International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Published since 1950, this authoritative annual reference is based upon a unique IMF database that tracks exchange and trade arrangements for the 187 IMF member countries, along with Hong Kong SAR, Aruba, and Curaçao and St Maarten. The Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions (AREAER) draws together information on exchange measures in place, the structure and setting of exchange rates, arrangements for payments and receipts, procedures for resident and nonresident accounts, controls on capital transactions, and provisions specific to the financial sector. The 52 countries covered in this special supplement have been selected as those where expanded information on the regulatory framework for capital movements was readily available to the IMF. They include countries that participated in a pilot data collection project on the regulatory framework for capital transactions conducted by the IMF in 1996, and member countries of the OECD.
After the collapse of socialist regimes in the early 1990s, ensuing conflicts in the region caused major disruptions, and income per capita fell. The pace of recovery was uneven in the second half of the 1990s: some countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia experienced a sharp turnaround in growth, while others such as Serbia and Albania faced high growth volatility. By the end of the decade, however, real GDP per capita in the region had recovered to its pre-1990 level, despite another recession around the turn of the century, when output in Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia shrank by over 10 percent in a single year.
This chapter reviews macroeconomic developments in the Western Balkans over the past 15 years. The countries of the region underwent substantial changes as they made the transition toward a more market-oriented model. In terms of the external environment, the period is dominated by two events: the introduction of the euro in 1999, and the financial crisis that swept across the globe starting in 2007. The euro brought further integration of capital markets in advanced EU economies; the global financial crisis interrupted capital flows significantly. For the Western Balkans, which had substantial capital needs, both events were very significant.
In the years since 2000, transition and transformation in the Western Balkans have been particularly significant in the banking sector. These banking systems have undergone significant financial deepening, more so than did those of the New Member States at the same stage of economic transition. In the run-up to the global financial crisis, the banking systems of the Western Balkans relied less on fast-moving wholesale funding than did the New Member States (with the exception of Montenegro), which suggests that a significant part of the precrisis credit expansion in these countries was perhaps part of a long-term trend of financial deepening. But financial development in the Western Balkans over this period has also been uneven. While banking sectors have developed rapidly, growth of nonbank financial services has been lackluster, with equity, pension, and insurance markets remaining shallow and corporate debt markets largely nonexistent, even today.
Mr. Ruben V Atoyan, Ms. Dora Benedek, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Giuseppe Cipollone, Mr. Jacques A Miniane, Ms. Nhu Nguyen, Mr. Martin Petri, Mr. Jens Reinke, and Mr. James Roaf
An assessment of public infrastructure development in the Western Balkans. The paper quantifies the large gaps across various sectors/dimensions, evaluates current infrastructure plans, and discusses funding options available to countries in the region. The paper also identifies important bottlenecks for increased infrastructure investment. Finally, the paper quantifies potential growth benefits from addressing infrastructure gaps, concluding that boosting the quantity and quality of infrastructure is vital for raising economic growth and accelerating income convergence with the EU. The paper concludes with country-specific policy recommendations.
Inflation in Southeastern European (SEE) countries has been comparable with euro area inflation, partly owing to on the one hand, high initial price levels. On the other hand, the exchange rate regime is of paramount importance, including the inflation-targeting regime pursued in Albania. The analysis also explores additional heterogeneity between SEE and other regions. Two fiscal rules—a debt rule and an expenditure rule with a debt brake—are discussed in the context of Albania’s current economic outlook. Both rules will contribute toward enhancing fiscal sustainability in Albania.
This paper discusses the first phase, to be constructed from 2015 to mid-2019, comprises a 41-kilometer section that is to provide an efficient and safe transport link between Podgorica and the poorest northern region in Montenegro. It runs through the mountainous terrain in the center of the country that is economically undeveloped. Due to its large cost (25 percent of 2017 GDP), the first phase of the highway has used up most of Montenegro’s fiscal space and will crowd out other productive spending. For the foreseeable future, the second and third parts of the highway could only be financed with concessional funds, because loans would destabilize the debt sustainability of Montenegro. The government’s main motivation for this large project is the need to improve connectivity, particularly to Europe through Serbia, boost tourism and trade, improve road safety, and strengthen national security. The highway is a part of Montenegro’s plans to integrate the Montenegrin transport network with those of neighboring countries.
Kosovo has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite policy support, economic activity is estimated to have fallen 6 percent in 2020 on account of the combined effect of strict domestic containment measures and international travel restrictions. The fiscal deficit increased to 7.7 percent of GDP, given the large fall in tax revenues and the implementation of mitigation and recovery measures of 4.2 percent of GDP. The current account deficit is estimated to have increased to 7.5 percent of GDP mainly due to a large decline in diaspora-related inflows, most notably in tourism. Gross international reserves declined but remain adequate in part due to the purchase under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) in April 2020 and the use of other external financing. Banks have weathered the recession well to date, and the high pre-COVID19 liquidity levels and ample capital buffers bode well for the system’s stability.
This Selected Issues paper on the Republic of Kosovo’s 2013 Article IV Consultation highlights growth and Kosovo’s external environment. In the wake of the global financial crisis, Kosovo’s economic growth slowed but remained positive, while most other Western Balkans slipped into recession. Moreover, the annual average growth rate has been among the highest in the Western Balkans since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007. Kosovo’s tax-to-GDP ratio is comparable to the average of Southeastern Europe, although its tax system relies significantly more on indirect taxation—including a high share of trade taxes. Kosovo’s reliance on trade taxes may create budgetary pressures in the event of further trade liberalization.
Since its independence in 2006, Montenegro has experienced an economic and financial roller coaster ride. The baseline is predicated on continued improvements in cost competitiveness and productivity-raising foreign direct investment (FDI). Avoiding a relapse into recession will thus require strengthening the health of the banking system and removing impediments to restructuring the economy. Montenegro’s attractiveness to investors will depend on reducing macroeconomic and structural vulnerabilities. The business environment needs to be further improved. Redressing solvency issues and improving liquidity were jointly seen as priority tasks.