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- Economy - overview: Lagging behind its Balkan neighbors, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth has averaged around 5% over the last five years and inflation is low and stable. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and recently adopted a fiscal reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment. The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad representing about 15% of GDP, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Energy shortages because of a reliance on hydropower, and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment and lack of success in attracting new foreign investment. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to improve transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. Also, with help from EU funds, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth.
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- Economy - overview: Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for more than 80% of GDP. An estimated 11.6 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and by its summer and winter resorts. Andorra's comparative advantage has recently eroded as the economies of neighboring France and Spain have been opened up, providing broader availability of goods and lower tariffs. The banking sector, with its partial "tax haven" status, also contributes substantially to the economy. Agricultural production is limited - only 2% of the land is arable - and most food has to be imported. The principal livestock activity is sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture. Andorra is a member of the EU Customs Union and is treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods (no tariffs) and as a non-EU member for agricultural products.
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- Economy - overview: Austria, with its well-developed market economy and high standard of living, is closely tied to other EU economies, especially Germany's. Its economy features a large service sector, a sound industrial sector, and a small, but highly developed agricultural sector. The global economic downturn led in 2008 to a recession that is widely expected to persist through 2009, following several years of solid demand for Austrian exports and record employment growth in 2008. During the recession, investment is likely to suffer and the Austrian government's economic stabilization measures could drive up the budget deficit from about 0.6% of GDP in 2008 to about 2.8% in 2009 and possibly above 3% in 2010. The Austrian economy has benefited greatly in the past from strong commercial relations, especially in the banking and insurance sectors, with central, eastern, and southeastern Europe, but these sectors have been vulnerable to recent international financial instabilities, and some of Austria's largest banks have required government support. Even after the global economic outlook improves, Austria will need to continue restructuring, emphasizing knowledge-based sectors of the economy, and encouraging greater labor flexibility and greater labor participation to offset its aging population and exceedingly low fertility rate.
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- Economy - overview: Belarus has seen little structural reform since 1995, when President LUKASHENKO launched the country on the path of "market socialism." In keeping with this policy, LUKASHENKO reimposed administrative controls over prices and currency exchange rates and expanded the state's right to intervene in the management of private enterprises. Since 2005, the government has re-nationalized a number of private companies. In addition, businesses have been subject to pressure by central and local governments, e.g., arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous rigorous inspections, retroactive application of new business regulations, and arrests of "disruptive" businessmen and factory owners. A wide range of redistributive policies has helped those at the bottom of the ladder; the Gini coefficient is among the lowest in the world. Because of these restrictive economic policies, Belarus has had trouble attracting foreign investment. Nevertheless, government statistics indicate GDP growth has been strong in recent years, reaching more than 8% in 2008, despite the roadblocks of a tough, centrally directed economy with a high rate of inflation. Belarus receives discounted oil and natural gas from Russia and much of Belarus' growth can be attributed to the re-export of Russian oil at market prices. Trade with Russia - by far its largest single trade partner - decreased in 2007-08, largely as a result of a change in the way the Value Added Tax (VAT) on trade was collected. Russia has introduced an export duty on oil shipped to Belarus, which will increase gradually through 2009, and a requirement that Belarusian duties on re-exported Russian oil be shared with Russia - 80% was slated to go to Russia in 2008, and 85% in 2009. Russia also increased Belarusian natural gas prices from $47 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) to $100 per tcm in 2007, and increased to $128 per tcm in 2008, and plans to increase prices gradually to world levels by 2011. Russia's recent policy of bringing energy prices for Belarus to world market levels may result in a slowdown in economic growth in Belarus over the next few years. Some policy measures, including improving energy efficiency and diversifying exports, have been introduced, but external borrowing has been the main mechanism used to manage the growing pressures on the economy. Belarus felt the effects of the global financial crisis in late 2008 and reached agreement with Russia in November for a $2 billion stabilization loan and with the IMF for a $2.5 billion stand-by agreement in January 2009. In line with IMF conditionality, Belarus devalued the ruble approximately 20% in January and has tightened some fiscal and monetary policies. Belarus's economic growth is likely to slow in 2009 as it faces decreasing demand for its exports, and will find it difficult to increase external borrowing if the credit markets continue to tighten.
