Economies of some countries expected to shrink


The World Bank issues a warning for several regional countries. Also in business news, Albania and Turkey get high marks as travel destinations.

Workers stack boxes of packed milk cartons at the Milkos dairy plant near Sarajevo. The World Bank says the economies of six countries in the region will likely shrink by 0.6 percent this year. [AFP]

The economies of six countries in Southeast Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) will shrink by 0.6 percent in 2012 and will face some serious risks in 2013, the World Bank said in its Southeast Europe Regular Economic Report published on December 18th. The risks are related particularly to the sluggish recovery in the eurozone and high commodity prices, the bank noted.


Albania and Turkey have been included in a list of 13 must-visit countries in 2013, published recently by a group of five leading travel bloggers. Albania is ranked second in the list due to its climate and Adriatic coast, and has been named as the best place to relax. Turkey's Istanbul, meanwhile, is at eighth place and is distinguished as a great place for spring holidays due to its rich choice of sightseeing activities.


Rating agency Standard and Poor's raised Greece's sovereign debt rating six notches, citing the strong determination of the eurozone member states to preserve Greek membership. Greece's rating has been upgraded from selective default to B-/B with stable outlook amid the government's commitment to fiscal and structural reforms.


Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Friday (December 21st) cut Cyprus' rating two notches into highly speculative territory. The move came amid the highly escalating financial pressure and uncertainty on the island, which continues to be in talks for a bailout package ahead of a presidential election. Cyprus' long-term sovereign credit rating is now at CCC+, seven steps into junk territory, with negative outlook.


Chinese, American and German companies are interested in building a channel connecting Belgrade and Thessaloniki that would go through the rivers of Danube, Morava and Vardar, Serbia Minister of Natural Resources, Mining and Spatial Planning Milan Bacevic told Tanjug. Some calculations suggest that the 655km-long waterway would be built for about 12 years, would cost $12 billion to $15 billion and would employ 30,000 workers. Bacevic expressed hope negotiations with the potential investors would end successfully next year.


The European Commission announced on Friday (December 21st) it has approved a request by Spanish authorities to extend temporary restrictions on the access of Romanian workers to the their labour market through 2013. The move came after a request by Spain made on December 13th. Restrictions on the free movement of the EU's youngest members Bulgaria and Romania must be lifted by all member states as of January 1st 2014.


Businessmen from northern Kosovo decided on Thursday (December 20th) to block all roads leading to Kosovo for two hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in protest to agreements reached in Brussels regulating customs duties with Serbia. The two sides began implementation of the integrated border management agreement on December 9th. Protestors argue that the deal has led to a hike in the prices of goods in the northern part of Kosovo.


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The IMF announced on Thursday (December 20th) it has approved a 58.9m-euro tranche as part of its standby arrangement for BiH. Thus, the total disbursements made so far under the two-year 393m-euro deal with the Balkan country reached in September, total 117.9m euros.


Turkey has no definite plans to build a nuclear power plant or a thermal power plant on its border with Bulgaria, Bulgaria's Economy Minister Delyan Dobrev stated Friday (December 21st). The statement came amid reports that the country's neighbour is mulling on such a facility in the Black Sea town of Igneada near Rezovo in Bulgaria.

(Various sources -- 18/12/12-23/12/12)

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