A major new report carried out by See News for the Sofia Investment Agency shows that more than one in five Bulgarian workers is employed in Sofia. The unemployment rate in the capital has decreased by almost a third over the past four years and is now just 3.8 per cent, well below the national average of 6.2 per cent. Sofia also accounts for a staggering 40 per cent of Bulgaria’s total GDP, and is currently enjoying growth of 7.7 per cent. Growth for Bulgaria as a whole is less than half of that, albeit at a still impressive 3.4 per cent. In 2016, 52 per cent of all foreign direct investment to Bulgaria went to Sofia.
More than 60 per cent of the demand for office space in four major CEE cities – Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow and Sofia – during the first half of 2017 came from the outsourcing sector. That is one of the key findings of a major new report published on December 14 by Colliers, one of the region’s largest real estate agencies. The report claims that the demand for office space is itself being driven by the ready availability of skilled workers, but also warns that the stock of highly-qualified graduates is not inexhaustive.
Estonia is in the last month of its EU presidency. Having called itself the ‘digital presidency’ it is not surprising that many of the themes of this past month are digital: progression on the taxation of the digital economy and the free movement of data, approval of an ecommerce VAT package, and an agreement on further steps to develop 5G networks across Europe.
Three high-profile initial public offerings (IPOs) have had a hugely positive impact on the primary Romanian stock market this year, the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BSE). The BSE’s BET has grown by 20 per cent this year, while liquidity through the first nine months of 2017 has improved by 33 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Amidst fierce criticism from abroad and protests at home, Poland’s newly appointed Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki published an English-language opinion editorial in the Washington Examiner on December 13 defending the government’s attacks on the independence of the judiciary. Mr Morawiecki claims that criticism stems from “widespread misunderstanding of our plans to reform Poland’s deeply flawed judicial structure.”
Consumer prices in Romania were up 3.23 per cent in November on the same month in 2016, the country’s National Institute of Statistics (INS) announced on December 12. The figure is the highest for more than four years, with prices up 0.66 per cent on October. The increase has been caused by the sharp growth in price of a number of everyday goods (particularly eggs and dairy products), as well as energy. High interest rates, and the unfavourable leu-euro exchange rate have also placed upward pressure on prices.
Lithuania‘s Maxima Grupe (Maxima Group), the leading Baltic food retailer, with a firm footing in Latvia, Estonia, Poland as well as Bulgaria, has signed an investment agreement to acquire Stokrotka, a chain of 410 convenience stores in Poland.
Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) has said that any attempt to limit its independence will cause irreversible consequences for the country’s fight against corruption. On December 6, only the intervention of activists and reformist, mainly opposition MPs who worked tirelessly overnight to remove a bill from parliament that would have stripped NABU of its independence and unseated its boss, Artem Sytnyk. Pressure from western partners also appears to have been crucial in convincing the authors of the bill, mainly MPs from parties loyal to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, from withdrawing it.
In a shock move, Romania’s main opposition parties, the Liberal Party (PNL) and the Save Romania Union (USR), together with the Romania 100 movement of former prime minister Dacian Ciolos and a raft of civil society organisations have announced a common front against the ruling PSD-ALDE coalition.
Rzeszów in eastern Poland has over the past decade or so become one of the country’s most go-ahead cities. Its mayor Tadeusz Ferenc talks to Andrew Wrobel about the city’s future. Continue reading Growing Rzeszów
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) now has a new liaison office in Moldova’s capital, Chișinău. It’s seen as an important stage in Moldova’s relations with the organisation without yet affecting the principle of the country’s constitutional neutrality as it is a diplomatic mission which has no military implications
Since the annexation of Crimea and the beginning of the ongoing war with Russia, Ukraine has been branded as a villain seeking foreign assistance. With National Bank reserves of 5 billion euros and a public debt equal to 80.2 per cent of GDP, Ukraine will have to repay 38 billion euros of EU loans over the next five years. As with people, help from the outside usually brings bad results if there is no incentive to take responsibility over one’s own future by reflecting on past mistakes. So what went wrong for Ukraine – and when?
The head of Bulgaria’s Special Prosecutor’s Office, Ivan Geshev, has been forced to publicy deny that the Prosecutor’s Office and the Bulgarian Interior Ministry has seized cryptocurrency bitcoins now worth around 6 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Poland and Ukraine, the two largest countries in Emerging Europe, should jointly promote themselves as an outsourcing destination.
“They should create an outsourcing hub and complement one another in their offer,” Iwona Chojnowska-Haponik, director of the Foreign Investment Department at the Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIH), during the second Polish – Ukrainian Outsourcing Forum in Rzeszów, Poland, organised by the Pro Progressio Foundation.
Judges in central and eastern Europe are under attack.
The most frightening thing about this is that the judges are under attack from their own governments. The authoritarian, populist style governments arising across the region have repeatedly shown that they seek to curtail and control judicial independence, subjecting judges to direct governmental control and limiting their ability to act independently. As an independent branch of the state, the judiciary poses a potential obstacle to those bent on the consolidation of power. The assault on an independent judiciary is part of a larger trend, documented across the region, to stifle dissent, whether it comes from civil society, the media, opposing political factions, or judges acting as an independent check on government actions.
Whisper it, but the business environment in Belarus is blossoming, thanks in part to some business-friendly reforms, the most recent of which is cutting red tape for companies. Despite recent protests against high unemployment rate and low living standards – or perhaps because of them – private companies are gently being encouraged to establish themselves.
He was king before – and after – his father. He was one of the last people alive to have met Hitler, Mussolini and Churchill but not, as has been reported, the last World War II head of state: Simeon II of Bulgaria survives him. He was certainly the last king of Romania. Any hope the country’s monarchists had of restoring the throne were dashed in 1990 when the neo-communists who took over Romania in the wake of the 1989 revolution prevented the exiled king from even entering the country. His legacy is not great: a feuding family, no clear line of succession. To all intents and purposes the Romanian royal family dies with him.
“If we’re too tough, we’re unlikable. If we’re too soft, we’re not cut out for the big leagues. If we work too hard, we’re neglecting our families. If we put family first, we’re not serious about work. If we have a career but no children, there’s something wrong with us, and vice versa. If we want to compete for a higher office, we’re too ambitious.” So writes Hillary Rodham Clinton in her new book analysing What Happened in the 2016 presidential election. Continue reading Women, to Tractors!
Having taken over a difficult role in April 2017, Jason Pellmar, head of the Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova regional office of the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, talks to Andrew Wrobel about the opportunities offered by the three countries, and some of the challenges he may face. Continue reading Mobilising Private Sector Investment in Belarus, Moldova & Ukraine
Government reshuffles continue. On the morning of December 7, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło, remained in office when she survived an opposition motion of no confidence,Law and Justice (PiS) deputies voting the motion down. Ten hours later however, she resigned. After a meeting of the governing party its spokesperson, Beata Mazurek, confirmed the political committee had decided to appoint Mateusz Morawiecki, erstwhile deputy prime minister and minister of finance and economic development to replace Mrs Szydło.
The European Council adopted a resolution on December 5 which states that Romania has failed to take effective action to correct significant budgetary deviation. The council has issued new recommendations under the EU’s ‘significant deviation procedure’.
Improving the business climate is like sport. You cannot win every race, says Zdenko Lucić, who since March 2017 has been the managing director of the Croatian Agency for Investment and Competitiveness. He talks to Andrew Wrobel about investment opportunities in Croatia, which he believes will continue improving its Doing Business ranking in the long run.
Croatia experienced something of a recession a while back, but the economy is doing better and better. How do you see it developing over the next couple of years?
Yes, we were in a recession. But over the last two years things have been improving and we have seen a significant increase in GDP. This year growth is around 3 per cent. This growth is based on investments, and business activity in general. I believe that in the next few years growth will be steady, and that we will recover what we lost in the years of recession. Hopefully, it’ll be much better than before. Things are looking optimistic.
What are the biggest challenges Croatia currently faces?
The biggest challenge is the use of skills and the availability of people. Croatia has a slightly higher unemployment rate than we would like. This is an opportunity for foreign companies looking to invest in Croatia. For example, in 2016, IBM decided to locate its client innovation center in Zagreb because they found out that they will have enough workers for it. They plan to create 500 new jobs that will serve the global market.
Croatia is perceived much better than it was maybe 20 years ago, but another challenge is to capture more international companies to open their facilities in Croatia. That’s why we’re promoting Croatia internationally as a business and investment destination.
You mentioned access to the labour force. Internally, what are you struggling with currently?
The challenge is to have an even distribution, or even regional development. Zagreb is the magnet for the entire region. We want to promote investments in less developed regions, for example, in the east where the unemployment rate is close to 30 per cent, where you have a skilled work force in ICT, engineering, and metal processing. That’s the goal: to get more and more high-quality investments in those locations.
How are you encouraging investors, both local domestic and foreign ones, to look at these other areas?
