LNG Terminal "Star" of 2021's Exports, Slovenia Main Market for First Time

By 15 March 2022

March the 15th, 2022 - Krk's LNG terminal contributed enormously to Croatia's export ''cake'' last year, with neighbouring Slovenia becoming the main market for the very first time.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, double-digit export growth rates, published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) for the first month of this year (44 percent) and last year (28 percent), used to be just a pope dream, and although there are reasons for joy and many good developments, there isn't much space for any euphoria quite yet.

Such a percentage jump was largely due to the low comparative base, due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown in the first part of 2020 and tumbling oil and gas prices, ie the recovery of the global economy and the price jump in terms of energy costs last year.

However, the manufacturing industry has "accumulated" a record 15.4 billion euros in revenue from foreign markets and there is almost no activity that isn't now growing, and there is some good news for export statistics, too. Two events definitely marked last year, when it comes to exports - the role of LNG Croatia (the LNG terminal on Krk) and the first time in which Slovenia rose to the position of the top Croatian export market.

State statistics have recorded a real explosion when it comes to both electricity and gas exports - in just one single year the jump was as much as 421 percent, and in absolute numbers, more than a billion euros worth of the above commodities were exported.

It seems that the Krk LNG terminal contributed the most, whose imported gas quantities remained here in Croatia, and this released significant quantities of gas from other sources, primarily from Russia, which were then exported to other countries. It isn't clear from the CBS data to which countries these quantities were placed, but a visible trace of their origin is left on the import data, due to the strong growth of imports from the USA, Nigeria and Egypt.

Neighbouring Slovenia, on the other hand, ascended the export throne in the last month of last year, and judging by earlier estimates from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), the previous item from the statistical records is also crucial for such a result. In total, goods worth 2.43 billion euros were exported to Slovenia from Croatia, which is an increase of 58 percent when compared to the previous year. Just one year earlier, exports to the Slovenes weakened compared to pre-pandemic 2019 by 5.6 percent.

The neighbouring countries of Slovenia and Croatia are very focused on each other and are, as a rule, each other's third export market, but Slovenian figures are still enviable for Croatia, despite the fact that last year they had weaker export growth and significantly higher import growth than Croatia did. Last year, Slovenian exports increased by almost 20 percent and exceeded 39 billion euros, while imports, with almost 31 percent growth, amounted to 42 billion euros. Croatia was Slovenia's fourth export market, but even with high export growth, it wasn't among the top five markets from which it imports goods.

According to the SBS, Slovenia mostly imports from Germany, Italy, Switzerland, China and Austria, and their main export markets are Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and along with Croatia, Austria. Croatia's five main customers, along with Slovenia, are Italy, which just last year began to return to the first position, which it briefly handed over to Germany in 2020, and in both exports exceed 2 billion euros, while Hungary is in fourth position, with Bosnia and Herzegovina coming in fifth.

Croatia also exports more than a billion euros to nearby Austria, and a record result has been achieved on the markets of neighbouring Serbia and across the Atlantic over in the United States. Trade is also growing with Turkey, and it is interesting to note that, contrary to earlier data, the year ended with an increase in exports to China, but also a decline in imports on an annual basis. It's worth noting that the Republic of Croatia imports the most from Germany, out of a total of 28.3 billion euros, 4.2 billion came from that country, followed by Italy, Slovenia, Austria and then by China.

In the currently two most sensitive markets, Russia and Ukraine, Croatia ended the year before the crisis with 204 million euros of exports to Russia and 58 million to Ukraine, with exports to Russia growing and being the largest in six years, while in Ukraine the placement of goods was by 0.9 percent below the level recorded back during the previous year, and those two years were record years for Croatian exports to Ukraine.

Given the events of the current war and harsh sanctions against Russia, it is certain that the figures on the import side with these warring countries will remain high for Croatia; Last year, 463 million euros worth of goods entered Croatia from Russia, and 44 million came from Ukraine.

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