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French Key Companies Pledge To Boost Economic Ties With Croatia

Representatives of about 20 big French companies stressed their will to boost economic ties between the two countries during a two-day visit to Croatia ending March 28.

During their stay in Croatia the businessmen -- from companies including telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel, banking group, BNP Paribas and gas production Gaz de France -- met Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, President Stipe Mesic, Economy Minister Branko Vukelic and other relevant officials.

"European integration will bring to Croatia an increase of structural funds," construction company Bouygues' director, Charles de Paradis said. "We wish to take part in speeding up this development."

Economic ties between Paris and Zagreb have already entered a new phase after Croatia opened membership talks with the European Union in October 2005, said Francois-Xavier Ortoli, honorary chairman of the French' employers' group MEDEF International.

French companies have about 50 branch offices in Croatia, which is a 6% increase during the past three years, according to the French embassy figures.

In 2005 French exports to Croatia amounted to 436 million euros (US$524 million), covering 4.2% of the Balkan country's market. During the same period French imports from Croatia totaled 125 million euros (US$150 million).

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

TAGS: Trade
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