Serbia could privatise up to 100 state-owned companies and enact wide-ranging reform of the business environment if the government is re-elected in next month’s general election, Ivica Dacic, prime minister (pictured), has told beyondbrics in exclusive comments.
But can he deliver? Continue reading »
Five per cent GDP growth is these days more associated with the fittest Asian and African emerging economies than the sluggish EU fringe, but Romania has sprung a surprise with its Q4 2013 figures, its best for five years.
A flash estimate from Bucharest’s National Institute of Statistics on February 14 suggests that the economy grew by 5.2 per cent year-on-year in the final quarter of last year. This takes its full-year rate to 3.5 per cent, among the fastest in Europe and appreciably above a recent IMF forecast of 2.8 per cent. Meanwhile inflation, once a serious concern, fell to an all-time low of 1.1 per cent in January. Continue reading »
Finance Minister Uros Cufer
Slovenia is set to join a regional rush to the bond markets as it seeks to borrow €3.5bn, equivalent to around 10 per cent of its annual GDP, this year. The government announced that it would raise the cash largely through “long-term borrowing through issuing sovereign bonds”, with some short-term local notes also likely to be issued.
The statement raised the possibility of using the funds to help finance a €4.8bn bank bailout announced in December, which includes a €3.2bn recapitalisation programme. The government is confident that this can be met without resorting to an international bailout of the sort that has placed severe strictures on other eurozone countries such as Greece and Portugal. Continue reading »
In recent weeks, much has been made of Romanians’ desire to leave their country and work abroad, partly due to the weakness of Romania’s own economy. On Wednesday, the country’s central bank made an ambitious move that may help that economy, the second poorest in the EU, by cutting rates to a record low and easing reserve requirements. Continue reading »
Just over a decade ago, in the wake of the bloody Yugolsav Wars, Serbia was regarded as a pariah by many European countries. Next month, it will start negotiations for membership of the European Union.
A rogue state no more, the beginning of formal talks on a wide range of policy areas (“chapters”) indicates how far the country has come. But the way ahead is not an easy one, entailing many years of difficult reforms. Continue reading »
Serbia’s national bank has delivered an early Christmas present to borrowers with another interest rate cut, its third in succession.
The move comes as talk of a snap election next year intensifies, raising concerns about the short-term economic outlook and the future of the government’s promised austerity measures. Continue reading »
Slovenia is no longer the Switzerland of Eastern Europe – but perhaps not the Cyprus or Ireland, either.
Slovenia’s government is confident that it can now dodge the bullet of an international bailout, announcing on Thursday that it would be able to cover a whopping €3bn recapitalisation of its troubled banks from its own resources, despite that sum totalling nearly 10 per cent of GDP. While the announcement has been made with a palpable sense of relief in the tiny eurozone country, questions remain about implementation – and whether the absence of international pressure will allow Slovenia to stall on much-needed reforms. Continue reading »
Croatia’s accession to the European Union on July 1 may have been hugely significant for a country putting years of Communist dictatorship and subsequent war behind it. But its first three months of membership have been characterised by economic decline, rather than the hoped-for resurgence. And the immediate outlook is not much sunnier. Continue reading »
A CNN affiliate has launched a broadside against the Serbian government over a draft law that it says restricts media freedom, threatening to take the case to European level if Belgrade does not back down.
Brent Sadler, a veteran CNN reporter and now chief executive of N1, an affiliated local-language 24-hour news channel that would broadcast to Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia from their capital cities, told beyondbrics that the proposed electronic media law would “strangle the channel before it is born”. Continue reading »
Masked men storming polling stations, assaulting officials and voters and throwing gas bombs; ballot boxes disappearing; international observers fleeing for their safety; an atmosphere of intimidation. Sunday’s local elections in Kosovo were not quite the affirmation of new-found inter-ethnic cooperation and free and fair democracy the European Union had hoped for. Serbia will wish to disassociate itself from the violence swiftly, lest it prove a setback to its budding hopes of EU accession, and the investment related to it. Continue reading »
It was the biggest initial public offering in Romania’s history, and the latest of several big IPOs in eastern Europe. But will Friday’s part-privatisation of natural-gas utility Romgaz reinvigorate Romania’s stalled liberalisation programme? Continue reading »
Just days before Serbia unveils its rebranded flag carrier in partnership with the UAE’s Etihad, Croatia has announced that it is seeking a strategic investor with ambitious plans for its own national airline. Where national carriers seemed to be dying off, killed by competition from budget carriers and western European rivals, there is now real hope of revival. Continue reading »