The leader of the HURS trade union federation, Ozren Matijasevic, said on Friday that in the past three years since joining the EU Croatia had failed to benefit from the EU's market of 500 million consumers and had increased imports and recorded job loss instead, thus becoming its own worst enemy.
"Over the last three years Croatia has imported around 3.5 times more fruit than it has exported, it has imported 7.5 times more poultry, the import of vegetables is five times higher than vegetable exports, jobs have been lost and 50,000 Croatians have emigrated to Germany alone. Thanks to its politicians' negligence, Croatia has become its own worst enemy," Matijasevic said at a news conference.
He said that the current situation was evidence of a lack of strategic planning and the right policies.
He stressed that the import of livestock products had increased from 212,000 tonnes in 2012 to 403,000 tonnes and that the negative balance in trade in livestock products totalled EUR 415 million.
"We can't say that politicians did nothing, they did a lot of damage. Proof of that is scheming with EU farm subsidies and we will submit documents on controversial payments to the relevant bodies," Matijasevic said, calling on politicians to start working and offer concrete solutions for strengthening domestic production.
He said agriculture and the food industry were among the few branches for which Croatia had the resources but that their potential was not being exploited at all.
The negative balance in trade in farm and food products has resulted in an increased emigration from traditionally farming regions, the reason being the long-lasting neglect of small farmers and favouring of import lobbies as well as corruption in the farm administration, said the union leader.