Within our Investment Promotion Act, we provide more generous investment incentives, for example employment incentives, in regions with a higher unemployment rate. We provide more direct grants for companies investing in high tech equipment in less developed regions, while the government started a project called Slavonia, which is the eastern part of Croatia, where billions of euros are available through EU funds for the development of less developed regions. This is an excellent example of how the government pushes or encourages investment in less developed parts of Croatia.
Is it working?
Yes, it’s working well. The usage or the use of EU funds is increasing. The absorption of EU funds increased tremendously comparing to previous years. We’re trying to improve the system in order to further increase the use of the funds. We want to speed it up in order to receive more from the EU.
Given that we’re talking about the EU, Croatia has been a member for almost five years. How has the country changed?
Some changes are in regards to the increased development of infrastructure, where most of the costs are covered by EU structural funds. Regarding investments and attractiveness of Croatia, we’re seeing a shift towards us because Croatia is more attractive to investors. For example, companies that invested in Croatia over the last two or three years were not interested before we were part of the EU. Thousands of new jobs have been created thanks to EU membership and new market opportunities.
How is Croatia differentiating itself from neighbouring countries?
Some of our neighbours are EU member states, such as Slovenia, Hungary, and of course we have a maritime border with Italy. Then of course we have borders with non-EU members, like Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.
Compared to other countries, Croatia was always a part of Central and Western Europe going back through history. Our economy and our trade balance, industry, tourism, have always been very much bonded with economies of Central and Western Europe, comparing with economies of the other countries in the region. If we look geographically, Zagreb is further west than Vienna, for example.
How about doing business? In the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report, the country ranked 51st, down by eight compared to 2017.
This year, we experienced a fall in our Doing Business ranking. We had a couple of good years, improving from 124th to 89th, and up to 40th. Now we’ve slipped down a little bit in the ranking. It’s not that we haven’t made do any improvements. We have, and they were acknowledged in the report. But other countries were implementing change faster.
But it’s like a sports game. You cannot win every race. In the long run, however, we believe that Croatia will improve its ranking. We are taking steps to improve the business environment. For example, tax reforms implemented in January this year were not taken into consideration for the latest Doing Business report. Next year, we believe that these improvements will be recognised by the World Bank and will definitely lead to an improvement in our ranking, because the tax burden for companies has been reduced.
You mentioned you’d like more investment outside Zagreb. How do you see the development of infrastructure in the country?
Regarding business, and transportation infrastructure, you’ve probably traveled to countries in the region. When you travel by car, there’s an obvious difference when you cross the border. You see that in much of Croatia you have highways, but in some parts of some countries, you don’t have developed highway infrastructure. Also, business infrastructure: while much of Croatia is covered with high-speed internet, some areas of neighboring countries do not have that.
There are some investors who are looking to invest in countries that are less developed because they are hungrier for lower costs and for more profits. When you race to the bottom, eventually you’re going to lose. If you want to be the cheapest destination, in the long run that’s not feasible. We believe that we’re the best cost destination. The cost of doing business in Croatia is not as low as in less developed countries, but it is significantly lower than in developed countries. For example, many Italian, German, Austrian, French companies choose to come to Croatia because they will get the best value for their investment. They have the choice to go further east. But going to less developed areas with less developed democracies, less developed judiciary system, less developed business infrastructure, you’ll have higher risk and potentially higher costs.
Ericsson has 3,000 employees in Croatia. Of those, 1,200 are employed in research and development in Zagreb and Split. Some years ago, it was the most profitable unit within the group. Good business can be done in Croatia. We’re not the cheapest, but we’re the best cost destination, providing excellent service at reasonable cost.
Which sectors are you currently interested in promoting, where you think foreign investors could benefit?
First of all the tech sector: IT, engineering, electronics. Then manufacturing: metal processing, production of plastic parts and components. Other sectors such as tourism are also interesting. Tourism is driven by the natural beauty of the country. Then there is the pharmaceutical sector, which has been booming in Croatia over the last couple of years. For example, the biggest pharmaceutical companies have opened or expanded production sites in Croatia. And now they’re investing further and setting up R&D sites. For example, Hospira, one of the biggest pharmaceutical and medical device company, recently bought by Pfizer, has a huge site in Croatia and they are growing constantly. Teva, Galapagos, Xelia Pharmaceuticals were investing in Croatia significantly and they are still growing.
Let’s imagine you have a foreign fan of Croatia who’d like to invest in the tourism in the country. What opportunities does he have?
It depends on the type of investment you prefer. If you want to build a city hotel, locate it in Zagreb for business purposes, then this is a good opportunity because Zagreb tourism and business arrivals are increasing by two digits per year. If you want to provide a facility for leisure activity, you’ll need to go to the coast, where around 90 per cent of tourists are coming.
What is now in further development is the idea of Croatia as a year-round tourism destination. The seaside is of course seasonal, but for somewhere like Dubrovnik the season is much longer. Zagreb, with a combination of business travel and tourism, has always been a year-round destination.
We have also invested a lot into airport infrastructure over the last couple of years. In March, a new terminal opened at Zagreb. It was constructed by an international consortium. Dubrovnik Airport is expanding. They have received a grant from EU structural funds, over a of hundred million euros. Split Airport too is developing, as is Zadar and all the international airports in Croatia are developing. With the current consortium managing Zagreb Airport, we believe that we’ll have more flights, more destinations connecting to Croatia.
We are in London now, promoting Croatia. Why is London important? Why do you want to attract British Investors? Is Brexit not a concern?
Great Britain is one of the world’s leading economies. Brexit, for Croatia, might be an opportunity for companies that want to stay within the European Union, that want to have a sort of nearshore location close to Britain, but still in the EU. We believe that Croatia — with its benefits, human capital and business infrastructure — can be a good base for these companies.
Member states of the European Union spent over 300 billion euros on Research and Development (R&D) in 2016, although Central and Eastern European members spent below the EU average. The figures were published on December 4 by Eurostat.
Goldman Sachs is expecting to hire around 250 staff in Poland, primarily in operations and technology, risk management, treasury and human resources, all back office roles which do not have to be located in more expensive locations. According to the Polish Association of Business Service Leaders, outsourcing centres opened in the country by foreign companies have added 198,000 jobs so far.
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
Better than expected budget deficits, high growth and low interest costs almost everywhere in CEE have helped the region keep public debt to GDP on a downward path. That is the headline conclusion of a new report published on December 5 by Erste Group, one of the largest financial services providers in Central and Eastern Europe.
Nine cities in Central and Eastern Europe feature amongst the first 20 in the Best-Performing Cities Europe Index, published on December 4 by the Milken Institute. The report used outcomes-based metrics including job creation, wage gains, manufacturing, and skilled service industry concentration to evaluate the relative performance of European regions.
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.
Land prices in the Czech Republic continue to climb. According to Farmy.cz, at the end of November 2017, the average market price amounted to 23.50 Czech korunas per square metre, about 15 per cent higher than a year earlier.
Slovenia is Emerging Europe’s leader in the number of ‘hidden champions’ — 3.5 per one million inhabitants. As defined by Professor Hermann Simon, a German business leader and author, hidden champions are firms that are market share leaders — amongst the world’s top three or number one in the continent, with turnover below 1 billion euros and yet not generally known to the public. Poland has only 0.7 such businesses per 1 million inhabitants, the Czech Republic and Hungary each 0.4.
I have always been amused by the geography of regions within global companies. Names like Central Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and East Europe have always meant different things to different companies. My favourite was when a global company’s Eastern European region included Switzerland. Why? Because the regional head’s family lived there, so it was added to CEE. Continue reading CEE: Innovate or Get Eaten
Reflecting customer demand, Wizz Air has announced 15 new Polish and Ukrainian routes, which will connect Katowice with Porto, Munich, Lviv, Kharkiv, Malaga, Faro, Podgorica; Gdansk with Lviv; Warsaw with Podgorica and Poznan with Dortmund from March 2018.
Two key credit rating agencies, S&P and Fitch, both raised Bulgaria’s credit rating on December 1, lowering the Balkan state’s cost of borrowing and sending a strong signal that the country’s current bout of growth was both real and sustainable. S&P raised its sovereign credit ratings on Bulgaria from BB+/B to BBB-/A-3, while Fitch upgraded Bulgaria’s long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings from BBB-minus to BBB.
Almost 120 kilometres of new express ways are scheduled to be opened in Poland by the end of 2017, says the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA).
Private equity firm Vitruvian Capital has acquired a 30 per cent stake in Romanian cyber security technology company Bitdefender from existing shareholder Axxess Capital. The deal was signed on December 1, and the transaction values Bitdefender at 600 million US dollars.
Faced with heavy criticism from the business community and even the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS; which would have been the main beneficiary), Poland’s government has been forced to backtrack on plans to remove the upper threshold for the payment of social contributions from January 1, 2018. This despite the proposed legislation being at an advanced stage.
