Croatia’s EU membership promises exciting new export opportunities

This article was originally published by Today Translations’ Digital Marketing Manager, David Martin, for Open to Export.

On July 1st 2013, Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union, two decades after the country was torn apart by war as it fought for independence from Yugoslavia.

Since the early 1990s, the country has transformed from a centrally-planned economy into a war-transitional economy and finally into a free market economy. Despite the economic problems currently facing the EU, Croatia expects to see a positive further development in job-creation and the spurring of its agricultural potential.

For those of us looking in with keen eyes from the outside, the most tangible changes brought by Croatia’s ascension into the EU bloc is the lifting of customs controls from the country’s boarders with Slovenia and Hungary, ensuring the free crossing of people (good news for tourists) and goods (good news for exporters). Croatia will adopt the European Union’s common commercial policy, placing responsibility for trade policy on Brussels while being granted the right to trade freely with all other member states.

However, in recent years, the country has experienced negative growth, and with it an unemployment rate of a little over 20 per cent, only marginally better than either Spain or Greece. As a result, the EU has agreed to allocate structural and cohesion funds amounting to approximately 9 billion euros up to the year 2020, in a bid to jump start its economy, while providing a new series of opportunities for foreign investment and the supply of goods and services.

Of course, there will be obstacles to overcome. Croatia joins the EU as the bloc’s third poorest country, with many local businesses uncertain of what ascension will mean for their businesses.

On the other hand, though, it could present a number of fantastic trading opportunities and initiative.

Croatia can boast one of the most developed economies in Southeast Europe, as well as a skilled workforce and higher levels of education than its neighbours. State officials are looking to develop the country into a sophisticated, knowledge-based economy. Service and high-value-added industries, therefore, will most likely present the main investment opportunities, as opposed to manufacturing.

Croatia’s geography is also ideal for both the import and export of goods. It’s location is strategically practical, sitting at the point of intersection between the Western Europe – Asia and the Eastern European – Mediterranean trade route.

It also boasts six major seaports along the Adriatic Coast, and is the most favourable maritime transport destination for goods coming from Asia and the Oceanic region that travel through the Suez Channel.

Prior to Croatia’s ascension into the EU, the UK already exported almost £150m worth of goods to the country, mainly pharmaceutical products and transport equipment. But by leveraging Croatia’s free trade policies and its already-developed distribution channels, British brands now have a very interesting market space that they can fully tap into.

Today Translations a London translation company that provides fully project-managed language and business solutions. If you’d like to find out more about doing business in Croatia, or how to boost your company’s exposure in foreign markets, our team of regional advisers and project managers are on hand to help you. to find out more, get in touch with us at [email protected].