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- In your pocket guide to Belarus
- Economy - overview: This modern, private-enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets. Roughly three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Public debt is more than 80% of GDP. On the positive side, the government succeeded in balancing its budget during the 2000-2008 period, and income distribution is relatively equal. Belgium began circulating the euro currency in January 2002. Economic growth and foreign direct investment dropped in 2008. In 2009 Belgium is likely to have negative growth, growing unemployment, and a 3% budget deficit, stemming from the worldwide banking crisis.
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- Robert Pepper's expats. guide Belgium Culture, worth a read
Expatica.com is a “must read” for the English-speaking expatriate community. The site features local and international news, community activities and services relevant to expatriates in the Netherlands, Belgium and soon Germany.
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- Economy - overview: The interethnic warfare in Bosnia and Herzegovina caused production to plummet by 80% from 1992 to 1995 and unemployment to soar. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-99 at high percentage rates from a low base; but output growth slowed in 2000-02. Part of the lag in output was made up in 2003-08 when GDP growth exceeded 5% per year. Banking reform accelerated in 2001 as all the Communist-era payments bureaus were shut down; foreign banks, primarily from Western Europe, now control most of the banking sector. The konvertibilna marka (convertible mark or BAM)- the national currency introduced in 1998 - is pegged to the euro, and confidence in the currency and the banking sector has increased. Bosnia's private sector is growing and foreign investment is slowly increasing, but government spending, at nearly 40% of adjusted GDP, remains high because of redundant government offices at the state, entity and municipal level. Implementing privatization, however, has been slow, particularly in the Federation where political division between ethnically-based political parties makes agreement on economic policy more difficult. A sizeable current account deficit and high unemployment rate remain the two most serious macroeconomic problems. Successful implementation of a value-added tax in 2006 provided a predictable source of revenue for the government and helped bring in gray market activity. National-level statistics have also improved over time but a large share of economic activity remains unofficial and unrecorded. Bosnia and Herzegovina became a full member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement in September 2007. Bosnia's economy has been largely sheltered from the global financial downtown although key economic indicators have worsened. Key exporters in the metal, automobile and wood processing industries have reported a worsening performance and have announced layoffs and output reductions.
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- Bosnia-Herzegovinan culture,academia and daily life Information about culture, academia and daily life.
- Economy - overview:Bulgaria, a former Communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, has experienced strong growth since a major economic downturn in 1996. Successive governments have demonstrated commitment to economic reforms and responsible fiscal planning, but have failed so far to rein in rising inflation and large current account deficits. Bulgaria has averaged more than 6% growth since 2004, attracting significant amounts of foreign direct investment, but corruption in the public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime remain significant challenges.
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- Bulgarian Coast Extensive tourist information about Bulgarian Black Sea coast
- Economy - overview:Once one of the wealthiest of the Yugoslav republics, Croatia's economy suffered badly during the 1991-95 war as output collapsed and the country missed the early waves of investment in Central and Eastern Europe that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since 2000, however, Croatia's economic fortunes have begun to improve slowly, with moderate but steady GDP growth between 4% and 6% led by a rebound in tourism and credit-driven consumer spending. Inflation over the same period has remained tame and the currency, the kuna, stable. Nevertheless, difficult problems still remain, including a stubbornly high unemployment rate, a growing trade deficit and uneven regional development. The state retains a large role in the economy, as privatization efforts often meet stiff public and political resistance. While macroeconomic stabilization has largely been achieved, structural reforms lag because of deep resistance on the part of the public and lack of strong support from politicians. The EU accession process should accelerate fiscal and structural reform. While long term growth prospects for the economy remain strong, Croatia will face significant pressure as a result of the global financial crisis. Croatia's high foreign debt, anemic export sector, strained state budget, and over-reliance on tourism revenue will result in higher risk to economic stability over the medium term.
