Largest Free Economic Zone in Croatia Closing Down

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The free economic zone in Varaždin was larger than the remaining 11 put together.

After the New Year, just 11 free economic zones will operate in Croatia, since the government approved the abolition of the largest free economic zone in Croatia, at Trnovec Bartolovečki near Varaždin, reports Večernji List on December 31, 2016.

A similar request was accepted last year from the Đuro Đaković Free Economic Zone in Slavonski Brod, whose users noted that, after Croatia’s accession to the European Union, business conditions have changed and they no longer had economic reasons to do business in the free economic zone regime which now brings them smaller benefits.

How many of the remaining free economic zones in Croatia will continue to operate will mostly depend on their users and their orientation towards overseas markets. After Croatia’s accession to the European Union, the advantages of free economic zones are mainly seen in business dealings with non-European markets.

According to a report on the operations of free zones debated by the government, about 53 percent of exports are sold to the European Union. It is interesting that at the free economic zones located in ports, in places like Ploče, Rijeka, Škriljevo and Split, exports are predominantly sold to the so-called third markets, such as China, United States, India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Russia, and also to neighbouring countries which are not part of the EU. In the so-called “in-land” zones, almost 62 percent of exports are sold to EU countries while, on the other hand, in zones located in ports just 10 percent of exports goes to other EU member states.

According to the report for 2015, there were 137 companies with 7,739 employees operating in all 12 free economic zones in Croatia. Of this number, as many as 4,500 employees worked at the Varaždin free zone. In 2015, companies located in the Varaždin zone had the total income of more than three billion kuna, while in all the zones together it was 5.5 billion kuna. The zones recorded an increase in revenues by nearly 7 percent in 2015, and the highest increase was recorded in the zones in Osijek and Rijeka.

Varaždin was the clear leader in exports as well. Companies located there had exports worth 2.8 billion kuna, while all other zones exported goods worth around one billion kuna.


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