Voices from Europe & Central Asia
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After the storm: Time to rebuild faster and stronger

Lilia Burunciuc's picture
Also available in: Русский
With every calamity comes an opportunity: to rebound and rebuild stronger than before. The economies of Central Asia faced such an opportunity following the major economic shock they experienced at the end of 2014. The collapse in commodity prices affected not only oil-producing countries – highlighting the narrow production base on which their prosperity rests – but also oil importers, whose growth depends largely on remittance-fueled demand.

All countries in the region experienced significant welfare losses. In 2015-16, the volume of imports declined 15% in both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and 25% in Kyrgyzstan – a clear sign that households and firms were constrained.

After the initial shock, however, the economies of Central Asia rebounded. This was thanks to supportive fiscal and monetary policies, namely fiscal expansion and relatively lose monetary policy. Growth has picked-up: for Central Asia, as a whole, it is now projected to reach 4.4% in 2017, against 2.8% the year before. Inflation has returned to manageable levels: in Kazakhstan, it has plummeted down from the double-digit rates seen after the fall in oil prices, confirming that the previous spike was merely a one-time adjustment.

But, have the countries of Central Asia done enough to shift the focus from structural constraints to durable prosperity? According to the recently released Economic Update for Europe and Central Asia, important challenges still lie ahead.

A Toast to Food: Looking for innovation in Croatia’s food industry

Also available in: Русский
Innovation in food may seem obscure. There are only so many ways you can cut a carrot and you cannot simply reinvent the pig. But in an increasingly busy and wealthy world, the nature of demand for food is changing and scope exists for innovation in the way we deliver food to match people’s lifestyles. With demand for such new segments rapidly growing across Europe, Croatia seems well-poised to exploit this trend.

So why aren’t more farmers and firms champing at the bit to get a piece of this economic pie?



 

Taking a proactive approach to climate extremes in Serbia

Darko Milutin's picture
Also available in: Српски | Русский

A severe and prolonged heat wave stifled much of Central Europe this summer, buckling train tracks in Serbia and forcing at least 10 countries to issue red alerts for health concerns and water conservation. Once a rare nuisance, extreme weather events like this are becoming more commonplace throughout the region – and more dangerous.

These challenges have prompted the government of Serbia to take a proactive approach to building resilience to climate and disaster risks over the last few years.

Aktau – the gateway to Kazakhstan

Ato Brown's picture
Also available in: Русский

Almost all the necessary facilities for investors are in place in the region, including the Sea Port Aktau economic zone.

Although Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world, whenever we come to the country we tend to land in just one of two places: Astana (the capital) or Almaty (the former capital). We hear a lot about the oil-rich west, but few of us go there to explore business opportunities – a big mistake in my view. From what I’ve seen, I would claim that Aktau – in the western Mangystau region - is a gateway to Kazakhstan.

What do we know about the development outcomes of LGBTI people?

Dominik Koehler's picture
We all know, sadly, that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people suffer discrimination and stigma. This happens around the world, particularly in developing countries.  But how does this discrimination affect their lives, their development outcomes? 

Let’s find out.
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What happens if you don’t pay your bill? Lessons from Central and Eastern Europe

Georgia Harley's picture
Also available in: Македонски


We all have regular bills to pay for the ubiquitous services we consume – whether they be for utilities (water, heating, electricity etc.), credit cards, memberships, or car payments.  But, not everyone pays.  

So why don’t people pay?  Why are some countries better at this than others?  And what can be done to improve systems for debt collection?

Come for the job, stay for the city: The attraction of magnet cities in Romania

Marcel Ionescu-Heroiu's picture
Also available in: Română
Photo by Shutterstock.com

When looking at the findings from a recent report, you will be struck to learn that more than 15% of people in Romania would consider moving to Cluj-Napoca. Today, however, this Functional Urban Area (FUA)* represents just 2.3% of the total population in the country. Cluj-Napoca is not alone in serving as an attractive urban destination – many people also expressed interest in moving to Bucharest (14.4%), Timișoara (11.9%), Brașov (11.5%), Sibiu (5.16%), or Iași (4.3%).

So, what, then, are the local administrations in these dynamic FUAs doing to attract these people?
 
The unpleasant answer is: not much, unfortunately.

How can we ensure that fewer people die on Romania’s roads?

Radoslaw Czapski's picture
Also available in: Română | Русский


Ask any resident of Romania whether their roads are safe and they will answer a resounding “no”. In 2016, fatalities on Romania's road reached 1,913 - more than double the number of fatalities compared with the EU-28 average of 925. Romania’s average fatality rate over the past six years has consistently been twice higher than the EU-28 average, registering around 91 fatalities per million people, compared to 51 for the rest of the EU.
 
Alarmingly, Romania’s fatality rate keeps increasing - reaching 95 per million people in 2016. In addition to the human tragedy this situation represents a huge economic cost. According to the General Transport Master Plan, costs of fatal road crashes in Romania are alarmingly high - estimated to be at least 1.2 billion euro (5.4 billion RON) per year.

Armenia’s future – imagined in drawings and words

Vigen Sargsyan's picture
Also available in: Հայերեն

Confessions of an Armenian (aspirational former) smoker

Vigen Sargsyan's picture
no smoking Armenia
First confession: I am a seasoned smoker.

Next confession: I have long dreamed of adding “former” to that status. From time to time, my inner struggle reaches a crescendo, but then the momentum vanishes until the next wave of self-examination.
 
Smoking is the worst, if not the most stupid habit I have. I definitely understand that the damage caused to my health from smoking cannot be undone. I suspect my habit is a bit generational: my father was a smoker – until the doctors came up with a verdict – and the smell of smoke has been at home since my childhood. My son picked it up too, unfortunately. The only change between the generations is that my dad smoked at the table; these days we lean on the balcony.

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