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- Visit Croatia gives information on tourism and other helpful advice
- Economy - overview: The area of the Republic of Cyprus under government control has a market economy dominated by the service sector, which accounts for 78% of GDP. Tourism, financial services, and real estate are the most important sectors. Erratic growth rates over the past decade reflect the economy's reliance on tourism, which often fluctuates with political instability in the region and economic conditions in Western Europe. Nevertheless, the economy in the area under government control grew by an average of 3.6% per year during the period of 2000-06, well above the EU average. Cyprus joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM2) in May 2005 and adopted the euro as its national currency on 1 January 2008. An aggressive austerity program in the preceding years, aimed at paving the way for the euro, helped turn a soaring fiscal deficit (6.3% in 2003) into a surplus of 1.5% in 2007. In 2008, the Cypriot economy grew by 3.6%. This prosperity will come under pressure in 2009, as construction and tourism slow in the face of reduced foreign demand triggered by the ongoing global financial crisis. Growth is expected to slow to 2%, which would be its lowest level since 2003. As in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, water shortages are a perennial problem; a few desalination plants are now on line. After 10 years of drought, the country received substantial rainfall from 2001-04 alleviating immediate concerns. Since then, rainfall has been well below average, making water rationing a necessity.
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- CYPRIOT CULTURE CYPRIOT Culture, Cypriot and Cyprus related poetry and literature .
- Czech Republic
- Economy - overview:The Czech Republic is one of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. Growth in 2000-08 was supported by exports to the EU, primarily to Germany, and a strong recovery of foreign and domestic investment. Domestic demand is playing an ever more important role in underpinning growth as the availability of credit cards and mortgages increases. The current account deficit has declined to around 3% of GDP as demand for automotive and other products from the Czech Republic remains strong in the European Union. Rising inflation from higher food and energy prices are a risk to balanced economic growth. Significant increases in social spending in the run-up to June 2006 elections prevented the government from meeting its goal of reducing its budget deficit to 3% of GDP in 2007 and 2008. Negotiations on pension and additional healthcare reforms are continuing without clear prospects for agreement and implementation. Intensified restructuring among large enterprises, improvements in the financial sector, and effective use of available EU funds should strengthen output growth. The pro-business Civic Democratic Party-led government approved reforms in 2007 designed to cut spending on some social welfare benefits and reform the tax system with the aim of eventually reducing the budget deficit to 2.3% of GDP by 2010. Parliamentary approval for any additional reforms could prove difficult, however, because of the parliament's even split. The government withdrew a 2010 target date for euro adoption and instead aims to meet the eurozone criteria around 2012.
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- Czech Republic Today Internet news
- The Prague Post is the Czech Republic's full-service, English-language newspaper and is a comprehensive guide to living and working in Prague.
- In your pocket guide to The Czech Republic
- Prague hotels guide
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- Economy - overview: Estonia, a 2004 European Union entrant, has a modern market-based economy and one of the highest per capita income levels in Central Europe. Estonia's successive governments have pursued a free market, pro-business economic agenda and have wavered little in their commitment to promarket reforms. Tallinn's priority has been to sustain high growth rates - on average 8% over the last four years. The economy benefits from strong electronics and telecommunications sectors and strong trade ties with Finland, Sweden, and Germany. The current government has pursued relatively sound fiscal policies, resulting in balanced budgets and low public debt. Rapid growth, however, has made it difficult to keep inflation and large current-account deficits from soaring, putting downward pressure on the country's currency. The government has not given up on joining the euro, but has repeatedly postponed its euro adoption target. Estonia's economy slowed down markedly and even fell into recession in mid-2008, primarily as a result of an investment and consumption slump following the bursting of the real estate market bubble.
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- In your pocket guide to Estonia
- European Union
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- Economy - overview: Greece has a capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP at least 75% of the leading euro-zone economies. Tourism provides 15% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in agricultural and unskilled jobs. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 3.3% of annual GDP. The Greek economy grew by nearly 4.0% per year between 2003 and 2007, due partly to infrastructural spending related to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and in part to an increased availability of credit, which has sustained record levels of consumer spending. But growth dropped to 2.8% in 2008, as a result of the world financial crisis and tightening credit conditions. Greece violated the EU's Growth and Stability Pact budget deficit criteria of no more than 3% of GDP from 2001 to 2006, but finally met that criteria in 2007-08. Public debt, inflation, and unemployment are above the euro-zone average, but are falling. The Greek Government continues to grapple with cutting government spending, reducing the size of the public sector, and reforming the labor and pension systems, in the face of often vocal opposition from the country's powerful labor unions and the general public. The economy remains an important domestic political issue in Greece and, while the ruling New Democracy government has had some success in improving economic growth and reducing the budget deficit, Athens faces long-term challenges in its effort to continue its economic reforms, especially social security reform and privatization.