The Czech Republic is the most attractive destination in Emerging Europe for investment in infrastructure, a new report from CMS claims. The Czech Republic, which ranks 13th out of 40 countries surveyed, is about to embark on a major programme to modernise its train stations, has allocated approximately 384m euros to the scheme. “The infrastructure market has high hopes for Central and Eastern European countries, whose economies are currently experiencing a great expansion,” states the report.
The European Commission will not transfer the third and last 600 million euro tranche of the current 1.8 billion euro macro-financial assistance programme to Ukraine, approved in 2015.
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.
Shale gas exploration in Poland has come to an end. San Leon, an Irish firm which in 2014 was the operator of 24 and a shareholder of 11 licences to explore oil and gas reserves — both conventional and unconventional (such as shale gas), has returned the last two shale gas licenses it held to Poland’s Ministry of the Environment. The company, which was the country’s biggest shale gas enthusiast, could have continued exploration until 2020, but has not found any partners interested in doing so.
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.
The most important oil refinery in Belarus, Naftan, is currently struggling with increasing oil prices and decreasing wages, while the whole country has been affected by the economic crisis, and protests against an unpopular new tax are on the increase.
Continue reading Belarus Refinery Boss Upbeat Despite Challenges
Japanese carmaker Toyota announced on November 29 that it is to invest 400 million zloty (95.2 million euros) in manufacturing a new combustion engine for hybrid vehicles in Poland. The engine will be built at Toyota’s plant in the south-western Polish city of Jelcz-Laskowice.
Anytime Beijing ventures into intra-European relations, trepidation ensues. The “16+1” meeting between Beijing and a group of Central and East European states on November 27 brought particular interest. The goal was to discuss Beijing’s investments in the region. But the event coincided with rise of populism in Central Europe, which, in turn, has spawned tensions between the EU’s newer and more established states. China has been blamed for exploiting these divisions, and for trying to break EU consensus on subjects that matter to Beijing. But on closer inspection, the rising power’s influence is less than it appears.
Ever since central Europe’s transition to democracy, the Visegrád Group (V4) has been a cooperative project based on the principle of costs and benefits. In recent times however, the complex political processes within the European Union have brought new challenges to the group, and divisions within it might well be made permanent by increasingly diverse views on the institutional future of the EU.
Emerging Europe – Georgia in particular – will play an increasingly important role in the continued development of the New Silk Road Economic Belt, launched by China in 2013. That was the consensus reached at a Belt and Road Forum held in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on November 28-29.
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.
The world economy has strengthened, with monetary and fiscal stimulus underpinning a broad-based and synchronised improvement in growth rates across most countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) latest Economic Outlook, published on November 28. For those emerging European countries which are members of the OECD (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) a common theme of the report is an increase in growth driven by consumption, itself powered by tightening labour markets.
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.
Money laundering may not be theft, but it is a product of theft. Sources of laundered money may include illegal activities such as trafficking in drugs or humans, or it may be diverted income from natural resources, inflated costs, bribes, fake loans, or other financial manipulation. The money might be stolen from the state, in the form of unpaid taxes or other charges, or from the people of a country – as with stolen revenues from the sale of natural resources from oil to diamonds. Money laundering thus reflects economic and moral damage to individuals and institutions and thereby threatens the stability and security of states, societies, and regions.
More than 150 politicians, business leaders, analysts, journalists, bankers, investors and people who simply have an interest in Georgia were brought together on November 20 at the Emerging Europe-EBRD Outlook on Georgia.
The outlook for Moldova is favourable, and in the medium term the economy is projected to grow close to 4 per cent. Those were the conclusions of an IMF report which followed an official mission to Chişinău, led by Ben Kelmanson.
Industrial production prices rose by 2.9 per cent year-on-year in the euro area compared with 2016, and by 3.3 per cent in the EU28. The figures are Eurostat estimates, for the year to September 30. The latest monthly figures also show impressive growth, with both the EU19 and EU28 growing by 0.6 per cent in September.
Poland’s government has made no secret over the past 12 months of its plans to change media rules in a such way that could force some foreign owners out of the country. Despite criticism from both the European Union and human rights groups including Amnesty, Poland’s Deputy Culture Minister Paweł Lewandowski said as recently as August 2017 that while the new law (which he is helping to draft) would stop short of ‘re-Polonizing’ the nation’s media, it would nevertheless impose rules limiting ownership on groups whose cross-platform holdings and market share are deemed ‘dominant.’
Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine may soon join the European customs union and Schengen area, gaining increased access to the single market. The European Parliament passed a resolution on November 15 calling for deeper integration with the three emerging Europe states as they implement more reforms, potentially paving the way for them becoming candidate countries.
The Ukrainian economic crisis of 2014-15 was caused by a number of factors, each one coinciding and reinforcing the other. Today, the country’s economy is recovering, but it remains highly dependent on the speed and the ultimate success of several key reforms, of which judiciary reform is the most important.
Income convergence in the Western Balkans has stalled, according to the IMF’s new report, Regional Economic Outlook: Europe Hitting Its Stride. Measured in purchasing-power-parity terms, income levels in the region today are less than 30 per cent what they are in the euro area.
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.
Growth in Emerging Europe increased to around 3 per cent in the first half of 2017, up from 1.5 per cent in 2016, according to the latest IMF Regional Economic Outlook: Europe Hitting Its Stride report. The drivers of the growth are recession in Russia, increasing private consumption, low unemployment and labour shortages which have pushed up wages.
Some people blame their parents for what they later become in life. I am certainly no different. Back in the early 1990s my father suggested that I should ‘Go east. That’s where the opportunities are.’ With those words in mind I enrolled at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies to study Romanian language and literature. More than two decades on things have not turned out too badly. Neither for me nor the region.
A new report published by HSBC on November 14 shows growth across emerging Europe exceeding expectations in the third quarter of 2017. Romania (8.8 per cent), Poland (4.7 per cent) and the Czech Republic (5 per cent) all beat previous forecasts, while Hungarian economic growth (3.8 per cent) also picked up pace, but came in a touch below consensus expectations.
Poland’s governing party, Law and Justice (PiS) continues to herald its multiple successes two years after the party won a general election. First, the party’s leader Jarosław Kaczyński gave a special interview to state-owned and government-managed TVP, then he and Prime Minister Beata Szydło threw an unexpected press conference, but didn’t take any questions from media representatives. Continue reading Kaczyński Defends PiS Record
Although many private companies are still reluctant to invest in Belarus, where 80 per cent of all industry remains in state hands, Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov has reiterated that the government wants to continue supporting entrepreneurship.
Continue reading Belarus Steps Up Liberalisation of Business
Since leaving office Toomas Ilves, president of Estonia from 2006-16 and driver of the Baltic state’s world-leading initiatives in e-government and cyber security, has become a roving advocate for digital government. Early in November he told the 2017 edition of the Microsoft Summit that those countries wanting to emulate Estonia need to “mind the gap” between the pace of digitalisation in the private and public sectors.
Confirming China’s increasing interest in emerging Europe, electric car manufacturer Zhi Dou is reportedly looking for a location to build a new plant, with Slovakia one of its preferred options. Zhi Dou, which is part of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, wants to start building cars by 2020 in a new facility which will reportedly cost around 400 million euros.
In a move designed to cut red-tape and bureaucracy, the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili announced a number of significant changes to the make-up of his cabinet on November 13. In the biggest move, the Ministry of Energy and the natural resources management component of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource Protection will be incorporated into one ministry: the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. This new mega—ministry will be led by Dimitri Kumsishvili, first deputy prime minister and erstwhile minister of finance.
According to estimates made by the National Bank of Hungary (MNB), house prices in Budapest have increased by 15 per cent since 2015. The figures appear in the latest MNB Housing Market Report, which states that prices are expected to rise further, albeit at a slightly slower rate. However, the report also notes that property prices remain below the level justified by macroeconomic fundamentals. What’s more, 41 per cent of new development projects are currently delayed, with a large number of completions of new dwellings now expected to appear on the market at the end of 2018.
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.
A major new logistics center is to be built in the Lviv region of Ukraine close to the border with Poland, offering huge advantages for both countries.
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.
Twice a year, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw) publishes its macroeconomic forecasts for 22 countries of Central, East and Southeast Europe (CESEE).
The Czech capital Prague is the 5th most popular European city for tourists, and is on course to welcome more than 8.5 million visitors in 2017, a 4.5 per cent increase on 2016. The figures were presented at the World Travel Market in November by Euromonitor International, which has been studying travel trends across the globe for the past decade.
Business and opposition leaders, trade unionists, small firms and even local councils across Romania have condemned an emergency ordinance (OUG) passed by the country’s government on November 8 which transfers the responsibility for paying social contributions from employers to employees. It is claimed that the changes, which take effect from January 1, 2018, will lead to additional costs for business and may mean that workers take home less money each month. Some companies may even be forced to lay workers off. The Romanian currency, the leu, moved past the psychologically crucial 4.6 lei to the euro barrier even before the OUG had been formally approved, hitting its lowest level for over five years.
