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S&P upgrades Croatia to investment grade on improving fiscal metrics

S&P Global Ratings raised Croatia's sovereign credit ratings to investment grade, citing the country's improving fiscal metrics, including declining government debt.

Ratings upgraded Croatia's long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings to BBB-/A-3 from BB+/B, and revised the outlook to stable from positive.

Ratings said Croatia has achieved "marked" fiscal consolidation, with public debt as a share of GDP dropping by 10 percentage points between 2015 and 2018.

Croatia's net general government debt is projected to decline to just below 60% of GDP by 2022 from its peak of 75% in 2015.

"According to the authorities, expected improved budget performance will likely be used to further reduce debt, which should help reduce vulnerabilities related to Croatia's government debt profile," Ratings said.

In 2018, Croatia adopted the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which Ratings said would anchor the country's recent "fiscal prudence."

"This legislation sets a requirement for a structurally balanced budget, which we think will limit the likelihood of pronounced fiscal slippages," Ratings said.

Croatia's general government has run primary fiscal surpluses since 2015, but is seen to post modest deficits from 2019 through 2022, according to Ratings.

Ratings also cited the restructuring progress of financially troubled Agrokor d.d., the country's biggest food retailer which will restart operations as Fortenova Group in April, Reuters reported.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.