Croatian farming and food exports continued to grow last year, but at a lower rate than in previous years, the Croatian Chamber of Economy (HGK) warned in a press release on Friday.
Over the first ten months of 2018, compared with the same period in 2017, the country’s farming and food exports increased by 5 percent to €1.64 billion, while imports rose by 4 percent to €2.55 billion. Coverage of imports by exports increased from 63 to 64 percent in the same period.
In 2017, farming and food exports rose by 7.5 percent from 2016, when they had increased by nearly 13 percent from 2015.
“The fact that in the first nine months of 2018, compared with the same period of 2017, the growth of the agriculture trade deficit was halted is encouraging. However, this year’s deficit could still exceed €1 billion, which continues to be a concern,” HGK vice-president for agriculture and tourism, Dragan Kovacevic, said.
He added that Croatia still has large deficits in meat, milk, and dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
“This indicates a poor structure of Croatia’s farming production, and low productivity, but also the fact that we have yet to see effects of EU funding and rural development programmes,” Kovacevic said.
“In order to increase the volume of farming output and productivity, which is currently far below EU average, as is the absorption of funding for EU rural development programmes, Croatia’s farming sector needs to be regionalised to ensure a stronger role of subsidies in efforts to increase competitiveness,” he added.
Looking at overall international trade figures over the first ten months of 2018, exports increased by 5 percent from the same period in 2017, reaching €12 billion. At the same time, imports increased by 8 percent to €19.8 billion, with coverage of imports by exports dropping from 63 to 61 percent.
Within the overall trade volume, farming and food products accounted for 13 percent of all of Croatia’s exports, and 14 percent of the country’s imports, HGK said.