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- Culture: Free to Do The only comprehensive internet guide to thousands of free things to see and do throughout the UK, Europe and the USA
- Economy - overview: Hungary has made the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy, with a per capita income nearly two-thirds that of the EU-25 average. The private sector accounts for more than 80% of GDP. Foreign ownership of and investment in Hungarian firms are widespread, with cumulative foreign direct investment totaling more than $60 billion since 1989. The government's IMF-mandated austerity measures, imposed since late 2006, have reduced the budget deficit from over 9% of GDP in 2006 to 3.3% in 2008. Hungary's impending inability to service its short-term debt - brought on by the global credit crunch in late 2008 - led Budapest to seek and receive an IMF-arranged financial assistance package worth over $25 billion. The global financial crisis, declining exports, and low domestic consumption and fixed asset accumulation, dampened by government austerity measures, will result in a negative growth rate of about -1.5% to -2.5% in 2009.
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- The Hungarian Quarterly Int'l journal of Hungarian arts and culture. Find fiction, poetry, book reviews, interviews, and essays on archeology, music, theater, and film.
- Hungary Today Internet news
- In your pocket guide to Hungary
- Hotel Pension Helios 3 star mini Hotel 10 min drive from the heart of the Capital with a panoramic view of Budapest City. All rooms are equipped with shower/WC, TV, minibar, direct dial phone.
- Economy - overview: Iceland's Scandinavian-type social-market economy combines a capitalist structure and free-market principles with an extensive welfare system, including generous housing subsidies. With this system, Iceland has achieved high growth, low unemployment, and a remarkably even distribution of income. Government economic priorities have included stabilizing the krona, reducing the current account deficit, containing inflation, restructuring the financial sector, and diversifying the economy. The economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, which provides 70% of export earnings and employs 6% of the work force. The economy remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to fluctuations in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. Iceland's economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the last decade, with new developments in software production, biotechnology, and tourism. Abundant geothermal power has attracted substantial foreign investment in the aluminum and hydropower sectors and boosted economic growth, although the financial crisis has put several investment projects on hold. Much of Iceland's economic growth in recent years came as the result of a boom in domestic demand following the rapid expansion of the country's financial sector. Domestic banks expanded aggressively in foreign markets, and consumers and businesses borrowed heavily in foreign-currency loans, following the privatization of the sector in the early 2000s. Worsening global financial conditions throughout 2008 resulted in a sharp depreciation of the krona vis-a-vis other major currencies. The foreign exposure of Icelandic banks, whose loans and other assets totaled more than 10 times the country's GDP, became unsustainable. Iceland's three largest banks collapsed in late 2008. The country negotiated over $10 billion in loans from the IMF and other countries to stabilize its currency and financial sector, and to guarantee foreign deposits in Icelandic banks. A protracted recession is expected in 2009 and 2010 with GDP likely to contract and unemployment likely to rise substantially. The collapse of the financial system has led to a major shift in opinion in favor of joining the EU and adopting the euro. Previous opposition to this move stemmed from Icelanders' concern about losing control of their fishing resources. Iceland's coalition government collapsed in January 2009 following protests over growing joblessness and losses to personal savings.
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- Official tourist board site for Iceland
- Economy - overview: Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity dropped sharply in 2008 and Ireland entered into a recession for the first time in more than a decade with the onset of the world financial crisis and subsequent severe slowdown in the property and construction markets. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. Although the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, remains a key component of Ireland's economy, construction most recently fueled economic growth along with strong consumer spending and business investment. Property prices rose more rapidly in Ireland in the decade up to 2006 than in any other developed world economy. Per capita GDP also surged during Ireland's high-growth years, and in 2007 surpassed that of the United States. The Irish Government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb price and wage inflation, invest in infrastructure, increase labor force skills, and promote foreign investment. In 2008 the COWEN government moved to guarantee all bank deposits, recapitalize the banking system, and establish partly-public venture capital funds in response to the country's economic downturn. Ireland joined in circulating the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU nations.
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- Irish Emigrant Publications Electronic newsletters for the Irish abroad. News from Ireland, international round-up, information for professionals, review of Irish culture.
