While it often seems like the world is getting smaller and finding a hidden investment jurisdiction is becoming more difficult, there are still pockets of the world where it is possible to find a sound investment before everyone else realises its full potential.
Croatia is just such a place. With its competitive and affordable workforce, geographic centrality, and dozens of other perks, Croatia is worth having a look at. Here are a few reasons to consider it.
1. Tourists Already Know Its Value
Beautiful weather, over 1,000 islands, and 6,000 km of coastline along the crystal clear Adriatic Sea make Croatia one of the world’s best holiday destinations. Its affordability, too, has added it to the must-see locations in Europe for tourists.
It’s surprising when you look at the numbers. Each year, more international tourists visit Croatia than, for example, Australia: in 2016, 16.6 million global tourists visited Croatia, while Australia saw 8.3 million in the same year.
And Croatia is serious about investing in tourism: it expects that €7 billion will be invested in hotel construction and renovation, convention centres, campsites, nautical tourism harbours, and theme parks by 2020.
Tourism accounts for 12.5% of Croatia’s GDP (in comparison to 2.7% of Australia’s GDP), which indicates that tourism is one of the most lucrative Croatian industries to invest in.
2. The Workforce is Talented, Affordable, and Multilingual
As English is often the preferred language for global investments, Croatia is worth a second look: 49% of the population speaks English (compare that to India, where 12% of the population speaks it).
Additionally, 34% of the Croatian population speaks German, and 14% Italian, making its population remarkably multilingual: a key factor for many businesses.
Finally, Croatia’s population is innovative: the tie, the ballpoint pen, the parachute, the tungsten light bulb, the torpedo, the azithromycin antibiotic, the electronic speedometer, dactyloscopy (finger printing), the MP3 player, and the world's fastest electric car (Rimac Automobili), to name a few, were all created by Croatians.
3. All of Europe is Accessible within Three Hours or Less
Croatia is the gateway to 500 million consumers living in Europe. International airports in cities such as Zagreb, Split, and Dubrovnik have experienced significant increases in activity in recent years, carrying both passengers and cargo around the world, and all of Europe is reachable in three hours or less.
Three significant Pan-European corridors run through Croatia, connecting it to Western and Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean.
Major airlines that fly to Croatia include the domestic Croatia Airlines (member of the Star Alliance), Air France, Aeroflot, British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, Finnair, Austrian Airlines, KLM, Qatar Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, and Turkish Airlines. A number of budget European airlines also operate during seasonal peak times.
Croatia’s geo-strategic location in Central and South East Europe, on the border between the east and west, as well as its location on the Adriatic Sea, and especially its ports, make it highly appealing to the business market.
4. Its Modern Transportation Infrastructure
Business shipping and logistics require easy-to-navigate highways and transportation channels, and Croatia is proud of its infrastructure. Its highways are modern and effective, and its six primary seaports are ready to accept and send off global cargo shipments. Additionally, its nine international airports connect the country to the entire world.
Croatia is currently investing heavily in its seaports, including developing the port of Vukovar and extending the Port of Zadar’s cargo terminal, as well as other upgrades and expansions.
Croatia has invested in developing its Pan-European transport network to facilitate connections with other European cities, and will continue to invest in its transportation, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure.
5. The Benefits of Doing Business from an EU Country
As the newest member of the European Union, Croatia now has access to the rest of the EU and the business opportunities that it provides. Businesses can import and export goods within the EU without restrictions, opening up the greater part of the European market with little effort.
Additionally, Croatia has access to €1 billion of the EU Structural Funds each year, much of which is used to promote entrepreneurship. Foreign investors who set up businesses in Croatia have equal access as domestic companies to compete for those funds.
6. There are Few Barriers to Foreign Investors
Whether a country makes it easy for foreigners to get involved in business dealings is a huge consideration when deciding to invest in a country’s economic environment. Unlike in many countries, foreign investors can hold up to 100% interest in the shares of a Croatian company, with a few exceptions. There is no obligation to declare, except for the acquisition of public joint stock companies.
7. Croatia Offers Appealing Tax Incentives
A country’s tax structure often factors into a business’ decision to invest there or not. With up to 0% profit tax up to 10 years in designated free trade zones, no customs for all EU member states, double taxation avoidance agreements with 55 countries, and cash incentives of up to €9,000 for each new job created, Croatia’s tax incentives are appealing to global businesses.
Overall, Croatia is increasingly becoming attractive for business investments: it’s affordable, has pro-business legislation, is populated by talented citizens, is not oversaturated with global investors (yet), and is geographically desirable.
About the Author
David Grabovac is the author of the book Croatia & Its People, has held various executive roles within Croatian NGO’s, and is a member of the international business community. In December 2000, the Australian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce recognized his work with its Recognition and Achievement Award.