The Eurozone is the most important export market for countries in the CEE region. Because of this dependency, in addition to the Eurozone, economic growth will also increase slightly in the Central and Eastern European economic area in 2014 as compared to the previous year. However, while the countries of the Eurozone slowly approach a 1% rate of real economic growth, the IMF is forecasting real growth of 2.7% for the CEE region. Although this is still not a particularly overwhelming figure when compared with the past, particularly the years before 2008, if viewed in the context of positive growth in the Eurozone and the forecasts for subsequent years it is definitely a reason for cautious optimism. Starting in 2015 growth should be consistently higher than 3%, which means that sustained positive growth can be expected.
In addition, 2014 should be the last year that countries in the CEE region where VIG operates, specifically Serbia (-0.6%) and Slovenia (-1.0%), have to battle recessions. According to current forecasts, every VIG country will be able to record positive economic growth starting in 2015.
Achieving successful business performance nevertheless remains difficult in some countries. Net exports produce economic growth, but are still not growing in all countries. The countries are highly dependent on the Eurozone as an export market and on commodity prices, and political dependencies also exist. Expansive fiscal policy is likely in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania, but the opposite is generally expected in Albania and Serbia.
Current developments in the Ukraine represent a special case that is difficult to predict at the present time.
Therefore, in spite of optimistic expectations, it is still generally possible for external factors such as the failure to implement fiscal or structural policy measures or, in particular, an economic slowdown in Southern and Western Europe to have a negative effect also on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, if the Eurozone records better growth than expected, the larger countries like Poland and the Czech Republic could recover more quickly and boost growth in the entire CEE region. The GIIPS countries in particular have been showing relatively optimistic signals recently, which also contributes to the general stabilisation of the Western European economy.
The CEE still remains a heterogeneous region, with a North-South divide and a wide variety of problems, particularly structural problems. At the same time, it is a region with higher growth than the Eurozone and great potential for companies willing to play a role in systematic convergence processes in order to benefit from successes in the future.