The European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH), the EBRD and the European Union has launched a new programme committed to helping SMEs get better access to advice for sustainable growth. Tailored business advice will be made available to more than 240 SMEs across Bulgaria and Romania, as well as Greece. The expertise on offer will cover a wide range of areas including strategy, trade promotion, financial management, energy efficiency and marketing.
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.
Almost three decades since the fall of communism, emerging Europe brands still do not shine as bright as their western counterparts.
The latest Nation Brands report, published by Brand Finance, shows how Brand Romania, Brand Slovakia, Brand Bulgaria and other nation brands from emerging Europe are much weaker and less valuable than their western neighbours — and with a long way to go before they can carry their economies in times of distress. Perceived higher market risk has also been reflected in lower FDI and M&A flows over the past three decades.
The lead sentence from Dumas’s Three Musketeers, symbolising team work and cooperation towards a common goal, came into my mind at our recent event, the CEE Supply Chain Dialogue, organised with the participation of Hungarian, Polish, Croatian, Czech, Romanian, Serbian and Slovenian government organisations, investment agencies, and export banks. Our aim with the event was to discuss opportunities to better connect SMEs in CEE to the global economy via GE’s supply chain, and ways in which GE can catalyse and support this process. Clearly a case of ‘all for one and one for all.’
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.
According to Eurostat’s Digital Economy and Society report, 3 per cent of businesses in the EU still do not have an internet connection, with the highest share of these being found in Romania (16 per cent). The report also states that when it comes to mobile connectivity, there is a distinct gap between large businesses, of which 94 percent use a mobile broadband connection, and SMEs, only 69 per cent of whom make use of the technology.
The Czech EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová said in Helsinki in early November that the EU Structural and Cohesion Funds, which aim to reduce regional disparities in income, wealth and opportunities, should comply with the rule of law. Her speech appeared to be directed at Poland and Hungary.
The Czech National Bank (CNB) raised its main interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.50 per cent in early November. The bank had also increased the rate in August, in doing so becoming Europe’s first monetary authority to embark on a tightening cycle.
At the end of October the Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO) organised its international business-to-business event called the Slovak Matchmaking Fair (Slovenská kooperačná burza). The event, attended by around 300 companies, was held for the first time in Košice, the largest city in eastern Slovakia.
In April, news broke of a widespread anti-gay purge in Chechnya; in September, gay men and transgender women were rounded up in Azerbaijan; and in October reports emerged that a registry of gay men and lesbians was being compiled by the authorities in Tajikistan. How might we understand these disparate events as part of a trend in these three former Soviet countries?
Less than six years ago, Warsaw had only one airport — Okęcie — which has recently been expanded and in 2016 handled a record number of 12.8 million passengers. Today, there is Warsaw Modlin, located 40 kilometres north of Poland’s capital, served mainly by Ryanair flights, and Radom, about 100 kilometres south of the city, which opened three years ago at the cost of 120 million złotys (27.8 million euros) and recently lost its only regular carrier. Now the government is planning another airport in Stanisławów, some 45 kilometres west of Warsaw. The cost of the investment is estimated at 20 billion złotys (4.6 billion euros) and the first plane is scheduled to take off in mid-2027.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Croatia to accelerate the pace of structural reforms in order to improve competitiveness and mid-term growth prospects.
“Croatia’s convergence process has slowed down compared to its peers,” Elisabetta Capannelli, World Bank country manager for Croatia and Slovenia tells Emerging Europe. “Key reforms include those that would help create a favourable and predictable business environment and overall reduce the presence of the state in the economy, making it much more effective when companies should remain in public hands,” Elisabetta Capannelli, World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia tells Emerging Europe.
The ICT sector, with over 420 firms, has been one of the fastest developing sectors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) over the last few years. According to the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA), its share of the country’s GDP amounts to 80 million euros. In 2016, the number of IT people employed by ICT companies increased by 97 per cent compared to 2010, and net profits of ICT firms have doubled.
The strategic joint military exercise Zapad-2017 took place from September 14-20 at several training grounds in Russia and Belarus. According to official statements, the total number of troops participating in this military drill was 13,000. However, the real figures could well have been significantly higher. The official scenario of Zapad-2017 was very close to that of previous Belarusian-Russian military exercises, which took place in 2011 and 2013. Belarusian and Russian troops were preparing to repel aggressive actions by their western neighbours, aimed at destabilising the situation in Western Belarus.
Limited access to quality education, jobs and services, and the need for better cooperation between regional and central government are just two of the reasons that the Riga region underperformed in the latest survey of the Latvian economy carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
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.
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.
It would likely make sense to search for the causes of the euroscepticism of the citizens of the Republic of Serbia and other similar states in the region in the specific features, length and effects of a social transition which has been going on for more than twenty years. Disappointment, unfulfilled expectations under conditions of radical social change, and confusion in the understanding and promotion of EU integration could be considered general causes. Radical changes of the economic, political, legal and any other system have been going on for too long.
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.
Mixed messages in the world of Slovakian business. While according to the latest figures published by the Business Alliance of Slovakia (PAS) the country’s business environment rating has fallen to 49.6 points (less than half its original starting value), in better news the World Economic Forum’s 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) ranks Slovakia 59th, up six places on last year. Slovakia has alas dropped six places, from 33rd to 39th, in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report.
Buying eggs is becoming a challenge for Polish grocery shoppers. Not only is the price of eggs going up — by 28 per cent between October 9 and 15, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development — but they are also increasingly hard to find in shops and hypermarkets.
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.
As much as 354 billion złotys (82.5 billion euros) has been allocated to Poland from the European Union’s 2014-2020 budget. Halfway through the budgetary period, contracts worth some 131.5 billion złotys have been signed, and only 28 billion złotys have been paid to beneficiaries, about 8 per cent of the total amount.
Kraków, Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Sofia and Tallinn are amongst the world’s most elegant cities in a new survey released by Zalando, a German cross-platform online store that sells fashion items. Kraków and Warsaw ranked 27th and 58th, Prague 39th, Budapest 60th, Sofia 73rd and Tallinn in Estonia 79th in the survey which included 80 cities. Paris, London and Vienna are the survey’s runaway leaders.
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 presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey jointly launched a new rail link on October 30, connecting the three countries and in the process creating a freight and passenger line from Central Asia to Europe which bypasses Russia.
Despite political tension, eurozone economic confidence rose in October to its highest level in nearly 17 years. The European Commission’s Economic Sentiment Indicator, published on October 30, improved more than expected to 114.0 in October from 113.1 in September. This was the highest since January 2001, when the reading was 144.4. The expected score for October had been 113.3.
Half way through its term, how economically successful has Poland’s government been? Continue reading The Polish Government’s Mid-Term Report: Must Do Better
Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Maksym Nefyodov has warned potential investors in a number of state-owned enterprises that few are ‘gold mines’ and that potential investors should be prepared to for a long haul.
Poland’s Sunday trading debate continues. In the original draft of new regulations, the Solidarity trade union wanted all shops, with only a few exceptions, to be closed every Sunday. On October 27, however, the Sejm Committee of Social Policy and Family made several amendments to the draft, allowing for trade on the second and fourth Sunday of the month, and the two Sundays before Christmas. The draft law now needs to be discussed further.
The Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia; V4) is looking forward to improving cooperation with the countries of Central Asia. Sharing a similar historical background and strategic position, torn between the East and the West, Central Asia has much to learn from CEE.
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.
In a welcome boost for Romania’s burgeoning IT outsourcing sector, the American tech giant GoPro – best known for its action cameras – announced on October 27 that it would be expanding its presence in Romania. GoPro will be moving to larger premises in Timpuri Noi Square, a new development a short distance from the centre of the Romanian capital Bucharest.
Can Bulgaria be considered a new frontier for real estate investors? Yes, according to the latest investments.
Ukraine has a 13 billion US dollar shortage in tax revenues, the country’s Ministry of Finance says. In 2016 the country collected 26.5 billion US dollars in taxes, much less than it should have done. According to the ministry, fiscal reform is needed to make the current system more transparent, corruption-free and more efficient.
As many as 21 per cent of Poles do not know the main source of funding for the current government’s flagship 500 Plus family benefit programme, and only 38 per cent are aware the funds come from their taxes. The figures were published following research carried out by ciekaweliczby.pl. Even more noteworthy is the fact that as many as 40 per cent of respondents are certain the programme is funded from taxes paid by “other people,” businesses, or the government’s own funds.
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.
