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Competitiveness in South East Europe

A Policy Outlook 2018

image of Competitiveness in South East Europe

Future economic development and the well-being of citizens in South East Europe (SEE) increasingly depend on greater economic competitiveness. Realising the region’s economic potential requires a holistic, growth-oriented policy approach. Against the backdrop of enhanced European Union (EU) accession prospects and a drive towards deeper regional co-operation, SEE governments have demonstrated a renewed commitment to enacting policy reforms.

 

The second edition of Competitiveness in South East Europe: A Policy Outlook seeks to help SEE policy makers assess progress made towards their growth goals and benchmark them against regional peers and OECD good practices. The 17 policy dimensions addressed in this report encompass a wide range of areas key to economic competitiveness including the business environment, skills and capacity, the region's economic structure and its governance. The report leveraged a highly participatory assessment process which brought together more than 1 500 individual stakeholders including OECD experts, SEE policy makers, private sector representatives and regional policy networks and organisations to create a balanced view of performance.

Since the latest edition of the report, there have been areas of noteworthy progress. The six assessed SEE economies have adopted strategies to improve the overall standard of education, acted to remove technical barriers to trade and taken steps to establish better financing mechanisms for small and medium-sized enterprises. Further efforts are underway to expand broadband services and close the digital divide, tackle inefficiencies in the energy and agriculture sectors, and address demographic challenges posed by long-term unemployment. Notwithstanding these important gains, there remain considerable challenges for these economies as they continue their journey towards structural reform.

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Trade policy and facilitation in South East Europe

This chapter on trade policy and facilitation assesses the policy settings, strategies, processes and institutions in six South East European economies. After a brief overview of trade performance in South East Europe (SEE), including exports of goods and services, trading partners, and the evolution of regional and international trade, the chapter focuses on four key sub-dimensions. The first sub-dimension, trade policy formulation and evaluation, analyses government capacities for designing, implementing and evaluating trade policy, including institutional co-ordination, public-private consultations, and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The second, trade liberalisation, examines international agreements and domestic laws liberalising trade. The third, trade facilitation, considers whether non-tariff barriers (technical barriers, sanitary and phytosanitary measures) are hindering trade, and how far trade facilitation measures are being implemented. Finally, the export promotion sub-dimension analyses how efficiency and effectiveness of the institutional and operational settings for export promotion. The chapter includes suggestions for policy enhancements for each of these sub-dimensions in order to improve trade performance and in turn increase the economies’ competitiveness.

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