The EBRD Regional Director for the Western Balkans Zsuzsanna Hargitai said on Monday that the region can’t deal with the cost of the coronavirus pandemic on its own.
Speaking ahead of the European Union-Western Balkans summit, Hargitai said that “the cost of bringing the coronavirus under control was high”. “The Western Balkans countries cannot shoulder this burden alone. They do not enjoy the benefits of EU or Eurozone membership – but they are not alone,” a press release quoted her as saying.
She recalled that the EBRD, supporting Team Europe, “is at the forefront of supporting the countries of the region” and is planning investments of up to 1.7 billion Euro this year, following record investments of 1.3 billion in 2019. “One of the consequences of the crisis will be a redesign of global supply chains and this may open a historic window opportunity for the Western Balkans,” Hargitai said.
According to the EBRD press release, the pandemic is expected to result in a substantial drop in output. It added that “public health measures have severely affected domestic demand and domestic supply, likely resulting in the greatest disruption to global economic activity since the Second World War.”
“Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia, all of which have strong manufacturing bases, may be mostly hit through the disruption of global supply chains. Albania and Montenegro, which have a strong reliance on tourism, will be negatively affected by limitations of movement at home and in the main sending countries, while in Kosovo, (and to some extent in other Western Balkans countries), lower remittances will decrease domestic demand,” it added.