Romania’s Prime Minister Mihai Tudose said on October 25 that the country’s budget deficit for 2017 was “under 3 per cent” and would “remain under 3 per cent.” His comments came a day after Eurostat published its own figures for the second quarter of 2017, which show that Romania is running by far the biggest budget deficit in the EU, at 4.1 per cent. The UK — whose economy is wracked with uncertainty regarding Brexit — is a distant second, with a deficit of 3.4 per cent. Continue reading Romania’s Budget Deficit ‘Should Start Alarm Bells Ringing’
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
Central European Media (CME), which owns and operates a number of television stations across emerging Europe, including TV Nova in the Czech Republic, bTV in Bulgaria and Pro TV in Romania, has announced a big increase in revenue for the third quarter of 2017.
Claudia Patricolo talks to Dr Zoltan Kiss, an 86-year-old inventor and entrepreneur, whose latest venture, Holistic Solar, wants to change the way we think about and use solar energy, making it accessible to just about everyone. Continue reading Hungary’s Solar Dreamer
The clear winner of the Czech Republic’s parliamentary elections is ANO 2011, an anti-establishment political party founded by Andrej Babiš, a Slovak-born billionaire. Continue reading Czech Election Result Could Delay Euro Adoption Until 2025
Warsaw’s skyline, which in recent years has become one of the most impressive in Europe, continues to rise. A number of office buildings, with a combined total leasable area of around 760,000 sq metres, are currently under construction in the city, and almost half of them are skyscrapers. Warsaw’s current highest office building, Ghelamco’s Warsaw Spire will be joined by more skyscrapers: Varso Tower, Karimpol’s Skyliner, Golub Gethouse’s Mennica Legacy Tower or Ghelamco’s two other buildings — Warsaw Hub and Spinnaker Tower. Continue reading Warsaw Rising: The Polish Capital’s Skyline Gets Even Taller
Almost 973 million passengers travelled by air in the European Union in 2016, 5.9 per cent more than in 2015 and 29 per cent more than in 2009. Central and Eastern Europe registered the highest increases, with Bulgarian and Romanian air traffic climbing by 22.5 per cent and 20.5 per cent respectively. The two regional leaders were followed by Hungary (up 14.1 per cent), Croatia (13.8 per cent), and Lithuania (13.3 per cent). According to Eurostat, the total number of people travelling by air from the CEE-EU11 member states exceeded 211 million. Continue reading CEE Boosted by Positive Tourism Trends Across the Region
Ukraine is the UK’s offshoring destination of the year according to the Global Sourcing Association (GSA) UK. The GSA looked at the outsourcing market from the perspective of the United Kingdom, the world’s second-largest outsourcing market. Continue reading GSA Names Ukraine as UK’s Offshoring Destination of the Year
Romania’s Finance Minister Ionuț Mișa announced on October 16 that the rate of income tax would be reduced to 10 per cent from January 1, 2018. The current rate of income tax in the country is 16 per cent. At the same time he also announced the introduction of what has been called a ‘solidarity’ tax of 2 per cent on labour, to be paid by employers. It too will be applied from January 1, 2018. Continue reading Romania Cuts Income Tax, Introduces Solidarity Tax
Georgia’s economy grew by 4.7 per cent in the first two quarters of 2017, a big increase on the 2016 whole-year figure of 2.7 per cent. Exports are booming, and the unemployment rate is lower than it has been for years. Continue reading Georgia’s Growth Continues
More than 350,000 Dacia-branded cars were sold across the European Union and EFTA countries in the first nine months of 2017, an increase of more than 10 per cent on 2016. Dacia, owned by Renault, now has a 2.5 per cent share of the European market. The figures were released on October 16 by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). Continue reading Romanian Car Maker Dacia Sees Sales Boom
Economic growth in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) will be 2.2 per cent in 2017, the strongest growth in six years, and 0.3 percentage points above May’s expectations. According to the World Bank’s latest Regional Economic Update, Migration and Mobility in Europe and Central Asia, ECA economies are showing more rapid growth than previously expected with a GDP almost twice the average growth in the European Union. Continue reading Despite Public Anxieties, Migration is Playing a Key Role in ECA Growth
The Belarusian authorities are switching from control to prevention. President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree in October minimising the interference of oversight and auditing agencies in business operations. Continue reading Belarus Introduces New Business-Friendly Auditing Procedures
Poland is Central and Eastern Europe’s leader in technology, with 19 companies ranked in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Central Europe 2017 report. The speed of growth among Central Europe’s technology companies continues to accelerate, with the average hitting a new record of 1,127 per cent, the report says. Continue reading CEE Tech Growth Continues: Poland and the Czech Republic Lead the Way
First, Estonia launched a set of revolutionary delivery robots cruising the pavements of the Estonian capital Tallinn in the past summer. Now, the Baltic country has moved forward with its plans to give a new legal status to all of its smart robots. Continue reading Estonia Proposes Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Robots
The consortium constructing the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is investing a total of 800 million euros in Albania in 2017-2018, a sum which represents the largest single input of FDI in the country. (FDI for the whole country is approximately 1.5 billion euros). TAP will additionally create job opportunities for Albanian companies during construction. More than 2,800 people are already working directly for the project. Continue reading Trans Adriatic Pipeline Will Fuel Albanian Growth
A lack of commercial property at acceptable prices is forcing some of the largest Czech investment funds to seek better deals abroad. The leading Czech real estate fund ČS Nemovitostní Fond bought an office building in Warsaw for more than 116 million euros early in August 2017, and in September acquired Galeria Słoneczna, a shopping centre in Radom, for 164 million euros. The ČS Nemovitostní Fond, which is the oldest and largest shared fund in the country, has also been buying up property in neighbouring countries in recent months. Continue reading High Real Estate Prices at Home Force Czech Investors Abroad
Switzerland, Singapore and the United States once again occupy the podium places in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index. A number of CEE countries rank in the top 50, the highest of which is Estonia (29th), followed by the Czech Republic (31st), Lithuania (35th), Poland (36th) and Azerbaijan (37th). Albania improved its ranking the most, moving up 13 places to 80th. In general, however, all other CEE countries showed clear signs of an economic slowdown. Continue reading Estonia Leading CEE Country in WEF Competitiveness Index
The registration of new diesel and petrol cars in Slovenia will be forbidden after 2030. The government has adopted a strategy on the use of alternative fuels in the transport sector requiring that the total carbon footprint of a car must be less than 50 g of CO2 per kilometre, a standard which currently only electrical vehicles and plug-in hybrids meet. Continue reading Slovenia Sets Green Vehicle Deadline of 2030
By September 2018, Poland will no longer be ranked by FTSE Russell as an Emerging Market (FTSE Emerging All Cap), but as a Developed Market (FTSE Developed All Cap Ex-US). This will place the country together with 24 other nations including Germany, France, Japan and Australia. Poland is the first Central and Eastern European economy to be upgraded to Developed Market status. Continue reading Poland to Switch from Emerging to Developed Market by September 2018
There was a gradual west to east shift in 2017 of strong nation brands. The annual Brand Finance Report shows Asia is on the march, with China leading the way, while Euro-Atlantic nation brands are stagnating. CEE is still lagging behind western nations, with only Poland ranking in the top 25. Continue reading CEE Nation Brands Still Behind Western Counterparts
The VW Group, which owns Czech carmaker Škoda Auto, has rejected claims that it will shift some production to Germany. Instead, the group has decided to diversify three brands, Volkswagen, SEAT and Škoda.
