Author: Vesna Vukšinič Zmaić
It all began back to 2002, when the need for greater economic integration between countries arose.
At that time, all important Slovenian companies had their representative offices in the Republic of Croatia. These were companies – Kolinska, Mlinotest, Ljubljanske mlekarne, Droga, Perutnina Ptuj, MIP Nova Gorica, from the pharmaceutical industry – Lek and Krka, tourist agencies – Kompas, insurance company – Sava, or companies such as: Ilirika, Tomos, Mura, Polzela, Prevent, Istrabenz, Ciciban, Mercator, Merkur, Ljubljanska banka, Rog, etc. The Slovenian economy was at its peak.
The first president of the Business Club was Lidija Žderić, and after her the presidents were Ignac Rupar and Tomaž Kalar. Mr Kačar is still an active member of the Board of Directors. Goran Berić, Director of Mesnina Kras for Croatia took, over the chairmanship of the Club in 2014, while Branko Roglić, President of Supervisory Board and owner of the Orbico Group, became Vice President.
Dr Saša Muminović, member of the management of AquafilSLO in Ljubljani and AquafilCRO in Oroslavje, became the President of SLO-CRO Business Club in 2018 and successfully led it to adulthood.
It is important to say that SLO-CRO Business Club continues to have excellent cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Zagreb, with ambassadors and economic advisers.
This year, the coronavirus surprised everyone, including the SLO-CRO Business Club. However, we adapted and moved these projects online, so we organized a Deloitte webinar for members on the measures of the Government of the Republic of Croatia to help the economy. Tiko Pro offered information on how to obtain funding through calls for project proposals, we attended the webinar of Tetida Company on the importance of digital marketing, webinar on the topic of work relations and business support was prepared by Crowe Company, and these are all members of the SLO-CRO Business Club.
At the beginning of the epidemic, when each country fought against the spread of the virus in its own way, companies, entrepreneurs and craftsmen in the Slovenian regions of Dolenjska and Bela Krajina have been facing a ban on daily migration of Croatian workers to the area since mid-March.
On 15 April 2020, SLO-CRO Business Club and the Chamber of Commerce of Dolenjska and Bela krajina sent a letter of request to the Department for Civil Protection of the Republic of Croatia, to re-examine the circumstances for opening the border to Croatian daily migrants working in the area of Dolenjska and Bela Krajina. Shortly afterwards, we were pleased to receive the news that as of Monday, 20 April 2020, Croatian daily migrants can cross the border freely to go to work in Dolenjska and Bela Krajina.
In the border areas of Slovenia, in some companies migrant workers of various occupations make up from 10 to 60% of all employees!
Economic cooperation between Croatia and Slovenia has been recording positive trends for years already, and so the trade reached the sum of €5.5 billion in 2018. In the first eleven months of 2019, Slovenia exported goods to Croatia in the value of over €2.5 billion, which was around 16& more than in the same period in 2018. Slovenia imported goods from Croatia in the value of €1.5 billion, which is 2% more than in the same period in 2018.
Slovenia is by default one of the most important partner countries in the total trade of the Republic of Croatia – in 2019, export and import accounted for about 11% of total export and import.
It is clear that this year’s economic balance will be affected by the corona crisis, it will be different than before, but Slovenians still choose Croatia as their summer holiday destination, so according to some data, the 2020 tourist season in Croatia is not completely lost.
It turned out that geographical proximity of the two economies was extremely important in the corona crisis. A common history, cultural and religious similarity and the sociological aspect of dependence – is the foundation for which Slovenia and Croatia should unite in the global market.
In his speech on 24 June 2020, at the opening of the Glamping Village Resort in Terme Tuhelj, Minister of Economy of the Republic of Slovenia confirmed that the SLO-CRO Business Club is an extremely important factor for maintaining and advancing economic cooperation between countries.
Below is an overview of significant events at the SLO-CRO Business Club in the past year.
Meeting of the Ministers of Economy of the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia is one of the more significant events organized by the SLO-CRO Business Club, held last year at the Mokrica Castle in Slovenia, near the border with Croatia. This was the first meeting of economy ministers of the two countries after a long time, in front of a large economic delegation on both sides of the border.
A reunion and the economic forum planned for March 2020 in Terme Tuhelj was postponed because of the pandemic.
A new reality – living with coronavirus and adaptability
On Wednesday, 01 July 2020, in Terme Tuhelj, the SLO-CRO Business Club organized the first meeting on the topic of coronavirus crisis. Guests at the panel coordinated by the President of the SLO-CRO Business Club, Dr Saša Muminović, were: Branko Roglić, President of Supervisory Board and owner of the Orbico Group, Davor Majetić, director of the Croatian Employers Association, and Matija Kopić, co-owner and founder of the Gideon Brothers start-up company. Magles from Celje and Meditex from Zabok implemented measures in accordance to recommendations of CNPHI. The coronavirus crisis was the main topic of conversation, and the central question for all the guests was how they coped with the crisis and what, according to them, the new reality brings.
Economy will not survive another lock down. We need to learn to live with the coronavirus – this is the new reality, Branko Roglić said. The guests agreed that the crisis has encouraged the development of digitalization of jobs, work is no longer tied to an office (remote), so the company’s costs are reduced, and it has also brought opportunities in the robotics and automation industry. The guests shared experiences and recommendations with members of the Club about how to do business in the corona crisis, as well as thoughts – how to proceed from here.
