politicians of their countries – in the sector of food and drinks they’re seeking stronger cooperation and the development of regional tourism brands, while seeking a single regional visa for China, India and the Far East.
To increase the number of trucks on regional routes carriers seek urgent agreement among Serbia, Croatia and Turkey for value-added tax (VAT). The ICT sector suggested that the governments in the region introduce the position of the Chief Information Officer, who would make sure that requirements of entrepreneurs are implemented into the laws.
The two-day “Summit 100” of business leaders in the region so far was held in Serbia and Montenegro, and this year is being held in Croatia.