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Publication(Washington, DC, 2016-03-03) World BankDespite strong economic growth since 2000, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in the region. Excessive reliance on remittances, export dependency on a few products, and insufficient domestic job creation make the Moldovan economy highly vulnerable to external conditions. As a small and open economy, Moldova’s development potential is linked to its trade and investment integration strategy. Moldova is situated between two large markets: the European Union (EU), which absorbs more than half of Moldova’s exports, and the Russian Federation. Reducing the economic distance to large regional markets and reaping the benefits of openness is key to overcoming Moldova's structural constraints and spurring export-led growth. The objective of the Moldova Trade Study is to contribute to a better understanding of the factors and challenges underlying Moldova’s foreign trade performance and to identify policy interventions that can enhance the competitiveness of Moldova’s exporting firms and the value added of their exports. . The rest of the note is structured as follows: (ii) section two summarizes the analysis of Moldova’s export performance; (iii) section three focuses on constraints on Moldova’s competitiveness; (iv) in section four, the authors consider alternative trade policy scenarios and their implications for the Moldovan economy; (v) section five synthetizes existing analysis on constraints for agriculture competitiveness and exports, while section six evaluates the performance of free economic zones in Moldova. In the final section, the authors present policy recommendations
Publication(Washington, DC, 2016-03-03) World BankIn 1995, Moldova introduced free economic zone (FEZ) legislation with the aim of accelerating socioeconomic development by attracting domestic and foreign investment, promoting exports, and creating employment. Since then, seven free economic zones offering tax and customs benefits have been established. This note assesses the static and dynamic economic benefits of the program in Moldova. The free economic zones have been successful in attracting investment from both domestic and foreign sources. The economic zones have become true export platforms, generating a five-fold increase in exported industrial production from the zones between 2004 and 2014. On average, employment in the economic zones had a robust growth in the last seven years and almost doubled since 2008. Evidence suggests that the economic zones have significantly contributed to the diversification of exports and to the changing structure of the Moldovan economy. The effect of the economic zones on domestic firms appears to be modest, however, and unlikely to contribute to the technological upgrading and sophistication of the Moldovan economy. Free economic zones tend to attract industrial activities requiring intensive use of human resources for certain operations. The economic impact of Moldovan free economic zones is ambiguous. Moldovan legislation provides sound and transparent provisions, but the main issue is how this legislation is implemented. The majority of recommendations are focused on streamlining the implementation process, making it easier for companies to operate. Here are the main recommendations for improving the zones : (i) the importance of fiscal incentives should be downgraded by shifting to targeted services for businesses; (ii) reduce corruption and increase accountability by establishing one-stop-shop procedures and elements; (iii) establish a proper mechanism for monitoring and reporting with the zones residents and administrator; (iv) empower the regulator with additional relevant institutional capacities and capabilities; (v) the role of residents in appointing the administrator should be determinant; and (vi) establish a proper mechanism for compensating residents of the zones for restrictive treatment of the real assets.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-01-30) World BankAs a small economy, Moldova’s growth and development prospects are closely related to its performance in international and regional markets. In this report the authors have looked at the export performance and competitiveness of the Moldovan economy. This report provides an overview of Moldova’s trade competitiveness. Its objectives are twofold: (i) to present a comprehensive analysis of Moldova’s recent trade performance and (ii) to identify policy measures and interventions that can enhance the competitiveness of Moldova’s export firms and the value added of their exports. The report is divided into two main parts. Part one contains an exports outcome analysis. It assesses export performance along four dimensions that contribute to form a comprehensive picture of the sustainable competitiveness of the export sector, including (i) the level, growth, and market share performance of existing exports (the “intensive margin”); (ii) diversification of products and markets (the “extensive margin”); (iii) the quality and sophistication of exports (the “quality” margin); and (iv) the survival of export flows (the “sustainability margin”). Part two investigates constraints on Moldova’s competitiveness, focusing specifically on a series of supply-side factors, such as the role of backbone and input services and utilities, and access to finance; and the business environment, particularly government regulations affecting trade and governance and institutional quality. The rest of the report is structured as follows: Section two examines overall trends in trade flows, including the growth of exports and imports, the degree of trade openness, and the recent evolution in foreign direct investment flows. In Section three, the authors concentrate on export outcomes, analyzing the sectoral composition, the growth orientation, and degree of diversification of Moldovan exports. The authors also analyze the evolution in the quality and sophistication of exports and the survival of export relationships in different markets and sectors. In the second part of the report, the authors look at productivity dynamics of Moldovan firms in comparative perspective, and then investigate the impact of access to finance, backbone services, trade and customs regulations, and corruption on firm productivity. The authors conclude this report with policy recommendations to improve Moldova's export competitiveness and increase the product and market scope, quality, and sophistication of its export basket.