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Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-10-19) World BankIn the context of weakening global demand, growth in the Western Balkans decelerated over the course of 2022 and into 2023. Against the background of the lasting effects of shocks from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sticky inflation, and tighter financial conditions, global demand has been weakening, and this has a divergent impact across the Western Balkans (WB6). On the one hand, the slowdown in global demand contributed to weaker-than expected performance of industrial production in the whole European Union (EU) region and in the WB6. On the other hand, global demand has proved more resilient in services and, for travel, with twice as many people traveling globally during Q1 2023 as in the same period in 2022 (UNWTO). This has particularly benefited Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro, where services exports have reached new record highs. In contrast, weakening global demand for goods has weighed on Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), North Macedonia and Serbia. On the demand side, private consumption remained in general an important growth driver, despite rising price pressures. Reforms are needed to consolidate the recovery toward sustainable growth, while negotiations with the EU hold the potential to bolster prospects in the Western Balkans. As the WB6 agriculture sector is undergoing a major structural transformation, efforts to green agriculture are also important to ensure access to the EU market and for the competitiveness of agriculture, rural development, and food and nutrition security. Most WB6 countries have recently included agriculture greening in their development strategies. Historically, the environmental footprint of the WB6 agriculture sector has been relatively low. But this has been more an unintended outcome of still high rurality and low farming intensity rather than a result of public policy and expenditure choices. Agricultural public expenditures, while substantial in terms of amounts and adequate to influence agricultural production, have not yet prioritized financing of greening and climate-smart agriculture. It is important for the WB6 countries to accelerate greening of their agriculture by learning from the EU’s green transition and better utilization of the existing public funds available for agricultural development.
Publication(Washington, DC, 2022-10) World BankThe economies of the Western Balkans continue to face a turbulent external environment, placing households, firms, and governments under acute stress. Just as the post-COVID recovery of 2021 began to fade and the region returned to a normalized rate of economic growth, the Western Balkan region now faces a new combination of challenges. The war in Ukraine, and the resultant sharp increase and energy prices and slowdown in global growth, is weighing on economic performance in all six economies. Higher energy and food prices have pushed inflation to levels unseen for many years, eroding purchasing power and business confidence. Monetary tightening in advanced economies is pushing up financing costs and weakening external demand. Following a strong rebound in 2021, growth, although still robust, was on a decelerating path in the first half of 2022. In Q1 of 2022, the Western Balkan economies remained resilient overall, supported by sizable policy actions at the EU, euro area, and national levels. First-quarter growth was particularly strong in tourism-based economies and in Serbia. However, growth decelerated in Q2, as countries had to deal with the direct consequences of the war and is projected to continue decelerating in the second half of the year reflecting higher base levels of growth in Q3 and Q4 2021 and the stronger global headwinds.
Publication(Washington, DC, 2022) World BankBosnia and Herzegovina faces significant labor market challenges. While recovering from the COVID-19 crisis, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is struggling with persistent unemployment and a predicted rise in poverty. To further reduce the incidence of poverty, measures to create more job opportunities for all BiH citizens must be complemented by an effective social protection framework. This note presents a situational analysis of the social protection system in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It assesses the extent to which the social protection system fulfills its purpose; it also proposes policy priorities as well as areas for reform in the short, medium, and long term. The remainder of the note is organized as follows. Section 2 reviews the country’s main poverty and labor market outcomes; section 3 provides a brief overview of the social protection system; section 4 looks at non-contributory cash transfers to support the poor, the vulnerable and people with disabilities; section 5 examines social care services; section 6 analyzes pensions; section 7 explores employment and active labor market programs; section 8 reviews the social protection response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and section 9 concludes by identifying knowledge gaps and policy priorities for reform.