It covers payment methods and information on, banking systems, foreign exchange controls, and U.S. and correspondent banking.
Methods of Payment
Croatian importers utilize most of the standard payment methods available in international trade. American exporters should offer quotations based on the FOB (Free on Board) value at the port of export. As a general rule, such quotations should also include a statement of the actual charges for freight and insurance plus any additional charges to the port of delivery. Quotations are usually provided in the currency of the country of origin. The terms of payment for imported goods vary according to the type of buyer and the buyer’s access to capital. Large organizations such as the government or energy companies tend to transact business on a sight-draft basis, while small companies tend to operate on documents against acceptable terms. Payment between 80 and 120 days after acceptance is most common, but terms may vary between 30 and 180 days. For larger orders of capital equipment, longer terms are often required. It is advisable to ship on a letter of credit, sight letter of credit, or 30-day letter of credit basis that the importer can use as a negotiating instrument to expedite the payment transfer. The payment transfer can be affected within 24 to 48 hours after the importer presents a valid import permit and proper documents to his or her bank. Collection agencies are often used by banks, telecoms, and other large companies to collect outstanding debts. The number of collection agencies has grown significantly in the past four years, and the Croatian Association of Collection Agencies includes some of the largest agencies in Croatia. Visa, Mastercard and Diners are the most popular credit cards.
For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide available at www.trade.gov/trade-finance-guide-quick-reference-us-exporters.
Banking is considered to be one of the strongest sectors of the Croatian economy, primarily thanks to efficient regulation and relatively disciplined borrowers.
During the economic crisis of 2008, the banking sector played an important role in maintaining stability and later recovery. The Croatian Central Bank also promptly undertook measures to mitigate the economic consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the key measures included sale of euro currency to maintain a stable exchange rate and reducing the reserve requirement from 12% to 9% to increase liquidity. The full list of measures is available on the Central Bank’s website.
The Croatian banking sector includes twenty banks and three home saving banks with predominately foreign ownership (90.2%). Eleven of the foreign-owned banks are owned by shareholders from the European Union. In addition to the domestic banking institutions, almost 150 institutions from the European Union provide some services in Croatia.
The Croatian banking system is comparable to other Central and Eastern European countries. Croatia’s total capital ratio is above the European Union average, which should make the banking system relatively stable and recession resistant. However, interest rates are high and there is a high proportion of foreign-currency denominated loans in Croatia as compared to the eurozone. The Croatian National Bank has addressed this issue in the past by increasing deposit requirements and encouraging banks to make loans in the local currency.
The Croatian National Bank (CNB) is the independent regulator established in 1990. Its primary objective is to maintain price stability and the stability of the financial system as a whole, by means of monetary and exchange rate policies, issuing money, and maintaining national monetary reserves. The CNB also regulates and supervises credit institutions, issues and revokes their licenses, and manages the interbank Real Time Gross Settlement System. The instruments of monetary policy at the CNB’s disposal are market operations (repo and reverse repo auctions), intra-day and overnight Lombard loans, the mandatory reserve requirement, CNB bills auctions and short-term liquidity loans. In order to manage the exchange rate, the CNB uses daily auctions and the minimum mandatory FX requirement. The CNB participates in the European Union project Single Euro Payments Area – SEPA, with the aim to create a single market for payment services to enable citizens, business entities and public authorities to make cashless euro payment transactions under the same basic conditions, rights, and obligations, regardless of their location.
The CNB became an integral part of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) on July 1, 2013 with Croatian accession to the European Union. In 2018, Croatia met the Maastricht requirements and on July 10, 2020 was admitted to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II. The exchange rate of the Croatian kuna is now set at 1 euro = 7.53450 kuna. Croatia has to be in ERM II for at least two years in order to adopt the euro as the official currency.
The interests of the banking sector are represented by the Croatian Banking Association (HUB) and the Banking Association within the Croatian Chamber of Economy (HGK). More information on the Croatian banking sector and individual banks can be found at Banks Bulletin (https://www.hnb.hr/en/analyses-and-publications/regular-publications/banks-bulletin).
Foreign Exchange Controls
The Croatian National Bank intervenes in the market from time-to-time to ensure stability of the currency and maintain a crawling peg to the euro. There are no administrative foreign exchange controls.
US Banks & Local Correspondent Banks
There are currently no U.S. banks operating in Croatia. U.S. private equity investor Advent International Corporation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development acquired over 50% of Hypo Alpe Adria Bank in 2015 (its banks in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro are now operating as Addiko Bank). The Croatian National Bank publishes the list of all licensed banks and representative offices (https://www.hnb.hr/temeljne-funkcije/supervizija/popis-kreditnih-institucija).