Italy is Zagreb’s main trading partner (first supplier and purchaser), with trade exceeding €4 billion in 2007. Our exports are increasing (up 3.5%, over €2.8 billion – mainly in machinery and consumer goods) while imports have fallen by 10.8% (€1.4 billion). This trend was confirmed in the first 9 months of 2008, with Italian exports up 14.5% (€2.4 billion) and imports down 3.2% (€994 million).
The Croatian market provides notable investment opportunities for Italian businesses, mainly connected with the on-going privatisation process. The agri-food, manufacturing, tourism, energy, ship-building and construction sectors show considerable expansion prospects. Another sector undergoing strong development is infrastructure, in view not least of the ambitious plans being drawn up by the Croatian government to develop the transport and energy networks.
The banking/insurance sector has so far been the main sector attracting Italian investment (about 75%). Unicredit holds 82% of Zagrebacka Banka (Croatia’s leading bank) and Intesa-SanPaolo 76% of Privredna Banka (the country’s second bank). Gruppo Italiano Banco Popolare and Veneto Banca are also present.
Other significant Italian investment has focused on commerce (major distribution, retail and wholesale), the tourism-hotel sector, machinery and equipment manufacture, industrial gas production and gas distribution for domestic use, the textile sector and the wood and engineering industries.
Figures from the Croatian National Bank show that from 1993 to Q1 2008 the overall stock of direct Italian investment amounted to €958.6 million, or 5.2% of the total (7th investor country). To this should be added financial triangulation operations, which bring total Italian investment in Croatia to 10% of the total.