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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.
Ebrahim-zadeh Christine

One of the main points of contention surrounding globalization is whether the flow of technology, skills, culture, ideas, news, information, entertainment, and people across borders consigns many parts of the world to grinding poverty. On February 18, Jagdish Bhagwati (Professor, Columbia University), in discussing his new book, In Defense of Globalization, took on the skeptics, arguing that, when properly managed, globalization is the most powerful force for social good in the world today. The venue was an IMF Economic Forum moderated by Raghuram Rajan (Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department) and with commentary by Daniel Yergin (Chair, Cambridge Energy Research Associates and author of The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy).

International Monetary Fund
This paper asks 1) whether reliance on Eurobond financing over the medium term is consistent with sound debt management policy and 2) whether Macedonia can reasonably expect Eurobond borrowing costs to fall in the future. The main conclusions are that Eurobond financing appears justified in the near term but over a longer horizon, the country should seek to develop domestic debt markets as a complementary funding source. For 2011–12, the government plans to fully finance its fiscal deficits though Eurobond issues.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
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.
Mr. Etienne B Yehoue
The recent experience of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has stimulated the debate over currency union and reinforced the incentive for the emergence of currency blocs in other regions of the world. This paper builds a dynamic stochastic model-based on network externalities operating through trade channels-to explain the emergence of currency blocs, and specifically, why some countries join a currency union earlier than others. The paper develops and formalizes the intuition that currency bloc formation is path dependent, and that countries join currency blocs sooner the more they trade with the bloc member countries, with each additional member serving in a dynamic way to attract more members into the bloc. Evidence from the current pattern of EMU expansion supports the model, which is later used to elaborate on the pattern of further expansion of the union.
Alexander F. Tieman
This paper describes the current state of the Macedonian electricity sector. It looks at ongoing structural changes, driven by the gradual adoption of the EU acquis on energy, and comes up with estimates for electricity subsidies. It concludes by discussing the longer term outlook and sketching policy options.