Trade between Croatia and North Macedonia has increased by 13% during the coronavirus pandemic, a meeting between a North Macedonia delegation, headed by President Stevo Pendarovski, and officials of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) was told in Zagreb on Thursday.
The meeting took place as part of Pendarovski’s visit to Croatia. “We want to create an effective system to help businesses further increase trade and surpass the present figures,” the president of North Macedonia said according to a press release issued by the HGK.
HGK president Luka Burilovic noted that North Macedonia had Croatia’s unreserved political support for its European Union membership bid, but that greater emphasis should be placed on strengthening economic ties.
“Businesses in Croatia and North Macedonia do not have time to wait for politicians to agree but have to make the best of the present framework, and the HGK is at their disposal,” Burilovic said.
He said that there was great potential for economic cooperation in energy, notably in renewable energy sources, as well as in construction, transport and tourism.
HGK vice-president for international relations Ivan Barbarić said that trade between the two countries proved to be very resilient to the impact of the pandemic.
Trade reached €221 million in 2020, up by nearly 13% from the previous year, with both imports and exports increasing, Barbaric said. Although the trade was dominated by agricultural and food products, this is beginning to change towards exports of products with high added value, he noted.
Last year, the most significant Croatian products exported to North Macedonia were motor vehicles and medicines, while the Macedonian pharmaceutical industry exported €8.5 million worth of medicines to Croatia.
The president of the North Macedonian Chamber of Commerce, Danela Arsovska, said it was important to exchange views and pinpoint sectors with the highest potential for cooperation. “We need to intensify business talks, step up investment in manufacturing and cooperate in tourism promotion because there is great potential in this in the post-corona period. Of course, there are also EU funds that open up great opportunities for cooperation and investment,” she said.