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 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 35.3% gain since 2015 and a 1% increase from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Croatian kuna appreciated by 3.4% against the US dollar since 2015 but declined by -5.5% from 2018 to 2019. Croatia’s weaker local currency since 2018 makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers during 2019.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 73.9% of products exported from Croatia were bought by importers in: Italy (13.8% of the global total), Germany (12.9%), Slovenia (10.5%), Bosnia/Herzegovina (10.1%), Austria (5.8%), Serbia (5.3%), Hungary (4%), France (2.9%), United States (2.7%), Belgium (2.6%), Spain (1.8%) and Romania (1.6%).
From a continental perspective, 89.4% of Croatia’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 5% were sold to importers in Asia. Croatia shipped another 3% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (1.3%), Oceania led by Marshall Islands and Australia (1%) then Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.2%).
Given Croatia’s population of 4.1 million people, its total $17.4 billion in 2019 exported goods translates to roughly $4,300 for every resident in the European nation.
Croatia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Croatian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Croatia.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.7 billion (9.5% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $1.4 billion (8.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.4 billion (8.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $1.4 billion (7.8%)
- Vehicles: $972.3 million (5.6%)
- Wood: $923.8 million (5.3%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $575.4 million (3.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $571 million (3.3%)
- Aluminum: $541.9 million (3.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $518.3 million (3%)
Croatia’s top 10 exports accounted for 57.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 28.1% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was vehicles via a 23.5% gain. Croatia’s shipments of plastics including articles made from plastic posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 6.4%.
The leading decliner among Croatia’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -8.9% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Croatia’s most valuable exported products are refined petroleum oils (6.6% of total). That category was trailed by medication mixes in dosage (3.9%), blood fractions including antisera (also 3.9%), sawn wood (2.5%), cars (also 2.5%), cruise or cargo ships (1.9%), automobile parts or accessories (1.8%) then electrical converters or power units (also 1.8%).
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$517 million (Down by -7.5% since 2018)
- Cereals: $149.3 million (Up by 7.3%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $132.3 million (Down by -8.5%)
- Ships, boats: $112.7 million (Up by 83.5%)
- Oil seeds: $108.7 million (Up by 15.5%)
- Fertilizers: $107 million (Up by 25.8%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $71.6 million (Down by -0.2%)
- Arms, ammunition: $51.6 million (Down by -60.4%)
- Railways, streetcars: $46.1 million (Down by -23.4%)
- Glass: $40.3 million (Up by 16%)
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 -$10.6 billion trade deficit during 2019, down -2.4% from -$10.9 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$1.8 billion (Down by -10.8% since 2018)
- Vehicles: -$1.4 billion (Down by -4.2%)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.2 billion (Up by 6.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$733.3 million (Down by -12.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$680.3 million (Down by -6.3%)
- Iron, steel: -$428.6 million (Down by -4.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$365 million (Up by 7.1%)
- Meat: -$352.4 million (Up by 2.4%)
- Other chemical goods: -$280.2 million (Up by 4.9%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$252.2 million (Up by 6.9%)
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Croatia’s total exported goods represent 15.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($112.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 15.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 16.2% for 2018. This suggests a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Croatia’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Croatia’s average unemployment rate was 9% for 2019 down from 9.858% one year earlier, according to the International Monetary Fund.
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
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Europe: Croatia. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 25, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 25, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 25, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Wikipedia, Croatia. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Croatia. Accessed on March 25, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 25, 2020