Western Balkan countries face recession due to virus pandemic: World Bank

Linda Van Gelder, WB country director for the Western Balkans

The Western Balkan countries are expected to enter a recession this year, a direct consequence of the coronavirus pandemics, the latest Regular Economic Report of the World Bank shows.

Regional growth in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) is forecast to be between -3 and -5.6 %, the World Bank said, cited by ANSA.

The most optimistic scenario foresees that the outbreak of coronavirus in Europe begins to slow soon, with the lockdown measures being lifted by the end of June, while the worst-case scenario assumes that containment measures can only be lifted at end of August.

Even if economic life can resume by the beginning of summer, Albania can expect a 5% contraction of its economy, the World Bank forecasted, while in a downside scenario the drop of GDP will reach -6.9%. Bosnia and Herzegovina may expect a contraction between -3.2% and -4.2%, Kosovo between -4.5% and -11.3%, Montenegro between -5.6% and -8.9%, North Macedonia between -1.4% and -3.2%, and Serbia between -2.5% and -5.3%.

"The magnitude of the recession depends on the duration of the pandemic in Europe," said Linda Van Gelder, World Bank Country Director for the Western Balkans. "While the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic in the region is difficult to forecast, there is little doubt that this pandemic is wreaking havoc on lives around the region - taxing health care systems, paralyzing economic activity, and undermining the wellbeing of people," Van Gelder noted.

The main risk for the region is a prolonged pandemic, combined with a deeper recession in the European Union, which "could make the unfolding economic crisis difficult to handle," the World Bank underlined.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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