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.
There is much talk in Europe at the moment about the potential spread of separatist movements, a consequence of Catalonia’s referendum on independence. A number of maps have appeared on the internet pointing to various regions which may be next in line. The spectre of disintegrating states haunts some European Union states and is perceived (or instrumented) as a threat by others. In the eastern part of the EU, there is much talk about the case of the Silesians (some even mention the Kashubians) in Poland, the Hungarians of the Székely Land in Romania and Slovakia, Moravians in the Czech Republic, Russians in Latgale (Latvia), and the historical region of Samogitia in Lithuania.
Prague’s Na Příkopě and Pařížská are the most expensive retail streets in emerging Europe, with monthly rents averaging 220 euros per square metre. Kaunas is Europe’s most affordable retail location, with annual rents standing at just 174 euros per square metre. The figures were published on November 16 in a major new report prepared by real estate agency Cushman and Wakefield.
The German tyre and technology company Continental is to build a new manufacturing facility in Kaunas, Lithuania to expand its automotive electronics production footprint. Work on the new plant, which will bring in investment of 95 million euros over the next five years will begin in mid-2018. The project is the largest greenfield investment in Lithuania’s history, and once fully operational the plant will employ more than 1000 people.
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.
The finance ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania announced on November 6 that they had agreed to create a pan-Baltic capital market to strengthen their economies and stimulate investment. Toomas Tõniste (Estonia), Dana Reizniece-Ozola (Latvia) and Vilius Šapoka (Lithuania) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Brussels in which the three countries agreed to harmonise capital market regulations and dismantle investment barriers. All three Baltic States suffer from a number of constraints caused by the relatively small size of their markets: the agreement should help them overcome such limitations.
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.
The otherwise monotonous Baltic banking sector has recently seen some tremors with two Nordic banks Nordea and DNB merging into one business, Luminor, a new bank. There are also strong rumours regarding the possible arrival of a Polish bank, PKO, in Lithuania, the largest Baltic state.
Georgia is the easiest place in emerging Europe to do business, according to the latest edition of the World Bank’s Doing Business report, which compares conditions for doing business in 190 countries across the world. Among the top 20, Georgia, with a ranking of 9th, has implemented the highest number of business regulation reforms since the launch of Doing Business in 2003—a total of 47.
The Czech passport is the most powerful of those issued by the 23 countries of emerging Europe. According to the most recent Passport Index, it is ranked eighth globally and allows its holders to travel visa-free to 152 countries around the world. The Hungarian passport is the second most powerful in the region, the only difference to the Czech equivalent being its failure to offer visa-free travel to Lesotho.
The Baltic States are waging a war against unhealthy eating and drinking habits, and the Estonian government has been active on a number of fronts. First it raised excise duty on alcohol, and then quickly pushed forward legislation aiming to reduce sugar in food and beverages, duly passed by the Estonian parliament, the Riigikogu, in June 2017. The law introduced taxes on all sweetened drinks containing more than 5 grams of sugar per 100 milliitres.
With an unemployment rate of 7.5 per cent in August, Lithuania is facing a shortage of qualified workers. There are over 9,000 vacancies across the country and more than 70 per cent of employees claim finding workers is a challenge. Trying to solve the problem, Invest Lithuania, the country’s investment promotion agency, joined by over 30 foreign companies, has founded Work in Lithuania, a programme inviting emigrants back to the country. Continue reading Lithuania Wants to Bring Home its Skilled Workers