Tensions leading to the blockade of trucks for a few days at the border between Croatia and Serbia arose this month. At first, Serbian trucks were stopped at the Croatian border because, according to Croatian PM Milanovic, Serbia had been “sending refugees only to Croatia, in an organised way, in agreement with Hungary”. A few days later, Serbia retaliated by imposing a ban on Croatian trucks or trucks transporting Croatian goods from crossing the border. The blockade was finally lifted on most crossing points when both countries experienced pressure from Brussels and other European capitals.

Impact on country risk

The direct cost resulting from this brief trade disruption was rather elevated since most of Serbia’s exports to Western Europe transit trough Croatia or Hungary. Also, one of the border crossings is along an important route for the transit of goods from Turkey and the Greek port of Thessaloniki. It is estimated that some 21 million EUR crosses the borders from Serbia to Croatia daily. Also, the daily cost of the disruption for Croatian corporates was estimated by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce to be between 1 and 2 million EUR per day. This sort of event could recur, with the continuing migrant’s inflow and parliamentary elections in Croatia looming in November. Until then, the ruling party will try to reinforce its presence on the national security ground. Croatian officials have announced that the border could be closed again as soon as they suspect that Serbia is intentionally directing migrants away from Hungary towards Croatia. More fundamentally, the event indicates mounting tensions between the two Balkan countries, even though their relations had improved over the last 15 years. Serbia has more to lose in handling the situation, as this could obstruct the EU accession talks that were started last year. Croatia on the other hand, has already been an EU member for two years. Analyst: Florence Thiéry, f.thiery@credendogroup.com