“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.
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.
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.
With key support from the EBRD’s Legal Transition Team, Montenegro accelerated the reform of its legal framework at the end of October when it adopted new legislation covering financial leasing, factoring, purchase of claims, micro-credit and credit-guarantee issues by the state parliament. Montenegro’s legal and regulatory framework is now significantly better aligned with international best practice.
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.
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.
Economic strategies are being questioned in several countries, both in Emerging Europe and elsewhere. Politicians have proposed more nationalist economic approaches, and in some cases are acting on them, in both Hungary and Poland as well as the US and the UK. In the former two emerging Europe countries, governments have consciously adopted policies of promoting nationally owned businesses, ostensibly out of concern that excessive foreign ownership hurts the country’s welfare. Continue reading Is the Level of Foreign Ownership a Problem in Emerging Europe?