Fabian Demicoli

CROATIAN CHAMBER OF CRAFTS AND TRADES VISIT TO MALTA

The Croatian Chamber of Crafts and Trades, HOK, and The Maltese Chamber of Small and Medium Sized Enterprise, GRTU, on Wednesday 3rd May 2006, have signed a memorandum of understanding at Auberge de Castille, Valletta, at the office and in the presence of the Hon Dr Lawrence Gonzi, Prime Minister of Malta. The memorandum was signed by Mr Paul Abela, President of GRTU and Mr Stjepan Safran, President of HOK.

The signing of this agreement was the climax of the short but very compact and rewarding visit that the Croatian delegation held in Malta. The Croatian delegation was headed by the President of HOK, Mr Stjepan Safran, who was accompanied by Mr Natko Vlahovic, Advisor for International and EU Affairs at HOK, Mr Tonci Bozanic, President of Fisheries and Aquaculture Association at HOK, and Mr Romeo Mikicic, Vice President of Fisheries and Aquaculture Association of HOK.

The Croatian Chamber of Crafts and Trades and The Maltese Chamber of SME’s formally met each other in January 2006 in London at a conference of UEAPME, The European Association of Craft and small and medium sized enterprise, of which both chambers are active members.

Henceforth the relationship and possibility of co-operation between the two organizations developed. GRTU was invited to Croatia to actively participate in various workshops which HOK organized for its members in preparation of Croatia’s accession into the European Union, EU. Following this successful participation, GRTU was earmarked by its counterpart in Croatia to act as the body to assist HOK and its members in its pre and post accession process into the EU.

This resulted in the present visit to Malta by the Croatian delegation. The signing of the memorandum sets foot to a long term co-operation agreement between the said two bodies:

· To assist each other to develop in the best possible mode within the Union to the most advantageous manner for their individual members;
· To decipher the best opportunities that exist and that can be availed of from the European Union to the maximum benefit of the members of both organizations in Malta and Croatia.
· It was mutually agreed that GRTU would assist HOK in its negotiation process with the EU, through its contacts, know-how and practical experience that it gained in Malta’s pre and post accession process into the EU.

Furthermore, the agreement entered into by both parties goes long term, further to the Croatian accession to membership of the EU, in that GRTU and HOK have agreed that members of each chamber visiting the other country, will be hosted and treated same as if it were its own members, this to enable and further trading, economic and business opportunities between the SME’s of both Malta and Croatia.

This co-operation agreement strengthens and falls within the parameters of the initiative of the trade delegation visit held lately to Croatia which was headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon Michael Frendo, and the support at political level that Malta is giving Croatia in its accession process into EU.

During their visit to Malta, the said delegation also met among others, the Hon Michael Frendo, Dr Anthony Gruppetta from the Science Centre for Fisheries and Aquaculture, members of the Fish Co-Operative and Dr Simon Busuttil, Member of the European Parliament.

The delegation left Malta highly impressed with the local co-operation and hospitality of the Maltese shown by different strata of society, but also with much valuable and indispensable advice to enable them to take the plunge wisely in their negotiation deals with the 25 member states of the European Union.

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