Continue reading Škoda too Strong for VW Group
Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has made real progress after decades of underinvestment, not least the 5600 kilometres of new motorways which have been built over the last 20 years. However, as much as 615 billion euros needs to be invested in infrastructure and logistics if the CEE region is to bridge the gap with Western countries, a PwC report has found. Continue reading CEE Must Improve Infrastructure and Logistics
The International Monetary Fund expects the UK economy to grow slower this year and has cut its forecast from 2 per cent to 1.7 per cent. For now, the forecast for 2018 remains unchanged at 1.5 per cent. In the aftermath of last June’s referendum the economy initially proved resilient but in recent months – largely driven by a tumble in the value of the pound – inflation has spiked to almost 3 per cent, squeezing real wages. Continue reading UK Economic Growth Slows as Brexit Uncertainty Bites
Romanian politics has once again been thrust into turmoil by clashes within the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD). For a party which less than a year ago comfortably won a general election, the PSD is currently looking surprisingly ragged. Opinion polls suggest that the party has lost almost a quarter of its supporters since last December’s election, and the prime minister, Mihai Tudose, is in open conflict with the party’s leader Liviu Dragnea. Mr Tudose is not currently, however, expected to face the same fate as his predecessor Sorin Grindeanu, forced out of office in June after the PSD voted to bring down its own government. Continue reading Romanian Cabinet Reshuffled as New Splits Emerge in Ruling Party
Poland will adopt the euro only after the reform of the eurozone has been completed and if there are strong economic arguments supporting the currency’s adoption. According to Leszek Skiba, deputy minister of finance, the Polish government is currently not taking any measures to enter the eurozone as the currency’s future is not clear. Continue reading Poland Stays Cool on Euro Adoption
The Serbian government, in partnership with the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) plans to construct a 320-hectare Chinese-Serbian industrial park near Pupin Bridge in Belgrade. Continue reading China Agrees to Build High-Tech Business Park in Serbia
Germany remains the primary destination for Poles looking to work abroad. According to Poland’s Centre for Public Opinion Research (CBOS), in 2016, 41 per cent of Poles working abroad chose the country’s Western neighbour, although there have been years when as many as 48 per cent of Poles abroad worked in Germany. There are two reasons Germany remains favourite: an average monthly salary of 3,700 euros — one of the highest in Europe — and the proximity of the labour market. Continue reading Poles Still Keen on German Jobs
The leader of Albania’s Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha, has accused the country’s new government of being “the result of drug money,” going on to say that prime minister Edi Rama had killed, via June 25th’s elections, an agreement made jointly with the Democrats to enact constitutional and electoral reform. Continue reading Albania’s Economy Booms Despite Political Infighting
Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) has announced expansion plans both on the ground and in the air. The state-run carrier, with its head office and flight operations at Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, wants to create a free economic zone on the airport’s territory Continue reading Growth Continues for State-Owned Azerbaijan Airlines
The global economy is speeding up but caution is needed. That was the message from leading economists after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased its growth forecasts, with global output growth no expected to increase from 3.2 per cent in 2016 to 3.6 per cent this year, and 3.7 per cent in 2018. But the global economy’s recent recovery may not last, despite a pickup in activity in all western countries except the UK. High asset prices, rapid credit growth in China, political turmoil in Catalonia and a cliff-edge Brexit are the primary risks. Continue reading IMF Increases Growth Forecast With Emerging Europe Prominent
CEE economies are stable and represent only a moderate to low risk, claims a report published by Atradius, a global trade credit insurer. The report focuses on the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Turkey, and also this year includes Romania and Bulgaria, due to their long-term growth potential. Continue reading Still Potential for Growth in CEE as Economies Stabilise
More than a quarter of all invoices issued in Romania are paid late or not at all, a new report suggests. The study into European payment patterns, carried out by TNS for debt recovery specialist EOS, shows that 23 per cent of invoices are paid late, while 4 per cent are never paid at all. The rate is slightly above the average for the region (25 per cent). The best performers in Emerging Europe are Poland and the Czech Republic, where 80 per cent of payments are made on time. Continue reading Bad Payers Still Causing Problems for Romanian Firms
With deep government pockets, technical sophistication and a comprehensive investment plan behind it, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can have a big impact on the transformation of the Western Balkans. There are caveats, not least debt dependency on cheap Chinese loans, but a proactive approach throughout the region could bring welcome development for many in countries that are not prime investment destinations. Continue reading CEE Is Key to China’s Belt and Road Initiative
The European Union continues to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Belarus, and is set to provide 6 million euros in additional funds as part of the EBRD’s Advice for Small Business (ASB) programme. Continue reading More EU Help for Belarus SMEs
Integration is key, says Matthias Ruete, the European Commission’s chief of migration and home affairs. He spoke to Nikodem Chinowski about the impact of refugees and immigration on the economies and labour markets in the CEE region and the actions that the European Commission is planning to undertake on refugee camps in Serbia and Hungary. Continue reading Beyond Borders: Immigration Within the EU
Innovation and excellence across all its operations: this is the definition given to the Lithuanian Global Business Services (GBS) sector by the latest Invest Lithuania report. Over the past eight years, the Baltic country has strengthened its position as a go-to destination for business services in Northern and Central Eastern Europe, with 41 business centres located in Vilnius alone, while several other towns throughout the country, including Kaunas and Klaipeda, are also growing in importance. Continue reading Lithuania Handed Top Marks for Business Services
News is spreading. Long viewed by Western European and American financial institutions as a safe place to do business, private and public investment funds from parts as distant as Asia and Africa now view Central and Eastern Europe as more attractive than some western economies. That’s the headline finding of a new report jointly published by Skanska, JLL and Dentons. In the first half of 2017, investors spent approximately 5.6 billion euros across the region, 10 per cent more than the first half of 2016. Continue reading Global Players Dash for Tempting CEE
The Baltic States are set to launch several private capital and venture capital investment funds, sending a clear message that the region wants to be in lockstep with technologically more advanced Western European and Nordic countries. Continue reading Baltics Seek Lockstep With High Tech States
In a bizarre outburst Varujan Vosganian, an MP for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), part of Romania’s ruling coalition, said that subsistence farming was denying the country’s budget billions of euros every year. Continue reading Chickens Blamed for Romanian Budget Deficit
Lithuania’s Economy Ministry plans to make mergers and acquisitions easier from 2018. Draft amendments to the competition law will see the level of turnover before any merger needs to be referred to the regulator (Lithuania’s Competition Council; LKT) increase from 1.45 million to 2 million euros. In instances where several companies are being consolidated into one, the Economy Ministry is proposing the limit be raised from 14.5 million to 20 million euros. Continue reading Lithuania Set to Streamline Competition Legislation
Uncertainty about the process and outcome of Brexit negotiations, coupled with a potentially short timeframe for change, is already impacting investment and commercial decisions. But this is not the only finding of the report ‘Brexit — the Voices of European Business,’ which was carried out by the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe (COBCOE). Continue reading More Brexit Fears As the UK Proves To Be A Needed Member
Moldova has launched the new e-procurement system (MTender), in order to improve transparency and increase the opportunities for private companies to acquire public contracts. Continue reading Moldova Launches New e-Procurement System In Search For Positive Change
Currently, around 7 million mainly young, skilled and educated Bulgarian, Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks and Romanians (CEE-6) live and work in Western Europe. The return of even a relatively small portion of these would boost regional GDP, for example, by stimulating the development of real estate markets. Continue reading CEE Emigrants Could Boost Their Countries’ Economies
The Georgian Government’s local and foreign currency issuer ratings have been upgraded and the outlook remains stable. Continue reading Effective Policies Have Strengthened the Georgian Economy
Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, demands that the European Union refund 400 million euros, which is half the cost of Hungary’s border defence measures, in return for “protecting all the citizens of Europe from the flood of illegal migrants.” Continue reading Hungary Today: Potential and Challenge
In 2016, 500 of the largest companies in Central and Eastern Europe generated a turnover of 580 billion euros, says the Coface CEE Top 500 report. Polish companies increased their turnover by 3.3 per cent, while the turnover in Hungarian and Czech firms decreased by 11.5 and 2.2 per cent respectively. With two companies located in Poland— Orlen and Jeronimo Martins, and one each in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia (Škoda, MOL and Volkswagen, respectively), the top five lacks a Romanian business. However, this might change in the coming years. Continue reading Automotive and Transport Companies Dominate the CEE Region
Poland’s deputy prime minister and minister of economic development and finance has a new plan to attract investment. Mateusz Morawiecki wants to replace the existing 14 special economic zones with one that will cover the entire country. The new law is expected to come into effect at the beginning of 2018. Continue reading Poland Is Set To Become a Large Economic Zone
GE has launched a recruitment campaign for its Power’s Grid Software Solutions (SWS) centre in Bucharest. GE Power’s Grid Solutions, which helps enable utilities and industry to effectively manage electricity from the point of generation to the point of consumption, serves customers globally with over 19,000 employees in approximately 80 countries. Continue reading GE Inaugurates Its New Bucharest Software Centre
Can a single economic space spanning from Lisbon to Vladivostok exist? Is a closer collaboration between the European Union (EU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) possible? The time will show but the idea has already been developed and has been included in the Berlin Memorandum. Continue reading Doing Business Across Eurasia Could Be Easier
The Sarajevo Stock Exchange (SASE) became an active member of the SEE Link network, enabling trading on the respective market. The SASE is the fourth stock exchange that has actively joined SEE Link after three founding stock exchanges and the seventh stock exchange in a row. Continue reading Sarajevo Stock Exchange Connected to SEE Link
Moody’s expects the positive economic momentum in Poland to continue for the rest of the year. The rating agency’s optimism resulted from the year-over-year real GDP growth of 3.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2017, published by the Central Statistical Office at the end of August. Continue reading Poland’s Q2 2017 Growth Is Stronger Than Expected
The Croatian economy is among the least unstable economies, Bloomberg global risk index reports. Out of 82 countries evaluated, the country ranks ninth, while in the top three we find Hong Kong, Switzerland and Singapore. The US closes the index. Continue reading A Risky Evaluation of Croatia’s Economy?
