Over the coming years, the CEE region will continue to be a region that is economically heterogeneous, in the sense of showing a North-South divide, and dependent on the strength of the Eurozone. The negative effects of this are less serious for countries with strong domestic demand, such as Poland, than countries that are small and export-oriented. From an economic point of view, the greatest risks facing these markets are a too small rate of growth in the Eurozone and a failure to make important reforms.
With respect to global competition, an economic slowdown in China and the USA is quite possible. Due to close trading relationships with these economic driver countries, this would have a direct impact on regions like Brazil and India. The CEE region, on the other hand, would become comparatively more attractive for foreign investors.
All of the CEE countries essentially offer enormous long-term potential with respect to income growth and insurance density. With regard to Poland in particular, the middle class of people with purchasing power will be larger in absolute terms than in Austria by 2015 at the latest. Growth also did not suffer as much in this country as elsewhere during the crisis, thanks to the strong domestic market.
In many countries, such as Romania, future development of the insurance market still depends greatly on the implementation of national reforms. Reforms of the social, healthcare and pension insurance systems are being planned in many CEE countries.
Ukraine, a country with great potential but also a great need for reforms, shows particularly good growth in the agricultural industry and related production sectors. Rising purchasing power and a related increase in demand for insurance by private households is seen as an attractive long-term scenario for this country.
In the highly export-dependent Southern Balkan region, the imminent risk of a Greek exit from the European Monetary Union with an accompanying total collapse of demand from the Eurozone has diminished. Whether the small recovery in export demand in the EU countries in 2013 will also be sufficient to help growth in the Balkan region is questionable. In any case, the CEE region offers sufficient growth potential for insurance companies in the region.