Croatian agriculture and food exports boomed last year, according to official figures.
At the same time, imports fell – though still outstripped in value Croatia’s exports.
Provisional data from the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics puts the total value of Croatian agriculture and food exports between January to September last year at €1.7 billion (£1.5 billion) – an increase of five per cent from the same period in 2019.
During the same nine month period some €2.5 billion (£2.2 billion) worth of agricultural goods and food items were imported – though that was still a decline of 7.3 per cent on the previous year.
The two performances taken together means Croatia’s trade deficit in agriculture and food decreased by more than a quarter at 26.6 per cent year or year.
Exports from agriculture and food production sectors make up almost 16 per cent of the country’s total exports, of which corn accounted for 5.4 per cent.
Indeed, the export of cereals generated €205.4 million (£184.4 million), up some €62.6 million (£56.2 million), while food products, including manufactured and processed items such as sauces, soups and ice cream, grossed €168 million.
Exports of live animals also increased by €10.1 million.
The fish and seafood sector also did well in the export market, up €14.5 million to €147.4 million (£132.4 million).
Germany remains central to the Croatian economy in that its takes the largest share of its exports and in return German produce makes up a huge part of its imports.
Italy, however, is now also emerging as one of Croatia’s best customers, taking some €300 million worth of its agricultural and food output – up 22 per cent on the previous year, with maize, wheat and soybeans, tobacco products, sea bass and bream the most important items
Overall, Italian imports amounted to almost 18 per cent of Croatia’s total exports.
By contrast, Italy’s exports to Croatia fell by more than 16 per cent to €263 million over the same January-September period.
Last month the government in Zagreb voted to declare an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), to be confirmed this month, between Croatia, Italy and Solvenia.
Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said that “an understanding has been reached” in discussions with his Slovenian and Italian counterparts that Croatia and Italy would declare an EEZ after a trilateral meeting in January 2021.
Grlic Radman added that they would also discuss strengthening cooperation in the Adriatic area, with the aim of its environmental protection and blue economy management.
Agriculture Minister Marija Vuckovic said that the EEZ would further improve an already “deep, lately even excellent cooperation with Italy” on the issues of fishing fleets and resource management.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the EEZ would, compared with the existing Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP) declared in 2003, bring two new rights – the construction of artificial islands and the use of the power of the sea, wind and currents.
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs last week said that the declaration of the EEZ was the result of implementation of the common fisheries policy of Croatia and Italy, as well as of cooperation in the field of environmental protection.
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