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  CROATIA

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
56,400

Population
4,700,000

Capital
Zagreb

Currency
Kuna

President
Stipe Mesic

Private sector
% of GDP

55%

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Background:
In 1918, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia. Following World War II, Yugoslavia became an independent communist state under the strong hand of Marshal TITO. Although Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, it took four years of sporadic, but often bitter, fighting before occupying Serb armies were mostly cleared from Croatian lands. Under UN supervision the last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia in 1998.

Update No: 058

The Croats had a really troubled time in the1990s, a war with the Serbs and an appalling hangover of cronyism and dictatorship from the days of the former Yugoslavia. The economy fared badly. By sharing out state-owned assets and trading licences among its supporters the regime stifled investment, notably from abroad. But things are now looking up.
The key event was the death of Franjo Tudjman, the president, as if on cue to greet a new millennium, in December 1999. That cleared the way for a long overdue overhaul of the Croatian polity, without which none of the progress of the last two years would have been possible.
Elections were held in early 2000.Stipe Mesic won the presidency and Ivica Racan the premiership. Racan began a series of wide-ranging reforms.
The government has privatised key sectors and established 11 free trade zones. The country is after all potentially a tourist paradise on the Adriatic Sea with one of the best climates in the world. Its central location in the northern Balkans makes it the natural gateway to the whole region. Foreign investors have entered in droves, their sum total of commitment now reaching US$4.2bn.
The economy has consequently been faring rather well, with solid growth over the last two years, GDP rising 3.7% in 2000 and 4.2% in 2001.Inflation has come down, being only 2.8% on an annual basis in 2001. The reform process is well under way with international approval
The Croats still have loads of problems. The rate of unemployment, officially at 22%, yet almost certainly higher, is the biggest of them. The foreign trade sector, hit hard by a fall in tourism subsequent to 9:11, is also in a grave plight, exports barely covering 50% of imports. The national debt is in excess of US$11bn.
But the key thing is there are now genuine grounds for hope.

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AGRICULTURE

Croatian parliament adopts measures for privatisation of agricultural land


The Croatian parliament on 29th January adopted standards and criteria based on which 1.1 million hectares of agricultural land owned by the state will be privatised, HINA News Agency has reported.
The standards set the maximum areas which individuals and companies dealing with agriculture, stock or vines will be able to buy, envisages priorities for the purchase, and the process under which the land will be sold, etc...

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FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Austria leading investor in Croatia in 2001


Direct foreign investments in Croatia in the first nine months of 2001 amounted to US$717m, with more than 58 per cent of all investments coming from Austria, according to data the Croatian National Bank published on its web pages, HINA News Agency has reported .
The United States follows with 11.24 per cent, Germany with 4.6 per cent, Netherlands with 4.55 per cent and Slovenia with 4.21 per cent.
Between 1993 and last September direct foreign investments in Croatia reached US$5.87bn.
The majority of the investments in the said period focused on telecommunications and banking, with 22.39 per cent going into telecommunications and 20.17 per cent into the banking sector.
Another significant field of foreign investing in the past eight years has been the manufacturing of pharmaceutical preparations, accounting for 18.13 per cent of the investments.
Austria leads as to investments in the said eight year period as well, with 29.44 per cent, followed by the US with 20.29 per cent, and Germany with 19.64 per cent.

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FOREIGN LOANS & AID

Croatian centrist party seeks parliamentary discussion on relations with IMF


The president of the Democratic Centre (DC) party, Mate Granic, told a news conference on 28th January that Croatia should review its relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), HINA News Agency has reported.
Stressing that the conditions of the stand-by arrangement with the IMF were very strict, Granic warned about the experiences of other countries which have shown that those that blindly carried out the IMF orders fell into big crises, although he said the Argentinean case did not have to reoccur in Croatia. But, he added, this is why the government must be careful and should not enter another stand-by arrangement once this one expires.
"The government must have its own economic programme, and not allow the number of unemployed in Croatia to rise to 395,000 because of the IMF requests," Granic said, adding that the ruling coalition must first stabilise itself, initiate a parliamentary discussion on relations with the IMF, and tackle economic development more bravely. The DC, he said, has begun collecting signatures in parliament for a discussion on relations with the IMF.
DC secretary Slobodan Lang called on politicians to denounce the speech by Maja Freundlich from the Croatian Democratic Union who, according to the press, has threatened with trials against top officials, President Stjepan Mesic and Prime Minister Ivica Racan.

World Bank to invest US$1m in two Croatian counties

The World Bank will invest US$1m in a project of regional development in Zadar and Sibenik-Knin counties. Local communities should offer programmes and project which should be financed, World Bank officials told a news conference on 6th February, Hina News Agency, Zagreb has reported.

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