“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.
Serbia took another large step towards accession to the European Union (EU) last week, opening two more chapters in its negotiations and reiterating its commitment to joining the EU in a timely fashion. As the largest economy in the region, Serbia has naturally been the focal point of EU efforts in the Western Balkans, with massive amounts of EU assistance and aid directed towards Belgrade. However, as our recent report for the European Parliament on Serbia’s recent foreign policies has showed, the increasing interest of Russia and China in the Balkans and especially in Serbia places Belgrade in a difficult position. With so many suitors, it is likely that Serbia may attempt to revert to its historical type and play a balancing act between the West and the East, using the interest of outside powers to remain preeminent in the region. The danger, as in the past, is that Serbia’s short-term regional aspirations could derail its longer-term economic security.
With the first snows of the winter having already fallen across Emerging Europe, many people’s thoughts would have already turned to winter holidays, and to skiing. While for many the countries of the region are not the first to spring to mind when planning a ski trip, there are in fact a number of very good ski resorts in this part of the world. From Jasna in Slovakia to Tsakhkadzor in Armenia, many offer some superb, rugged skiing amidst fantastic scenery, usually at prices well below those in Western Europe. Not that the low cost is the only attraction. For a new breed of adventurous skier, jaded perhaps by the increasingly busy motorway pistes of France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy, the search for fresh powder, for empty slopes and for new experiences is the real draw. That’s where Emerging Europe comes in, and that’s why our editor-in-chief Craig Turp, who has skied in more countries than most people have visited, decided to put together this short guide to skiing in some of the region’s top – and in some cases surprising – locations. Continue reading Skiing in Emerging Europe
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.
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.
The Serbian Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, together with the country’s Competition Commission, has begun to draft new competition legislation, in order to improve the business environment.