Economic growth in the Western Balkan region will accelerate to 3.2 percent next year and to 3.6 percent in 2018 on the back of recovering domestic consumption, rising investment and higher exports, the World Bank said in a report published on Tuesday.
The bank had previously forecast 2017 growth of 3 percent for the region, which comprises Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro – all candidates for European Union membership.
It also slightly raised its 2016 growth forecast to 2.7 percent from 2.6 percent, but added a note of caution.
“The sluggish expansion in the EU, the uncertainty about the implications of Brexit, continued weakness in Greece, the political tensions in Turkey and the refugee crisis will continue to weigh on growth prospects,” it said.
Britain voted in June to leave the EU in a process, known as Brexit, likely to take years. Heavily indebted Greece remains dependent on international loans to keep its economy afloat and investors also remain concerned about Turkey’s prospects following a failed military coup there in July.
Despite such concerns, the World Bank raised its 2016 growth forecast for Serbia, the largest economy in the Western Balkans, to 2.5 percent from 1.8 percent.