- Published: 04.11.2008.
Bilateral economic relations between Japan and the Republic of Croatia
Total commodity exchange of Croatia with the world in CY2007 amounted to 38,189 million USD, of which 12,360 million USD was export, while 25,829 million USD was import. Croatia's main export commodities are mineral fuels and oils (15%), ships boats and yachts (11%), electrical machines, equipment and parts (9%), machinery, appliances and parts (7%) and wood and wood articles (4)%. On the other hand, main import commodities are mineral fuels and oils (16%), machinery, appliances and parts (12%), vehicles and their parts (9%), electrical machines, equipment and parts (8%) and plastic and plastic products (4%). Croatia's main trading partners are Italy (17%), Germany (13%), Russia (7%), Slovenia (7%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (7%), Austria (6%) and China (4%). Commodity exchange between Croatia and Japan in CY2007 reached 486 million USD, and it represents 1.3% of Croatia's total commodity exchange, with export amounting to 69 million USD, and import amounting to 417 million USD. Croatia is exporting to Japan fresh or chilled fish (75%), frozen fish (18%), sawn wood (4%) and tanned or dressed fur skins (0.7%), while it is importing from Japan motor cars and vehicles (26%), printing machinery (10%), knitting and stitch-bonding machines (6%), transmission apparatus for radio-broadcasting or television (4%) and air-conditioners (4%). Looking at numbers, it can be said that the commodity exchange between Japan and Croatia is characterized by small amount and notable deficit on Croatian side. However, recently, and partly due to growing attractiveness of Croatia as a tourist destination for Japanese people, Croatian exporters, as well as Japan importers started to show stronger interest in specific Croatian products, mainly water, wine and olive oil. Very recently one of the most famous Croatian gassed mineral water Jamnica found its way to Japanese customers and form April 2008 can be found on the shelves of SEIYU supermarket chain. Moreover, several Croatian and Japanese companies are negotiating export of Croatian wine and olive oil to Japan, and we are hoping that in the very near future more Croatian products could be found on shelves of stores throughout Japan. Regarding investments, in 1999 Yazaki Corporation established center for research and development in Zagreb employing about 40 Croatian engineers, but up to date there are no Japanese investments in production. When Japanese companies started investing in Central and Eastern Europe in early 90's, there was a war against Croatia, and due to that unfortunate circumstances Croatia was overlooked by Japanese companies and became so the missing link in the chain of Japanese investments in that region. However, more than 10 years after the war the situation has completely changed, and today's Croatia is politically and economically stable, prosperous country, peaceful and secure. Actually, Zagreb, the administrative and business capital of Croatia, is renowned for having the lowest crime rate in Europe. Today Croatia is stability and security factor in the Southeast Europe region, which is proven by the fact that on April 3rd 2008 Croatia received official invitation to join NATO. Moreover, Croatia is making rapid progress toward EU, expecting the conclusion of the negotiations on the accession by the end of 2009. Both the joining of NATO and EU should give the message to Japanese investors that Croatia as a safe country, where their investment will be protected. In the light of this, Croatian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency published in March 2008 the first comprehensive investment guide in Japanese. Investment guide can be downloaded from Croatian web page located on the portal of the Japan Institute for Overseas Investment (JOI): http://www.joi.or.jp/croatia_j.html. On the same web page many useful information regarding investment climate and investment opportunities in Croatia, as well as the handouts of past Croatian investment seminars can be downloaded (all in Japanese). Sea transportation is one of the field where Japanese companies, mainly those that have production facilities located in the region of Central and South-eastern Europe, could have great interest. Namely, Port of Rijeka, the deepest port in Adriatic, offers the swiftest sea transport of goods from Japan and other Asian countries, through Suez Channel, to production facilities in Central and South-eastern Europe – in comparison to northern European ports up to 9 days can be saved. Aiming to became logistic center, Croatia is pushing forward with the reconstruction of Port of Rijeka's facilities, as well as the modernization and reconstruction of railway for the Port of Rijeka to the border with Hungary. Regarding the sea transport, it is worth noting that NYK – Nippon Yusen, one of the biggest Japanese shipping company, is extremely satisfied with 250 captains and officers they are employing on their most sophisticated vessels. Tourism is certainly one of the strongest links between Croatia and Japan. In 2007 more than 86,000 Japanese tourists visited Croatia, 33% more that the year before. On the other hand, period January-August 2008 saw a rise of 92% when compared to the same period of previous year. The attractiveness of Croatia for Japanese tourists is proven by the fact that JAL and JTB jointly organized four direct charter flights for Zagreb and Dubrovnik last year. These were also the first ever direct flights from Japan to Croatia. It is worth noting that all four flights were sold up in a matter of few days, which means that Croatia - with its 7 UNESCO sites, 8 National Parks and 11 Parks of Nature, with Dubrovnik, the Pearl of Adriatic of which Bernard Shaw once said: “Those who seek the paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik”, with famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau's referring to the Croatian Adriatic as the world's most beautiful sea, inside out – indeed is becoming very popular in Japan. Establishing of the representative office of Croatian National Tourism Board in Japan in January 2008 Croatia represents a turning point in Croatia's approach to Japanese market and the further growth of inbound tourist from Japan is expected. Tokyo, October 2008