Established in July 2012, the Hungarian-Croatian Section of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry aims to foster economic and trade relations between the two countries and serve the economic interests of their entrepreneurs. In addition, the Section is responsible for supporting and lobbying in favor of Hungarian-owned companies operating in Croatia and Hungarian companies interested in conducting business with Croatian companies.
The Section was founded by 21 entrepreneurs and now, it has 61 member companies. “We have members from the whole country, however, the dominant participating companies are from Baranya and Somogy counties situated on the border with Croatia. Members include enterprises from various fields like the agrarian and IT sectors, machinery, trade, building industry, etc.,” the General Secretary of the Hungarian-Croatian Section, Mihály Liszácz tells Diplomacy&Trade.
Membership in the Section is beneficial for ventures interested, or already engaged, in cross-border co-operation. One example for such HU-HR projects is the ‘B-Light Interreg V-A HungaryCroatia Co-operation Program 2014-2020’ (“Fostering value added business cooperation between SMEs operating on different sides of the Hungary-Croatia border”). The General Secretary says they use several resources that could help to achieve profitable networking opportunities for the members and find relevant business partners both from Hungary and Croatia.
The Section is in daily contact with the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) that helps businesses innovate and grow on an international scale. It is the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with international ambitions. The EEN is active in more than 60 countries worldwide, including Croatia. It brings together 3,000 experts from more than 600 member organizations – all renowned for their excellence in business support. Furthermore, the Section takes part in trade fairs, where its president performs not only protocol tasks, but also represents the partner companies.
According to Mihály Liszácz, the most effective parts of the Section’s activities are the organization and participation at international matchmaking events. The most popular of these events is the Open4Business Conference and International Matchmaking Event organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pécs-Baranya and EEN. 2019 was the fourth time companies looking for international partnership met in Pécs to negotiate with their future business partners.
There were nearly 400 meetings by 271 participants from 15 countries. This year, the co-organizer of the Open4Business was the Croatian TERA Tehnopolis Ltd., a joint-venture by the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, the City of Osijek and the Osijek-Baranja County. The activities of the Center focus on the development of knowledge-based economy implementing significantly improved technologies (products, services and processing), the commercialization of publicly funded research conducted by the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, and the protection of intellectual property rights.
“From the Hungarian side, we enjoy serious support from the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of Pécs-Baranya county and the CCI of Somogy county. In the B-Light project, we have a good partnership with the Baranya County Development Agency. Last but not least, we are in continuous contact with the Consulate General of the Republic of Croatia in Pécs,” the General Secretary points out. He adds that their main Croatian partners are mainly from the Enterprise Europe Network offices in Croatia, for example, TERA Tehnopolis Ltd., but the Section also maintains good relations with the local chambers and the Consulate General of Hungary in Osijek.
Recently, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pécs-Baranya has had two Hungarian-Croatian projects: I-DARE and EN-EFF. I-DARE focused on the development of dual training and introduction of tertiary systems in the field of mechanical engineering and electrical engineering professions and EN-EFF dealt with the development of a new training concept for energy efficiency. The Section’s current project, SACHE (‘Smart Accelerators of Cultural Heritage Entrepreneurship’) works with Croatian partners to develop and deliver integrated local development strategies based on tools and approaches that would accelerate creative entrepreneurship within and around cultural heritage. The Hungarian-Croatian Section provides help to the project management to facilitate the cross-border co-operation in these HU-HR projects.
“The above mentioned projects (I-DARE, EN-eff, SACHE and B-Light) are supported by the European Union. Many of the trade fairs (Viro-Expo) and matchmaking events (Open4Business, LEAP Summit Zagreb) are also EU related. The activities with the EEN to find business partners works not only within the EU, but all over the world in more than 60 countries,” Mihály Liszácz points out. There also are, of course, events of smaller scale involving the two countries. In 2019, the Section co-organized the HU-HR IT Professional Day in the framework of InnoPécs, where the main organizer was the Information Management Innovation Cluster. Another important event was the Tourism Conference in the town of Siklós, where participants from the tourism sector met to discuss the connection and development points in Baranja (Croatia) and Baranya (Hungary) counties.
Joint project plans
The Section is striving to expand the circle of its membership in the whole country not only near the Croatian border. “At the same time, we continue to represent enterprises on international platforms and assist in finding Croatian-Hungarian business partners. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pécs-Baranya has submitted three project proposals of Hungarian-Croatian dimension that have not yet been evaluated. The main themes of these are sustainable tourism and women entrepreneurs. We hope that they will be successful and we can promote and manage these future projects,” the General Secretary concludes.