Lukashenko says he may quit as president
Belarus hits EU with tit-for-tat sanctions
Belarusian police introduce colour-coded torture system for detained protesters
Kremlin publicly condemns Belarusian police brutality in hint of growing frustration with Lukashenko
Russian services PMI rises to 48.2, but remains underwater as recovery continues to slow
Russia to start mass vaccinations on December 7
Azerbaijan’s Aliyev calls on Armenia, Russia, Turkey and Iran to assist in creating Nakhchivan land corridor
FPRI BMB Russia: Sberbank releases a three-year transformation strategy to e-commerce concern
Ukraine’s banking sector continues recovery, but profits still lagging last year
Ukraine’s real wages up over 10% in October but have been stagnant in dollar terms for almost a year
FPRI BMB Ukraine: Public has confused opinions on resolving the Donbas conflict
Western Balkans plus Ukraine subsidised coal with over €900mn in 2018-2019
Estonian parcel robot firm Cleveron eyes €30mn state loan
Estonia’s chief auditor says €1bn in state COVID-19 loans issued haphazardly
Economic sentiment in CEE falls in November as recovery momentum splutters
Estonian animation studio Imepilt to hold IPO
Brighter days ahead: The economic bounce back in 2021
Central, Southeast Europe stock markets jump in anticipation of COVID-free future
VISEGRAD BLOG: An easing of trade tensions but still an uncertain situation for export-oriented Central Europe
Hungary's PM risks isolation as Poland mulls dropping EU budget veto
Poland ready to back down from veto of EU budget
Hungary's ruling party in damage control mode after MEP sex scandal bombshell
Poland’s PMI remains stuck just above the improvement line at 50.8 in November
Czech companies dominate this year’s Deloitte Technology Fast 50 CE
Coronacrisis to get worse before it gets better forecasts wiiw
EU diplomats say no chance of Bulgaria removing veto for Skopje to start EU accession talks
IMF says downside risks to Albanian economy are increasing
EU ministers fail to agree on launch of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia
Western Balkans commit to green agenda and regional common market at Sofia summit
Bosnia’s opposition ousts nationalist parties in major cities
Bosnia’s main ethnic parties fight to hold onto power in local elections
Southeast Europe’s EU members to get biggest boost from next budget and recovery funds
Bulgaria imposes 3-week lockdown to slow down COVID-19 spread
CEE politicians highlight trade and security ties as they congratulate Biden
Breakaway Transnistria fully under Sheriff’s control as Obnovlenie party sweeps board in parliament election
Moldova’s presidential election is over, now the battle for the parliament begins
Moldova’s foreign policy reset
Russian establishment quick to congratulate Moldova's new president-elect
Rising COVID-19 cases put intense pressure on CEE healthcare systems
MEPs urge European Commission to act against Hungarian media financing in North Macedonia and Slovenia
North Macedonia mulls decriminalising cannabis to boost tourism
Retail surpass pre-crisis peak as Romanians shop instead of holiday
Romania’s stability election
Romanian venture capital firm Catalyst launches new €40mn-50mn fund for TMT
The state is back in business
Slovenian PM Jansa stands alongside Hungary and Poland in EU rule of law row
BEYOND THE BOSPORUS: Turkish number crunchers deliver November inflation surprise of 14%
Erdogan needs to go says analyst assessing Turkey’s economic collapse
Ukraine strikes deal with Turkey to produce killer drones instrumental in Karabakh conflict
In Karabakh deal, as many questions as answers
Protesters flood Yerevan demanding Armenia’s “traitor” PM quit over Nagorno-Karabakh surrender
Who emerge as the real winners from the bloody Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Below average 2020 wine production destined for volatile and uncertain global market
Iran calls on Saudis to limit $67bn defence spending to Tehran’s $10bn
Iranian prosecutors pledge to pursue Trump for Soleimani killing even after he leaves White House
No reaction from Kazakh elites as bombshell FT report says Nazarbayev’s son in law siphoned millions from pipeline scheme
UK court freezes $5bn in assets connected to fugitive Kazakh banker Ablyazov
Attack of the Debt Tsunami: global debt soars to a new all-time high
Kyrgyzstan's proposed new constitution provokes widespread revulsion
Kyrgyzstan's China debt: Between crowdfunding and austerity
CFC joins RWC in assessing KAZ Minerals buyout offer as under-valuation
China business briefing: Not happy with Kyrgyzstan
Mongolian coal exports to China paralysed as Beijing demands virus testing of truck drivers
Mongolia fears economic damage as country faces up to its first local transmissions of coronavirus
Mongolia in lockdown after suffering first local coronavirus transmissions
Mongolia’s wrestling culture: From the grasslands to the cage
No surprises in Tajikistan as Rahmon retains presidency with 91% of vote
A Tajikistan poised on verge of economic calamity set for vote
Tajikistan revives on-off dispute with Iran
Turkmenistan: The dammed united
Turkmenistan: Everybody yurts, sometimes
Dirty money investigation reviews identified payments worth $1.4bn linked to Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan unveils extensive privatisation programme
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Across the six EU-aspiring countries, the development bank forecasts growth will slow from a high of 3.9% in 2018 to 3.2% in 2019. With the exceptions of Kosovo and North Macedonia, growth will slow down in countries across the region, with the slowest growth — 2.9% — forecast for Albania.
The report, titled “Rising Uncertainties”, questions whether the consumption driven growth in the region is sustainable, noting that other drivers — namely investment and exports — are starting to tail off. In the report, the World Bank downgraded its 2019 forecasts for Albania, Bosnia & Heregovina, Kosovo and Serbia.
“Net exports continue to subtract from growth, as the region’s trailing competitiveness weighs on opportunities for its small open economies to access larger markets. Instead, consumption continues to be the main driver of economic activity in Western Balkan countries,” says the report.
“Consumption growth has been fuelled by higher public spending and near double-digit growth in household lending, raising questions on the sustainability of the consumption-driven growth in the region.”
At the same time, internal and external imbalances are rising, the World Bank warns. It points out that rising budget revenues have not been enough to cover the surge in spending, in particular on electorally popular raises in public sector wages and social spending.
“As a result, fiscal deficits are projected to go up in 2019 in all countries in the Western Balkans except Kosovo and Montenegro. External imbalances also started to rise as exports slow because of falling demand from EU trading partners amid rising trade tensions,” it says.
Growth is projected to pick up again after this year and across the region it will be close to the 2018 level by 2021, says the World Bank, pointing to country-specific factors such as the expected rebound in hydropower-dependent Albania from the dip in generation cause by low rainfall this year, increased public sector investment in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kosovo, and a projected increase in consumption in Serbia as public sector wages and pensions are raised. And through to the end of the forecast period in 2021, GDP growth will be substantially faster than in the EU28 countries.
However, the report identifies numerous downside risks to the outlook for the next couple of years: “The region faces rising uncertainty as economic growth slows globally, including in the EU— the Western Balkans’ major trading partner and source of financial flows. Rising trade tensions and oil price volatility further raise the external risks. At the same time, elevated political polarisation in several countries in the region, as well as weather-related shocks affecting agricultural and energy production, add to domestic uncertainties.”
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