- Dublin Hotels offers a free guide to hotels in Dublin
- WRN On Demand: Ireland Radio Dublin news on demand in English and traditional Irish.
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- Economy - overview: Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07; but entered a recession as a result of unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the softening world economy. The IMF, EU, and other donors provided assistance to Latvia as part of a package to defend the currency's peg to the euro and reduce public spending by about 5% of GDP. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February 1999. EU membership, a top foreign policy goal, came in May 2004. The current account deficit and inflation remain major concerns.
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- In your pocket guide to Latvia
- Economy - overview: Despite its small size and limited natural resources, Liechtenstein has developed into a prosperous, highly industrialized, free-enterprise economy with a vital financial service sector and the highest per capita income in the world. The Liechtenstein economy is widely diversified with a large number of small businesses. Low business taxes - the maximum tax rate is 20% - and easy incorporation rules have induced many holding companies to establish nominal offices in Liechtenstein, providing 30% of state revenues. The country participates in a customs union with Switzerland and uses the Swiss franc as its national currency. It imports more than 90% of its energy requirements. Liechtenstein has been a member of the European Economic Area (an organization serving as a bridge between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the EU) since May 1995. The government is working to harmonize its economic policies with those of an integrated Europe. In 2008 Liechtenstein came under renewed international pressure - particularly from Germany - to improve transparency in its banking and tax systems.
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- Economy—overview: Lithuania has grown on average 8% per year over the last four years, driven by exports and domestic consumer demand. Unemployment stood at 4.8% in 2008, while wages continued to grow at double digit rates. The current account deficit rose to roughly 15% of GDP in 2007-08. Lithuania has gained membership in the World Trade Organization and joined the EU in May 2004. Despite Lithuania's EU accession, Lithuania's trade with its Central and Eastern European neighbors, and Russia in particular, accounts for a growing percentage of total trade. Privatization of the large, state-owned utilities is nearly complete. Foreign government and business support have helped in the transition from the old command economy to a market economy.
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- In your pocket guide to Lithuania
- Economy—overview: This stable, high-income economy - benefiting from its proximity to France, Belgium, and Germany - has historically featured solid growth, low inflation, and low unemployment. The industrial sector, initially dominated by steel, has become increasingly diversified to include chemicals, rubber, and other products. Growth in the financial sector, which now accounts for about 28% of GDP, has more than compensated for the decline in steel. Most banks are foreign owned and have extensive foreign dealings. Agriculture is based on small family-owned farms. The economy depends on foreign and cross-border workers for about 60% of its labor force. Although Luxembourg, like all EU members, suffered from the global economic slump in the early part of this decade, the country continues to enjoy an extraordinarily high standard of living - GDP per capita ranks third in the world, after Liechtenstein and Qatar. After two years of strong economic growth in 2006-07, turmoil in the world financial markets slowed Luxembourg's economy in 2008, but growth remained above the European average and is likely to remain so in 2009.
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- Economy—overview: Macedonia's small, open economy make it vulnerable to economic developments in Europe and dependent on regional integration and progress toward EU membership for continued economic growth. At independence in September 1991, Macedonia was the least developed of the Yugoslav republics, producing a mere 5% of the total federal output of goods and services. The collapse of Yugoslavia ended transfer payments from the central government and eliminated advantages from inclusion in a de facto free trade area. An absence of infrastructure, UN sanctions on the downsized Yugoslavia, and a Greek economic embargo over a dispute about the country's constitutional name and flag hindered economic growth until 1996. GDP subsequently rose each year through 2000. In 2001, during a civil conflict, the economy shrank 4.5% because of decreased trade, intermittent border closures, increased deficit spending on security needs, and investor uncertainty. Growth averaged 4% per year during 2003-06 and 5% per year during 2007-08. Macedonia has maintained macroeconomic stability with low inflation, but it has so far lagged the region in attracting foreign investment and creating jobs, despite making extensive fiscal and business sector reforms. Official unemployment remains high at nearly 35%, but may be overstated based on the existence of an extensive gray market, estimated to be more than 20 percent of GDP, that is not captured by official statistics.
