The Western Balkan countries will experience weak economic growth this year, according to a World Bank report. The report says that the six Western Balkan countries and territories, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia can expect to return to economic growth in 2021, following the region’s economic recession in 2020.
“After the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, which led to an estimated economic decline in the region of 3.4% last year, the Western Balkans region is expected to record a 4,4% economic growth in 2021,” the World Bank said.
Growth is expected to decline to 3.7% in 2022 and 2023, while the consequences of the pandemic will continue to hamper investments and employment in the region.
“We certainly see some positive trends in the region spurred by the rapid action taken by many countries to combat the worst effects of the pandemic, but the effects of the pandemic on health and economic devastation will continue to be felt,” said Linda Van Gelder, the World Bank’s regional director for the Western Balkans.
She added that the vaccination, together with increasing the economic outlook, improved consumption and retail activities, will help maintain this momentum, but also that countries must continue to focus their efforts on introducing and strengthening policies that lead to growth, health and human capital.
According to the World Bank, the unemployment rate in the Western Balkans, which fell from 13.5 per cent in 2019 to 12.6 per cent in 2020, is mainly a consequence of increased economic inactivity, with total job losses in the region reaching almost 70,000 by the end of 2020.
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