The fuel and energy-related industries are allegedly corrupted areas of the Ukrainian economy, a recent report suggests. According to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), the damages amount to UAH 20 billion (€650 million). Continue reading Investigations Into the Corrupt Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Sectors
The first Digital Business Space has opened its doors in Sarajevo; helping the city reach the level of other advanced metropolises. The concept, which was developed by the South Eastern European Business Agency (SEEBA), aims to offer business people a working place in the city centre. Continue reading Digital Business Space Gives All Businesses an Office in Sarajevo
Jadranka Joksimović, Serbian minister of European integration, believes that Serbia’s strategic role is in connecting — connecting economies, people, even policies. She spoke to Nikodem Chinowski about the EU integration process, difficult neighbour relations with Croatia and Kosovo, and about the idea of the Balkan single market. Continue reading Jadranka Joksimović: Serbia Takes Its Candidacy of the EU Seriously
Serbia, Belarus and Ukraine are amongst the least open for business out of the 80 economies included in the recent ‘Best countries to start a business’ report by US News & World Report, the Wharton Business School and BAV Consulting. The countries rank 75th, 77th and 78th respectively. Continue reading Serbia, Belarus and Ukraine Ranked Lowly by Wharton Business School
The first non-EU entrepreneurs have completed the application process and are about to establish their businesses in Lithuania, within the government’s Startup Visa programme. The Startup Visa legislation, which was approved in 2016 and is now fully operational, makes it easier for non-EU nationals to get a temporary residence permit, provided they operate in an innovative field and have enough financial resources to achieve their goals for one year. Continue reading Lithuania Gives Innovation a StartUp
Over 90 per cent of the $956.8 million Belarusian IT market is external and involves exports. In 2016, the share of IT exports, in the country’s total exports of goods and services, accounted for 3.25 per cent, up from 0.16 per cent in 2015, according to EY’s ‘The IT Industry in Belarus: 2017 and Beyond’ report. Continue reading EY: Belarus’ IT Scene Is Thriving
In Q2 2017, Latvia was the second fastest growing economy amongst 21 EU member states, and after Romania. According to Eurostat’s preliminary, seasonally-adjusted data, published in mid-August, the country’s GDP expanded by 4.8 per cent year-on-year. Continue reading Latvia Urged Not to Increase Expenditure As Economy Grows
Estonia might be the first country in the world to offer its own token through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). ‘Estcoins’ would be managed by the Republic of Estonia, but accessed by anyone in the world through its e-Residency programme. They would be launched through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), which would enable companies to crowdfund their finance and incentivise a wide range of people to help grow their businesses.
Continue reading Estcoin: Estonia’s Own Digital Currency?
The Albanian construction sector is the biggest accelerator of the country’s economy. According to the Bank of Albania, it contributed to economic growth by 1.0 percentage point in Q1 2017. Continue reading Albania’s Construction Sector Supports the Country’s Growth
Instead of using the Lithuanian ports, Belarus should use Russia’s Baltic ports in the Gulf of Finland, Saint Petersburg and Ust Luga, to transport its oil products made from Russian crude oil, said Russian president, Vladimir Putin during his recent visit to Russia’s Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. Continue reading Putin Urges Belarus to End Oil Transit Through Lithuania
Ukrainian Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman, vows to restart privatisation, which is a strict condition of the next bailout tranches granted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for the autumn of 2017. That is why the government has pledged to sell the Odessa Portside Chemical Plant as well as the shares in eight regional electricity suppliers. Continue reading Ukraine to Restart Privatisation to Realise Profits
Private equity and venture capital investments into companies in Central and Eastern Europe reached a total of €1.6 billion in 2016 — the highest amount since 2009, according to recent Invest Europe’s data. Continue reading PE and VC Investment In CEE Is At an Eight-Year High
Half of Polish employers say they already face recruitment challenges which impact their companies’ development, says the latest Work Service report ‘Labour Market Barometer VIII.’ A third of them are struggling with personnel deficiencies, which prevents them from completing new contracts. Every eighth business has been forced to retreat from planned investments because of a shortage of candidates. Continue reading Polish Labour Market Deficits Are Impacting All
In the first half of 2017, Riga-based airBaltic carried 1.56 million passengers to destinations spanning Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS and the Middle East. Continue reading Air Passenger Volumes Reach Record High in the Baltics
RuchTech, an American fibre laser manufacturer and a subsidiary of IPG Photonics Corporation, has set up in the Great Stone Industrial Park located on the outskirts of Belarus’ capital city of Minsk. Within the next two years the investor is planning on constructing a plant that will produce various types of laser equipment, both for industrial and medical purposes. Continue reading 21st century Manufacturing Arrives at Great Stone
The Bulgarian city of Varna ranks first among the 22 cities evaluated by the World Bank’s Doing Business in the European Union 2017, as far as starting a business is concerned. Continue reading Business Standards Are High in SEE But Vary Widely
In Q2 2017, the Romanian economy expanded by 5.9 per cent, compared to the same period in 2016, according to a preliminary estimate by the National Institute of Statistics (INS). The figure marked an acceleration from Q1’s 5.7 per cent expansion and vastly overshot the market’s expectations of a slowdown to 4.8 per cent.
Continue reading Romanian Economy Grows Fast in 2017
Polish employers’ organisations are pressing the government to continue working on the, so called, Business Constitution, in a letter sent to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Economic Development and Finance, Mateusz Morawiecki. Continue reading Poland’s Business Constitution Must Be Finalised
The government of Armenia has set up the Meghri Free Economic Zone, close to its border with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The project, managed by the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments, aims to increase export-oriented production in Armenia and to attract more investors. This will be thanks to a preferential trade regime with the European Union and its being a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on one hand, and a common border with Iran, on the other. Continue reading Meghri Becomes Armenia’s Third FEZ
Two twin towns, Valga and Valka, on the border of Estonia and Latvia, have launched a project to ease integration into other countries’ job markets and to help with language barriers, qualification confirmation and documentation. Continue reading Valga and Valka – Where Estonia and Latvia Work Together
Salaries in Slovenia and Croatia are growing faster than in the five other countries that made up former Yugoslavia. According to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, Slovenia pays the highest salary in the region at €1,050.78, immediately followed by Croatia where the average monthly salary amounts to €813.1, which is an increase of €63,47 compared to 2016. At the bottom we find the Republic of Macedonia with only €372,55. Continue reading Croatian Salaries Are Growing in Line With Other CEE Countries
Czechia has the lowest unemployment in the European Union, at 2.9 per cent, says the recent Eurostat report. The country is followed by Germany (3.8 per cent) and Malta (4.1 per cent). Even though there are countries with lower labour costs, Czechia’s costs are still significantly lower than in Western Europe; the average hourly wage cost in the country is only €10.20 compared to €24.40. So, what else makes Czechia an attractive business destination? Continue reading Prospering Czechia Still Needs a Bigger Workforce
In Q2 2017, Ukraine’s GDP growth rate reached +0.6 per cent, compared to -0.3 per cent in Q1. Continue reading Ukraine’s Q2 Growth Climbs
When the war in the Donbass started, she joined the battalion that fought to retain the territory for the country. She was arrested by Russian separatists in June 2014, and, after one month, taken away to Russia. Nadiya Savchenko is one of the most recognised Ukrainians; a pilot-navigator, a deputy of the Supreme Council of Ukraine and, first of all, a symbol of the fight for the freedom and independence of Ukraine. She talked to Krzysztof Tadej about what kept her alive during the 706 days she spent in a Russian prison. Continue reading Nadiya Savchenko: I Dream of a Great Ukraine
“Bosnia and Herzegovina is a hybrid that does not work,” Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska, one of two constitutional and legal entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), said in May 2017. He is convinced that a referendum on the independence of this region will eventually take place. Continue reading Bosnia and Herzegovina: Focussing on Stability and Business Climate
In 2017, Armenia’s GDP is expected to grow by 3.2 per cent, says Vardan Aramyan, Armenia’s Minister of Finance. He spoke to Andrew Wrobel about the country’s growing macroeconomic stability and predictability, as well as the reforms that are improving the business climate. Continue reading After Economic Shocks Armenia Plans for Macroeconomic Stability
After eight years of a coherent US foreign policy on Europe, under the Obama administration, the Old Continent now finds itself with the polar opposite in the White House. Will the remnants of Obama’s policy outlive the Trump era?
Derek Chollet is former US Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs, vice president and senior advisor for security and defence policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He spoke to Santiago de la Presilla about the future of the transatlantic relationship. Continue reading Derek Chollet: There Is a Resurgence of Supporters of the Transatlantic Relationship
In January 2014, €1 cost about 11 Hryvnias (UAH) and $1, almost eight. At the end of December 2016, these foreign currencies were bought at close to 28 and 27 Hryvnias, respectively. However, depreciation is not the only challenge the National Bank of Ukraine has had to face.
Dmytro Sologub, Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), spoke to Andrew Wrobel about the recent nationalisation of PrivatBank, the country’s largest bank, about the reforms of the banking system and development prospects for the financial sector, as well as the future of FDI in Ukraine. Continue reading Changes Are Making Ukrainian Banking More Aligned with International Standards
In November 2016, Bulgarian opposition Socialist, Rumen Radev, won the presidential election, defeating the centre-right speaker of parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva, an ally of Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov. The PM had pledged to step down if his candidate lost, and he did thus triggering an early election.
