Western Balkans' economy to grow 3.7% in 2019-20, outlook vulnerable – World Bank

TIRANA (Albania), April 2 (SeeNews) – The World Bank said on Tuesday it foresees economic growth in the Western Balkans to average 3.7% in 2019-20 with outlook vulnerable to growing external and domestic risks.

Economic growth in the Western Balkans accelerated to 3.8% in 2018 from 2.6% in 2017, the World Bank said in a press release, following the presentation of its latest Western Balkans regular economic report in Tirana.

The bank noted that outlook is vulnerable to growing external and domestic risks, including geopolitical and trade disputes and a slower-than-expected pace of structural reforms.

“According to the report, countries in the region (Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) now have an opportunity to advance reforms to mitigate these risks amid growing public demand for greater economic opportunities,” the bank said.

“Policymakers in the region should look to implement reforms that can help generate a sustained growth momentum that spurs job creation,” World Bank director for the Western Balkans, Linda Van Gelder, said.

According to the report, Albania’s economy grew by 4.2% in 2018.

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“External and fiscal imbalances improved, job creation encouraged more people to join the labor force, and public debt were reduced.”

Albania’s economic growth is expected to decelerate to 3.8% and 3.6% in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

“Further growth sustainability would require a faster pace of structural reforms and progress with EU accession,” World Bank country manager for Albania, Maryam Salim, said. “Efforts to sustain fiscal consolidation, mitigate fiscal risks, and accelerate energy sector reform are needed to safeguard macroeconomic sustainability. Improving the business climate and the rule of law remain priorities and should be complemented by investments in infrastructure and human capital.”

The Western Balkan countries need to advance reforms to boost productivity, stimulate growth, and create jobs, the World Bank noted.

Real GPD growth in the Western Balkans (percentage change) follow:

20172018e2019f2020f
Albania3.84.23.83.6
Bosnia and Herzegovina3.23.03.43.9
Kosovo4.24.24.44.5
North Macedonia0.22.72.93.2
Montenegro4.74.42.92.4
Serbia2.04.23.54.0
Western Balkans2.63.83.53.8

Source: Central banks and national statistics offices; World Bank estimates and projections

Source: seenews.com/news

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