Economic activity is slowing in the Western Balkans, as investments and exports continue to fade in the six countries around the region, the World Bank warned on Tuesday, pointing to worrying findings of the last six-month analysis of economic trends in that part of Europe.
Growth is estimated at 3.2% in 2019, down from 3.9% in 2018, shows the latest Western Balkans Regular Economic Report, published by the World Bank office in Sarajevo.
"While growth in North Macedonia has continued to pick up following a major slowdown in 2019, and is expected to remain strong in Kosovo at 4.0 percent, most economies in the region are seeing slower growth compared to one year ago," reads the report.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia are expected to record a growth of slightly over 3% while for Albania the growth forecast is at 2.9%. While the regional economy is forecast to grow in 2020 and 2021, the World Bank estimates that it will remain slightly below the ten year high of 2018.
In 2018 Montenegro recorded an economic growth of as much as 4.9% while Serbia recorded 4.2%.
Despite the economic slowdown, unemployment continued to decline in the region – falling to historic levels, says the World Bank.
"By June of this year, 150,000 more jobs had been created in the region, compared to one year earlier. This trend also included 43,000 jobs for young people, with Albania accounting for nearly half of these jobs."
Even with these positive economic developments, just 44% of working-age people in the Western Balkans has a job, says the World Bank.