Larisa Manastirli, Director for Bulgaria at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is a leading investor in the Bulgarian economy, spoke to Andrew Wrobel, about the reforms the country has introduced and the improvements that are still required, ten years after Bulgaria joined the European Union. Continue reading Larisa Manastirli: Where is Bulgaria After Ten Years in the EU?
When Ukraine makes the headlines, it is generally because of the war, which started in 2014, in the eastern part. This has hugely influenced the political and economic situation of the country, including the ease of doing business. However, it’s unjustified to think that, given the circumstances, investing in the whole country makes no sense. Continue reading Western Ukraine Could Be an Entry Point into the Country
The Belarusian economy is expected to grow by 0.7 per cent in 2017, says the outlook from FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast Belarus — November 2016. That growth will help GDP to slightly exceed the 2014 per capita figure of $7,048, by 2020. Continue reading Belarus’ Economy Is Slowly Recovering From Past Declines
Lviv is the important cultural, economic and scientific centre of western Ukraine. Its architectural charm and cultural heritage have earned the city the nickname, Pearl of Ukraine. It is also a modern city that is looking towards a bright future thanks to the development of the IT sector.
Andriy Sadovyi, Mayor of Lviv, spoke to Andrew Wrobel about his city’s key sectors, his future vision for the city and the amazing ambiance that makes Lviv a must-see on the European tourist map. Continue reading Lviv Is the Pearl and the Soul of Ukraine
Over the last quarter of a century, the region of Central and Eastern Europe has undergone a huge transformation in all possible fields with a special emphasis on the economy, politics and social affairs. The transformation is not yet complete, so the shape of the CEE countries is still changing rapidly.
Lech Wałęsa, the first freely-elected president of Poland, the co-founder of the Solidarity Movement and a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1983, talked to Nikodem Chinowski about economic and social transformations in the CEE, the future of the Visegrad Group and NATO and about his concept of introducing the globo-dollar as a worldwide currency.
New VAT forms that companies submit to the tax office and an updated list of products and services with a lower VAT rate are only a few of the procedures that have resulted from the Ministry of Finance’s five recent decrees. In July 2016, the Parliament approved new amendments to the VAT law in order to reduce informal economy. The Ministry of Justice plans on fighting the informal sector even further with terms of imprisonment for up to 25 years for tax fraud. Provisions against tax evasion have recently been introduced. Continue reading Do Your Homework First and Starting Business in Poland is Easier
Since it obtained full sovereignty from the Soviet Union, in 1991, Ukraine has remained suspended somewhere between the East and the West, being pulled closer to one or the other by various administrations. Now, paradoxically, an important stimulus for defining the future identity of this country of over 40 million has come, with the Russian occupation of the eastern part of Ukraine in 2014.
Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, spoke to Nikodem Chinowski about the prospects for integration with NATO and the European Union and about the development of the Ukrainian economy, a few days ahead of the 25th anniversary of the country’s independence. Continue reading Ukraine Is Offering Europe Unique Combat and Technological Experience
In 2015, foreign companies invested almost $3.4 billion in Romania, which is also the average FDI that the country has attracted in the last four years, according to the World Investment Report 2016. In 2016, Romania is expected to be the EU’s fastest growing economy. Will that growth help the country increase FDI into the country?
Manuel Costescu, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy of Romania, is responsible for foreign direct investment as the Head of InvestRomania. He talked to Andrew Wrobel about the country’s new investment promotion strategy, Romania’s key sectors and the successes the country has achieved in fighting corruption and improving its business climate. Continue reading The Reality in Romania Exposes False Perceptions Of The Country
Countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which joined the European Union between 2004 and 2013, have seen rising standards of living and are ranked amongst some of the most socially advanced countries worldwide, according to the Social Progress Index (SPI). Continue reading EU Membership and Transition into Market Economies Have Helped CEE Achieve Social Progress
Today, people across the United Kingdom are casting a vote that could change their country, but which could also transform European politics. The Remain camp claims that leaving the EU will be detrimental to Britain’s economy. Their opponents say the detriment to the UK of staying in the EU far outweighs the risks of leaving. They believe the Eurozone has been a disaster and maintain that it’s very important for Britain to regain control of their own borders.
Dr Arup Banerji, Regional Director for the European Union countries for the World Bank Group, talked to Andrew Wrobel about the impact of Brexit on Central and Eastern Europe. They also discussed other challenges that the European Union is currently facing that concern the CEE region and the solutions that might help address these. Continue reading World Bank: Brexit Hides Greater Challenges to the European Union and the CEE Region
Unlikely and unusual as it may seem, in a national general multi-subject primary school test, taken last May, final grade pupils in Kosovo achieved higher results in English than in their mother tongue. The subject with the second highest score was computer studies. Continue reading Kosovo: A Population of Talented Young Entrepreneurs Waits at Europe’s Door
SEE Link was officially launched at the end of March 2016, and is growing rapidly in terms of its member exchanges. The shared platform, which was originally set up by the stock exchanges in Zagreb, Sofia and Skopje, aims to rationalise and connect the relatively small capital markets of south-eastern Europe. It now has four new members that applied and will be connected to the platform this year: Ljubljana, Belgrade, Montenegro and Banja Luka. In addition the Athens Stock Exchange has recently submitted membership application and Bucharest intends to do so later this year.
In 1983, Chris Lowney left the Jesuit seminary he had been studying with from the age of 18 to work as an investment banker and then managing director for J.P. Morgan. Since leaving the bank in 2001 he has written four books and has been involved in a number of philanthropic efforts, including chairing the board of Catholic Health Initiatives, America’s second largest not-for-profit hospital and healthcare system. Continue reading Chris Lowney — What Jesuit Spirituality Can Teach Us About Global Leadership
In 2015, 1.19 million foreign tourists visited Armenia. That is one per cent fewer than in 2014, as the country attracted fewer visitors from Russia, but almost ten per cent more than in 2013. The country is also one of the ten safest destinations in the world, according to the Global Terrorism Index 2015. International airlines such as Air France and LOT fly to Yerevan regularly and Qatar Airways will begin flights in mid-May, 2016. Continue reading Mayor: Armenia And Its Capital Yerevan Offer Safe Investment And Tourism To a Growing World
In 2015, Bulgaria was named the best outsourcing destination by the UK’s National Outsourcing Association (NOA), and the BPO sector’s contribution to the country’s economy amounts to 3 per cent. In addition to this, the Bulgarian government is aiming to improve the country’s business climate by offering a range of incentives for foreign investors as well as individuals. The country currently has the lowest rate of personal income tax in the European Union and it offers fiscal citizenship to foreign nationals, working in Bulgaria. Continue reading EconMin: Bulgaria — Number One Outsourcing Destination And an Island of Stability in Europe
The number of non-financial reports is growing and according to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), around 5,000 sustainability reports enter the global market, annually with 40 per cent out of those coming from Europe. A group of strong leaders, in non-financial reporting, has already been established in Central and Eastern Europe. The Deloitte CE Top 500 ranks the largest companies from CEE countries and 109 of them already have some form of non-financial reporting in place or at least will report non-financial data for 2015.
Last year’s wire-tapping scandal, where the national security services allegedly recorded some 670,000 conversations from over 20,000 phone numbers illegally, paralysed the small Balkan nation of Macedonia. It is now a year later and the country, which has been an EU candidate since 2005, is trying to move on. Continue reading Macedonia — Stepping Out Of the Shadow Of the Balkans
According to the European Commission, the Slovenian economy grew by 3.0 and 2.5 per cent in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Slovenia also has 83 per cent of the EU average GDP per capita, making them, together with the Czechs, one of the most affluent nations in emerging Europe.
Emerging Europe spoke to Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia, about the country’s plans for further growth, privatisation and their approach to foreign investors. Continue reading Economy Minister: Internationalisation Is the Key To the Slovenian Economy
“External factors should be generally supportive, with stronger growth momentum within the EU, low interest rates and quantitative easing by the ECB, subdued commodity prices and the stabilisation in Russia,” Paul Gamble, Senior Director at Sovereign Group, Fitch Ratings, tells Emerging-Europe.com. Continue reading Fitch And the World Bank: Economic Growth To Remain Solid Within CEE In 2016
Almost every single economy in emerging Europe implemented at least one reform in the last year to improve their business environment. In consequence, as many as 16 economies in the region are featured in the Top 50 of the World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 report. Emerging Europe speaks to Rita Ramalho, Manager of the World Bank–IFC Doing Business, who has compiled a resume about the emerging Europe region especially for us, about how the reforms introduced have helped make doing business easier across the region. Continue reading World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2016 Resume For Emerging Europe