More food exports by Croatia will be safe as its consumer protection policies will be up to European Union standards.

Those are among the findings of a new World Trade Organization (WTO) review of Croatia’s trade policies.  WTO says since its independence in 1991, Croatia has gradually been opening up its trade and investment toward its strategic goal of acceding to the EU.

Croatia has experienced high GDP growth, relatively low inflation, and declining fiscal deficits.  It was hurt by the global slowdown in 2009, and still has problems with debt.

And while small, the report makes it clear that it expects growth in both its agriculture and fisheries sectors to follow its entry to the EU.  Further, its food and beverage sector has 1,300 companies employing 50,000 employees.  Croatia’s main food and beverage exports have been sugar and cigarettes.

But there should be no worries when it comes to food safety.  The WTO says “Croatia has developed an efficient system of consumer protection, which today is in line with all the international standards applicable in this area.”

The Republic of Croatia became the 140th WTO member in 2000.  It has joined NATO, served as the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, and is currently working on its “Accession Treaty” with the EU.

According to the WTO report, Croatia’s diverse climate, landforms, and soils are favorable for agriculture.  As of May 2009, the country had 190,672 farms, but most are small and lack irrigation systems.  Overall productivity is low.

Nevertheless, Croatia is a net exporter of cereals from corn, wheat and barley crops.  Its sugar beet crop makes sugar its biggest export.  Fruits and vegetables are also produced in significant quantities.

Croatia also grows oil seeds and some tobacco.

Livestock producers were, as of 2007, raising 467,000 head of cattle and 1.35 million pigs.  Most producers have ten or fewer head.

At this point, Croatia is a net importer of meat and milk.

“The report makes clear, nevertheless, that continuation of its structural reforms, such as further improving its business environment, will be key to strengthening Croatia’s resilience to shocks, sustaining growth, attracting investment, and improving productivity,” WTO says.

Croatia, once part of the failed Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia, declared its independence in 1991.