“Political noise notwithstanding, the region’s economies are in a sweet spot, and should continue to ride the booming Eurozone wave this year.” That is the headline of a new report published by the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw), which highlights a number of key areas to watch during 2018.
In a world where the impact of global market forces on businesses can be ruthless and unforgiving, strategic partnerships are becoming increasingly driven by hard economic necessity. The notion of seeking and finding a compatible partner then, where a meaningful relationship can truly flourish and be both rewarding and fulfilling for both sides may seem somewhat romantic to many.
Only seven Emerging European countries can boast better than average fixed broadband internet download speeds, latest figures from Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index claim. Only three countries: Romania (4th), Hungary (5th) and Lithuania (11th) make the top 20, and only a further four (Latvia, Bulgaria, Moldova and Poland) can boast above average broadband speeds.
I remember very well my first Christmas in Hungary. One of my colleagues had invited me to a Christmas dinner at his house. It was a cold and snowy day but as soon as I stepped into his home I was hit by the warmth of the fire and a wonderful smell of food. I asked if I could wash my hands. My host pointed me to a door. I almost screamed when I entered the restroom: two carp were happily swimming in the bathtub. Merry Hungarian Christmas, Claudia.
The EBRD’s latest Transition Report: Sustaining Growth, issued at the end of November, has highlighted a welcome upturn in the pace of reform in emerging economies where the bank invests, four years after reporting that reforms were stalling or even being thrown into reverse. The EBRD also unveiled a new set of investment criteria for its projects, ensuring that its countries of operations are more competitive, better governed, greener, more inclusive, more resilient and more integrated. The six criteria are: reforms aimed at making economies more competitive; good governance; green transition; inclusion; resilience; integration.
It will take as many as six decades for income levels in the Western Balkans to catch up with those of the European Union (EU) if economies in the region continue to grow at the average speed achieved between 1995 and 2015, says the World Bank’s Western Balkans: Revving Up the Engines of Growth and Prosperity report, looking at how Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia can speed up economic growth and achieve faster income convergence with the EU.
World prosperity increased in 2017 and now sits at its highest level in the last decade, being 2.6 per cent higher than in 2007, according to the 11th edition of the Legatum Prosperity Index. However, the gap between the highest and lowest scores has increased and the spread between nations is growing.
Albania is the largest producer of crude oil in the Western Balkans, according to the Institute of Energy for South-Eastern Europe. The Albanian Energy Association (AEA) estimates the country to have relatively high oil reserves of up to 400 million tons, although further investment is required for research and development.
Government investigations and regulatory compliance are increasingly concerning issues for businesses operating in the CEE market. This is according to the latest Central and Eastern Europe: Risk & Resilience report, published on November 23 by international law firm CMS and Legal Week, which canvassed the views of more than 40 in-house counsel on the region’s business potential and how to mitigate risks.
The European Commission’s Autumn Economic Forecast, published on November 9, sees growth continuing across those emerging European states which form part of the EU, although the pace of that growth is expected to slow somewhat over the next two years. Almost across the board, private consumer spending is the main driver of growth.
All 23 economies of emerging Europe are set to record positive growth in 2018, led by Georgia, whose GDP is seen as growing by more than 4.2 per cent. Even Azerbaijan, whose economy has contracted for the past two years, is seen as returning to modest positive growth in 2018. The regional outlook is stable, but a couple of places, notably Romania, are giving cause for concern.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia has closed on average 71 per cent of its gender gap, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. Overall, 68 per cent of the global gender gap has been closed, a slight deterioration on 2016 and 2015, when the gap was 68.3 per cent and 68.1 per cent respectively.