Located at the juncture of Central with Southeast Europe and surrounded by Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia plus Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia shipped US$17.4 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 25.5% gain since 2014 and a 10.4% increase from 2017 to 2018.
The latest data shows that 69% of products exported from Croatia were bought by importers in: Italy (14.4% of the global total), Germany (13%), Slovenia (10.9%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (9.4%), Austria (6.4%), Serbia (4.9%), Hungary (3.4%), France (2.6%), United States (2.3%) and Belgium (1.8%).
From a continental perspective, 88.7% of Croatian exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 6.2% was sold to Asian importers. Smaller percentages were sent to buyers in Africa (1.6%), Latin America (0.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia.
Given Croatia’s population of 4.3 million people, its total $17.4 billion in 2018 exported goods translates to roughly $4,100 for every resident in the European nation.
In macroeconomic terms, Croatia’s total exported goods represent 16.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($107.4 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 16.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 19.3% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Croatia’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Croatia also provided $16.6 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 15.4% of GDP in PPP. These metrics include a significant amount of re-exporting activity.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Croatia’s unemployment rate was 7.5% at May 2019 down from 9.2% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
Croatia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Croatian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Croatia.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.9 billion (10.7% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $1.5 billion (8.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.4 billion (8.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $1.1 billion (6.1%)
- Wood: $970.1 million (5.6%)
- Vehicles: $809 million (4.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $577.4 million (3.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $566 million (3.3%)
- Aluminum: $512.7 million (3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $497.4 million (2.9%)
Croatia’s top 10 exports accounted for 56.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Exports from Croatia related to vehicles posted the fastest gain in value, up 33.4% from 2017 to 2018.
Croatian wood placed second thanks to its 12.9% improvement, trailed by mineral fuels including oil with its 10.3% uptick.
The two declining categories among top Croatian exports were pharmaceuticals (down -16.5%) and furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings (down -4.3%).
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Croatia’s most valuable exported products are refined petroleum oils (7.7% of total). That category was trailed by medication mixes in dosage (3.8%), sawn wood (2.7%), blood fractions including antisera (2.2%), electrical converters or power units (1.9%), automobile parts or accessories (1.9%), electrical energy (1.8%), cars (1.7%), knit or crochet stockings and hosiery (1.4%) then insulated wire or cable (also 1.4%).
The following types of Croatian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports reflect the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Wood: US$556.2 million (Up by 6.1% since 2017)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $143 million (Up by 5.7%)
- Live animals: $141 million (Reversing a -$38.7 million deficit)
- Cereals: $137.8 million (Up by 26.3%)
- Arms, ammunition: $126.6 million (Up by 39.8%)
- Oil seeds: $92.6 million (Down by -26%)
- Fertilizers: $84.8 million (Down by -12.3%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $71.2 million (Down by -16.8%)
- Ships, boats: $61.9 million (Down by -55.2%)
- Fish: $59.9 million (Up by 25.2%)
Croatia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of lumber. In turn, these cashflows indicate Croatia’s strong competitive advantages under the wood product category.
Overall Croatia incurred a -$10.7 billion trade deficit during 2018, up 22.2% from -$8.8 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Croatia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Croatia’s goods trail Croatian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$1.9 billion (Up by 21.5% since 2017)
- Vehicles: -$1.5 billion (Up by 20.7%)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.1 billion (Up by 12%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$831.6 million (Up by 52.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$733.6 million (Up by 16.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$438 million (Down by -1.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$339.6 million (Down by -8.9%)
- Meat: -$337.7 million (Down by -0.5%)
- Other chemical goods: -$267.2 million (Up by 33.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$250.3 million (Reversing a $132.7 million surplus)
Croatia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels including oil, particularly crude oil and petroleum gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Croatia’s competitive disadvantages in the international fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Croatia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations particularly in alternative energy sources.
Croatian Export Companies
Not one of Croatia’s corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list exporters from Croatia. Selected examples are shown below:
- Efke (photographic papers, chemicals)
- Koestlin (biscuits, other confectionery products)
- Podravka (food)
- Rimac Automobili (electric vehicles)
- Vindija (dairy products)
- Viro (refined sugar)
Zagreb is the capital city of the Republic of Croatia.
See also Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Top 10 Exports, Germany’s Top 10 Exports and United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 23, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 2, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 23, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on July 2, 2019
Wikipedia, Croatia. Accessed on March 23, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 2, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Croatia. Accessed on March 23, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 2, 2019