Central and Eastern Europe to remain the growth engine of Europe


Since 2009 Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has become increasingly attractive to investors due to their progressive adjustment programs to new financial environment together with significantly reduced current account deficits, highly qualified and flexible labor market and yet propitious cost structure.

Although still largely dependent on Western Europe and specially on Germany as main commercial partner, the region has in general sustainable public finances and keeps attracting foreign investment. The fundamentals of the region are very sound and to stay.

The region’s geographical position, public and EU incentives and an highly qualified work force has convinced many multinationals to choose CEE as their platform for the 500 million EU market.

The fast developing infrastructure on the region, supported by massive inflows of EU structural and cohesion funds, is contributing to a fast growing economy.

According to IMF economic report 2013, the overall real GDP growth in CEE is expected to reach 2.2% in 2013, whereas in Eurozone it will be -0.5%. The region is expected to be growing at 3,8% in 2008, making it one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

The CEE (excluding Russia) is currently also the most active M&A region in Europe, which shows the dynamic and growth interest.

Poland has been accounted as the strongest economy of the region, the only one in Europe to achieve positive GDP back in 2009 and one of the few EU countries with liquid public debt market. Poland´s strong factors are:

1.large domestic market and with high growth potential;
2.strategic geographic location – being in the center of Europe means Poland acts as a gateway to both Eastern and Western Europe;
3.political and economic stability – clear institutional framework for private investment and healthy financial system;
4.skilled workforce with highly qualified workers and specialists;
5.main beneficiary of EU structural funds with very attractive investment conditions offered in special regions;

Poland has also developed strong capabilities in numerous diversified industries such as aerospace, aviation, furniture, consumer appliances, technology, machinery, among others.

Ukraine is the largest country in Europe and also it´s eastern border with Russia. The country is affected by its unstable political system and risky legal system as well as corruption. The country has a 46 million population and a large economic development potential which is expected to take place as soon as these challenges are overcome. It can be considered the highest potential catch up market in the region with very low market saturation which leads to potentially higher return opportunities.

Romania is the largest South East Europe country with 22 million inhabitants. It has a strong base of natural resources, which includes oil and gas and has always been strong in agriculture. Although strongly hit by the 2008 crisis, the economy has strong fundamentals, is part of the EU and assumes a strong geographical location.

Czech Republic is the most developed country in the region (together with Slovenia) with a GDP per capita of $27,191 (IMF, 2012) and the one with a more mature economy. It´s proximity to the West has made it a preferential investment location.

The economies of the Ex-Yugoslavia have been in worse situation with recessions caused by its bad loan ratios and by its small domestic markets and heavy dependence on exports to the EU.

In a nutshell, the CEE region has large fundamental reasons to enter in a medium-long term catch up growth pattern. In fact, it is the emerging region geographically better located to some of the world´s largest economies.

By : GUILHERME MYR /January 23, 2014 /Central and Eastern Europe, Insight /0 Comment

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