ECONOMY

State investment lifts Croatia’s growth rate

ZAGREB (Reuters) – Croatia’s economy grew a healthy 5.2 percent in 2002, and growth in the last quarter of the year came in well above analyst expectations at 5.9 percent. «This is well over our Q4 forecast,» said Raiffeisen Bank chief analyst Ante Zigman after data were released yesterday. «We were expecting some 4.0 percent,» he said, adding the difference was most likely accounted for by higher state investments. The former Yugoslav republic’s gross domestic product had grown altogether 3.7 percent in 2001, while, in the third quarter of 2002, it rose 6.5 percent, fueled by high consumer spending, tourism revenues and state investments. However, Zigman said such a rate could hardly be sustained this year, although he predicted further growth. «It will be hard, or almost impossible, to top this year,» he said. «Our prediction for 2003 is growth at around 3.5 percent, while the Finance Ministry is counting on 5.0 percent annual growth,» Zigman told Reuters. He said he would not significantly revise his forecast because of the war in Iraq. «There will be some changes because the crude oil price will most probably fall but I still believe this year’s growth will remain at around 3.5 percent,» he said.