Vienna Institute: Croatia Continuing to Slow Down, Kosovo is Rising Star

As Adriano Milovan/Novac writes on the 2nd of April, 2019, the economic expansion period for most of the transition countries, including the Republic of Croatia, is now over, and in the coming years we can count only on very modest rates of economic growth, this was the message from experts from the renowned Vienna Institute for International Economics Studies (WIIW).

According to the latest forecasts of the Vienna Institute, this year, Croatia can expect a growth rate of 2.6 percent. However, in the coming years, economic growth will slow down even more, meaning that the Croatian economy will likely grow at a rate of 2.5 percent in 2020 and again in 2021. Although the GDP growth rate of 2.5 percent doesn't deviate much from the previous growth rates in Croatia, given that they were still less than in other comparable countries of the so-called "New Europe", it's worth noting that this rate is still less than was previously expected.

Additionally, and more concerningly yet, the Republic of Croatia will be among the new EU member states with the lowest rates of economic growth of all. On the other hand, the fastest growing economies among transition countries will rather surprisingly be non-EU European countries, such as Kosovo and Albania and even more surprisingly, Moldova, at least according to an analysis taken by the esteemed Vienna Institute. According to these forecasts, Kosovo's economy, for example, was to grow at a rate of 4.1 percent this year, in the following year at a rate of four percent, and in 2021, at a rate of 3.9 percent.

In their forecasts, the analysts of the Vienna Institute cited the slowdown of economic growth in the world as a whole, especially in Germany, and the strengthening of protectionism in world trade and uncertainty brought about by Brexit (should it occur at all), as among the main reasons for the ''cooling'' of the transition economies.

Openly, however, the question remains about how the current crisis in Uljanik will reflect on the Croatian economy as a whole. Vladimir Gligorov, a longtime analyst at the Vienna Institute and now an external associate, says the events in Uljanik will have negative effects on the Croatian economy in the short term, primarily through the activation of state guarantees and the cost of dealing with former workers who will be left jobless, but in the medium term, it shouldn't actually reflect all that much on the macroeconomic image of the country that significantly.

The attitudes of Croatian macroeconomists, Zeljko Lovrinčević from the Zagreb Institute of Economics and Zdeslav Šantić, the chief economist of OTP banka, don't differ significantly from the above statement from the Vienna Institute, and they also don't expect huge consequences on the Croatian economy from the collapse of Uljanik. Moreover, Lovrinčević believes that the first half of this year could be even better for Croatia than expected, whereas we will likely only feel a slight slowdown in the second half of this year and next year.

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Click here for the original article by Adriano Milovan for Novac/Jutarnji