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- Economy—overview: Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. Malta's geographic position beween the EU and Africa makes it a recipient of illegal immigration, which has strained Malta's political and economic resources. The financial services industry has grown in recent years, but is not fully modernized. Malta's economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing - especially electronics and pharmaceuticals - and tourism all of which have been negatively affected by global economic downturn. Malta adopted the euro on 1 January 2008. The Maltese government in 2009 will be challenged to contain public spending, which ballooned in 2008 to about 4.1% of GDP placing it above the euro zone's 3% general deficit maximum.
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- Economy—overview: Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe despite recent progress from its small economic base. It enjoys a favorable climate and good farmland but has no major mineral deposits. As a result, the economy depends heavily on agriculture, featuring fruits, vegetables, wine, and tobacco. Moldova must import almost all of its energy supplies. Moldova's dependence on Russian energy was underscored at the end of 2005, when a Russian-owned electrical station in Moldova's separatist Transnistria region cut off power to Moldova and Russia's Gazprom cut off natural gas in disputes over pricing, and again in January 2009, during a similar dispute. Russia's decision to ban Moldovan wine and agricultural products, coupled with its decision to double the price Moldova paid for Russian natural gas, slowed GDP growth in 2006. However, in 2007-08 growth returned to the 6% level Moldova had achieved in 2000-05, boosted by Russia's partial removal of the bans, solid fixed capital investment, and strong domestic demand driven by remittances from abroad. Economic reforms have been slow because of corruption and strong political forces backing government controls. Nevertheless, the government's primary goal of EU integration has resulted in some market-oriented progress. The granting of EU trade preferences and increased exports to Russia will encourage higher growth rates, but the agreements are unlikely to serve as a panacea, given the extent to which export success depends on higher quality standards and other factors. The economy remains vulnerable to higher fuel prices, poor agricultural weather, and the skepticism of foreign investors. Also, the presence of an illegal separatist regime in Moldova's Transnistria region continues to be a drag on the Moldovan economy. The deteriorating global economic crisis did not seriously effect the Moldovan economy in 2008 due to its low exposure to the international financial system, but a global economic slowdown, particularly in the EU and Russia, could hurt the economy in 2009 as Moldova relies heavily on remittances from Moldovans abroad.
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- In Your Pocket Guide to Moldova
- Economy—overview: Monaco, situated on the French Mediterranean coast, is a popular resort, attracting tourists to its casino and pleasant climate. In 2001, a major new construction project will extend the pier used by cruise ships in the main harbor. The Principality has successfully sought to diversify into services and small, high-value-added, nonpolluting industries. The state has no income tax and low business taxes and thrives as a tax haven both for individuals who have established residence and for foreign companies that have set up businesses and offices. The state retains monopolies in a number of sectors, including tobacco, the telephone network, and the postal service. Living standards are high, roughly comparable to those in prosperous French metropolitan areas. Monaco does not publish national income figures; the estimates below are extremely rough.
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- Economy—overview:Montenegro severed its economy from federal control and from Serbia during the MILOSEVIC era and maintained its own central bank, adopted the Deutchmark, then the euro - rather than the Yugoslav dinar - as official currency, collected customs tariffs, and managed its own budget. The dissolution of the loose political union between Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 led to separate membership in several international financial institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. On 18 January 2007, Montenegro joined the World Bank and IMF. Montenegro is pursuing its own membership in the World Trade Organization and signed a Stabilization and Association agreement with the European Union in October 2007. On December 15, 2007, Montenegro submitted an EU membership application. Unemployment and regional disparities in development are key political and economic problems. Montenegro has privatized its large aluminum complex - the dominant industry - as well as most of its financial sector, and has begun to attract foreign direct investment in the tourism sector. The global financial crisis is likely to have a significant negative impact on the economy.
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- Economy—overview: Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and today stands out as a success story among transition economies. In 2008, GDP grew an estimated 5.3%, based on rising private consumption, a jump in corporate investment, and EU funds inflows. GDP per capita is still much below the EU average, but is similar to that of the three Baltic states. Since 2004, EU membership and access to EU structural funds have provided a major boost to the economy. Unemployment is falling rapidly, though at roughly 9.7% in 2008, it remains well above the EU average. In 2008 inflation reached 4.3%, more than the upper limit of the National Bank of Poland's target range, but has been falling due to global economic slowdown. Poland's economic performance could improve further if the country addresses some of the remaining deficiencies in its business environment. An inefficient commercial court system, a rigid labor code, bureaucratic red tape, and persistent low-level corruption keep the private sector from performing up to its full potential. Rising demands to fund health care, education, and the state pension system present a challenge to the Polish Government's effort to hold the consolidated public sector budget deficit under 3.0% of GDP, a target which was achieved in 2007-08. The PO/PSL coalition government which came to power in November 2007 plans to further reduce the budget deficit with the aim of eventually adopting the euro by 2012. The new government has also announced its intention to enact business-friendly reforms, reduce public sector spending growth, lower taxes, and accelerate privatization. The government, however, has moved slowly on major reforms. Pension and health-care bills passed through the legislature, but the legislature failed to overturn a presidential veto.
