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Mr. Nadeem Ilahi, Mrs. Armine Khachatryan, William Lindquist, Ms. Nhu Nguyen, Ms. Faezeh Raei, and Jesmin Rahman
In the past 25 years, exports have contributed strongly to growth and economic convergence in many small open economies. However, the Western Balkan (WB) region, consisting of small emerging market economies, has not fully availed itself of this driver of growth and convergence. A lack of openness, reliance on low value products, and weak competitiveness largely explain the insignificant role of trade and exports in the region’s economic performance. This paper focuses on how the countries in the WB could lift exports through stronger integration with global value chains (GVCs) and broadening of services exports. The experience of countries that joined the European Union in or after 2004 shows that participation in GVCs can help small economies accelerate export and income growth. WB countries are not well integrated into Europe’s vibrant GVCs. Trade within the region is also limited—it tends to be bilateral and not cluster-like. Our analysis shows that by improving infrastructure and labor skills and adopting trade policies that ensure investor protection and harmonize regulations and legal provisions, the region can greatly enhance its engagement with GVCs. Services exports are an increasingly important part of global trade, and they offer an untapped source of growth. The magnitude of services exports from the WB region compares favorably with that of peers in Europe, particularly in travel services where several of these countries have a revealed comparative advantage. But there is significant room for growth in tourism exports and an untapped potential in business and information technology services exports that these countries can materialize through policy efforts that increase openness and enhance connectivity and labor skills. Serbia offers a good example of how decisive efforts, including education policies to ensure a sustained supply of skilled labor, can help information technology services exports to take off.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper explores how intersectoral vulnerabilities and risks have shifted over 2001–17, and especially after the Global Financial Crisis. It analyzes financial positions at the sectoral levels deposit taking institutions and non-financial corporations, households, the public sector, and the Croatian National Bank by disaggregating them into instruments, currencies, and maturities. The paper has employed balance sheet analysis (BSA) to gauge cross-sectional exposures and risks. The BSA approach is a method to study an economy as a system of interlinked sectoral balance sheets. The policies to reduce the remaining vulnerabilities have also been discussed in the paper. Standard macroeconomic indicators demonstrate that Croatia’s overall external vulnerabilities have declined since 2010. However, the balance sheet matrix shows little improvement in reduction of important cross-sectoral dependencies and liabilities to the rest of the world over 2010–17. One of the recommendations made is to encourage deleveraging through specific policy options and strategies.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that after six years of persistent recession, Croatia’s economy is showing first signs of recovery. Robust retail sales and value-added tax receipts suggest that private consumption has bottomed out. Employment has stabilized and corporate profits are recovering. Tailwinds from a favorable external environment have helped, notably lower energy prices, stronger euro area growth, and ample domestic and external liquidity that contain debt servicing costs. For 2015, the economy is projected to grow by 0.5 percent. Net exports are expected to make a modest positive contribution to growth.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

Abstract

This report analyses the main economic developments and achievements in the Western Balkan countries, and lays out the key macroeconomic policy challenges for the future.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Sixth and Seventh Reviews Under the Stand-By Arrangement and Requests for Augmentation of Access and Modification of Performance Criteria (PC). Program performance became more uneven in late 2013 and early 2014, reflecting both economic factors and delays in policy implementation. Fiscal policies were broadly on track, but two end-December 2013 fiscal PCs were missed. As revenue collection steadily improved, all end-March 2014 PCs were met. Given the authorities’ overall performance and corrective actions, the IMF staff recommends the completion of the sixth and seventh reviews.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2014 Article IV Consultation highlights that Croatia remains stuck in an unusually drawn out recession. In 2013, real GDP contracted for the 5th consecutive year, and stands now at less than 90 percent of the end-2008 level. Unemployment has risen to 17 percent. Domestic demand remains depressed as corporations and households focus on reducing excessive debts accumulated in the 2000s. Exports and foreign direct investment are also feeble. The outlook is for an additional contraction in 2014 of almost 1 percent. Real domestic demand would remain feeble, reflecting both weak private sector demand and fiscal consolidation.