Region expected to see economic growth


Many regional countries are poised to see GDP growth this year, compared to 2013. In other business news: Syrians were the biggest foreign investors in Turkish start-ups in 2013, and Bulgaria and Albania are seeking a new business partnership.

Two women shop in Tirana. Albania's economy is expected to increase by 2 percent this year, according to the World Bank. [AFP]

Economic growth in most countries in the Balkans will accelerate this year, according to the World Bank's latest Global Economic Prospects report. Albania's GDP will increase by 2 percent compared to 1.3 percent in 2013. Expected growth in Bosnia and Herzegovina is 2 percent vs 1.5 percent; in Bulgaria it will be 1.7 percent vs 0.6 percent; in Macedonia, 3 percent vs 2.5 percent; and in Montenegro 2.5 percent compared to 1.8 percent last year. Economic growth in Romania will remain unchanged at 2.5 percent, while in Serbia it will slow to 1 percent from 2 percent in 2013. Turkey is also expected to register a lower GDP growth of 3.5 percent compared to 4.3 percent last year.


A consortium of building giant Bechtel American and Turkey's Enka plans to build a 65-kilometre highway that will connect Kosovo's capital of Pristina with the town of Hani I Elezit at the border with Macedonia. The winning bid was worth approximately 600 million euros. The construction will take 42 months, beginning the day the contract is signed.


Romanian and Bulgarian investors are planning to build three bridges to connect the two countries over the Danube River, Bulgaria Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said. The new bridges at Silistra-Calarasi, Oryahovo-Beckett and Nikopol-Turnu Magurele are part of the European Commission's action plan for implementing the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.


Kosovo has asked the IMF to launch talks on a new precautionary programme, said the Fund's Kosovo mission chief Jacques Alain Miniane. A previous 30-month stand-by arrangement, worth 107 million euros, came to an end last month.


Bulgaria and Albania are seeking a new business partnership that will bring significant change in the level of economic exchange between the two countries, Bulgaria President Rosen Plevneliev and Albanian businessmen agreed at a meeting in Tirana. Banking and tourism were indicated as two sectors where progress has already been marked, while energy, transport infrastructure and the pharmaceutical industry were mentioned as areas with co-operation potential.


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Greece's leading fast food chain Goody's has opened its first store in Macedonia. The franchise is operating in Skopje. Goody's has more than 185 restaurants in Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus and Portugal.


Syrians were the biggest foreign investors in Turkish start-ups in 2013, according to data from the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey. More than 49,000 companies were registered in Turkey last year. Of them, 3,875 are foreign-owned, with more than 10 percent of that number, or 489, being Syrian-owned either directly or through partnerships.

(Various sources -- 15/01/14-22/01/14)

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