An extremely interesting meeting ended late in the afternoon with lunch and socializing on the terrace of the Mihanović castle.
Cybercrime and preventive measures, topic of the roundtable organized by SLO-CRO Business Club, is still an ongoing issue.
IT, security and police experts were guests of the round table on the topic of cybercrime. The experts’ message is that, since all of us users of digital technology are a potential target of cyber-attacks, this is why companies need to take care of security measures. “There are people whose job it is to look for errors in security systems for eight hours a day, so that they can get to valuable data of companies or individuals,” said Davor Kodrnja, representative of the global IT company Symantec.
That this is the case is confirmed by a recent public announcement made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs that organized criminal groups enter the companies’ e-mail correspondence and obtain high amounts of money through false messages and fraud. Criminals have been using this type of fraud for a long time and it is practically impossible to keep track of them.
Securing a company against a cyber-attack is a good solution, especially if the company is investing heavily in security. The amount of the premium largely depends on how much the company invests in protection and secure online business, stated Ognjen Radulovi
from MAI brokerage company.
Workforce trends before and after coronavirus
At the beginning of this year, SLO-CRO Business Club and Profil Grupa organized an extremely interesting business breakfast on the topic of workforce. Director of Croatian Profil Grupa Mirjana Pajas introduced us to trends in the field of recruitment. We heard a number of reasons as to why Croatia is just one step away from importing workers from eastern countries. Five months later, the situation is completely different, people and companies are out of work. However, once the coronavirus slows down, and the economy recovers – there is a strong chance that the problem will return.
Webinar: Digital marketing-trends you don’t want to miss out on
If you think that digital marketing can be done by one person – you are wrong. This area requires a wide range of different knowledge, so the more you invest in it – the more it comes back to you – said Simon Ferjuc, Director of Tetida, a member of the SLO-CRO Business Club. Webinar participants had the opportunity to hear a lot of practical advice and conclusions from various studies, in order to decide more easily what types of marketing are needed for their business. In this period where we are faced with coronavirus, understanding and using digital marketing is more important than ever.
Smart Tourism 5.0
Reflections, predictions and recommendations of tourism experts, consultants, bloggers and influencers on how to do business during the corona crisis were the topics of SMART TOURISM 5.0 virtual conference co-organized by SLO-CRO Business Club, which took place on a Tuesday, early May, with more than 1250 people attending it live from about 15 countries.
Ivana Kolar, initiator of SMART TOURISM 5.0 virtual meetings, said that it is primarily necessary to accept the changes, understand that some habits, demand and ultimately processes will change permanently, and that standards and rules of conduct should be prepared because the most important prerequisite for the arrival of a guest will be safety. “Whoever adapts to these changes first will have a significant market advantage” is her advice and conclusion of the first conference.
The Second Virtual Conference on tourism, held on 17 May 2020, brought together a number of experts from the region and 24 countries around the world to present business in the “new normal”.
Maja Pak, Director of Slovenian Tourist Board, also presented her vision of the current situation in tourism and predictions for the future of this sector: “I believe that support measures, supply adjustment and marketing will help the industry recover and that tourism will emerge from this crisis even more sustainable and more resistant.
What we know for sure is that tourists want to travel and we know what their biggest expectation is – the ability to reliably plan and spend their vacation safely, not far from home. The key question of the conference was whether the entire Region could now become an ideal destination for this year’s holiday in Europe, at least for markets within a radius of about 500 km? The statements and experiences of interlocutors at the conference, as well as the foreign media, confirm just that.”- conference organizer Ivana Kolar pointed out.
Triglav Osiguranje sponsor of Croatian national basketball team
A long-time member of the SLO-CRO Business Club Triglav Osiguranje has been a sponsor of the Croatian Basketball Association since last year. The SLO-CRO Business Club has prepared a conversation with the President of CBA Stojko Vrankovi
and the coach of the Croatian national basketball team Veljko Mršić in the beautiful new Hilton Garden Inn Hotel. A round table on the topic of economy in sports was chaired by sports journalist Marko Šapit, and Triglav Osiguranje launched a new TV spot with young Croatian basketball stars for the first time at the event.
Triglav Osiguranje also stepped up during the earthquake in Zagreb – and smoothly paid compensation to all its insured persons, whose property was damaged on that shocking morning.
SLO-CRO Business Club is financed through membership fees and by applying to the tender of the Slovenian Public Agency for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Development, Investment and Tourism – SPIRIT.
The support of our sponsors Intereuropa and Pošta Slovenije is also extremely important to us.
Intereuropa is celebrating over 60 years of doing business on the Croatian market. Successful work and a solid vision have brought the company to stable business growth. Intereuropa’s services were carried out unhindered, to the best of their ability, even during the biggest coronavirus crisis – with an effort to maintain the same quality of service and all the precautionary measures.
During the pandemic, Pošta Slovenija donated more than 35,000 protective masks to the Clinical Centre in Ljubljana and in Maribor and to the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief. Due to the growth of digital devices and the exceptional demand for cloud space on servers, Pošta Slovenija offered a free IT service and unlimited access to the Civil Protection Headquarters and the Arnes Institute for the purposes of the remote school.
We are extremely proud of our sponsors, who helped with their knowledge, abilities and courage during this difficult period.
For many companies, large and small businesses and individuals, the smooth operation of the post, post offices, parcel and goods delivery services were vital to maintaining the business during the corona crisis.
Web page of SLO-CRO Business Club: https://www.slo-cro-klub.hr/