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- Inside Poland today Internet news
- In your pocket guide to Poland
- Economy - overview: Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community in 1986. Over the past two decades, successive governments have privatized many state-controlled firms and liberalized key areas of the economy, including the financial and telecommunications sectors. The country qualified for the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1998 and began circulating the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU member economies. Economic growth had been above the EU average for much of the 1990s, but fell back in 2001-08. GDP per capita stands at roughly two-thirds of the EU-27 average. A poor educational system, in particular, has been an obstacle to greater productivity and growth. Portugal has been increasingly overshadowed by lower-cost producers in Central Europe and Asia as a target for foreign direct investment. The budget deficit surged to an all-time high of 6% of GDP in 2005, but the government reduced the deficit to 2.6% in 2007 - a year ahead of Portugal's targeted schedule. Nonetheless, the government faces tough choices in its attempts to boost the economy, which grew by 0.9% in 2008, while keeping the budget deficit within the eurozone's 3%-of-GDP ceiling.
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- Free To Do The only comprehensive internet guide to thousands of free things to see and do throughout the UK, Europe and the USA
- Economy—overview:Romania, which joined the European Union on 1 January 2007, began the transition from Communism in 1989 with a largely obsolete industrial base and a pattern of output unsuited to the country's needs. The country emerged in 2000 from a punishing three-year recession thanks to strong demand in EU export markets. Domestic consumption and investment have fueled strong GDP growth in recent years, but have led to large current account imbalances. Romania's macroeconomic gains have only recently started to spur creation of a middle class and address Romania's widespread poverty. Corruption and red tape continue to handicap its business environment. Inflation rose in 2007-08, driven in part by strong consumer demand and high wage growth, rising energy costs, a nation-wide drought affecting food prices, and a relaxation of fiscal discipline. Romania's strong GDP growth moderated markedly in the last quarter of 2008 as the country began to feel the effects of a global downturn in financial markets and trade, and growth is expected to be much weaker in 2009. Romania hopes to adopt the euro by 2014.
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- Romania Today Internet News
- In your pocket guide to Romania
- The Russian Federation
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- San Marino
- Economy - overview:San Marino's economy relies heavily on its tourism and banking industries, as well as from the manufacture and export of ceramics, clothing, fabrics, furniture, paints, spirits, tiles, and wine. The economy also benefits from foreign investment due to its relatively low corporate taxes and low taxes on interest earnings. The San Marino government, sworn in on 3 December 2008, will continue to work towards an economic cooperation agreement with Italy - a longstanding priority - as well as harmonizing its fiscal laws with EU members. The per capita level of output and standard of living are comparable to those of the most prosperous regions of Italy, which supplies much of its food.
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- Economy—overview:MILOSEVIC-era mismanagement of the economy, an extended period of international economic sanctions, and the damage to Yugoslavia's infrastructure and industry during the NATO airstrikes in 1999 left the economy only half the size it was in 1990. After the ousting of former Federal Yugoslav President MILOSEVIC in September 2000, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition government implemented stabilization measures and embarked on a market reform program. After renewing its membership in the IMF in December 2000, Yugoslavia continued to reintegrate into the international community by rejoining the World Bank (IBRD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). A World Bank-European Commission sponsored Donors' Conference held in June 2001 raised $1.3 billion for economic restructuring. In November 2001, the Paris Club agreed to reschedule the country's $4.5 billion public debt and wrote off 66% of the debt. In July 2004, the London Club of private creditors forgave $1.7 billion of debt just over half the total owed. Belgrade has made progress in trade liberalization and enterprise restructuring and privatization, including telecommunications and small and medium size firms. It has made halting progress towards EU membership despite signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Brussels in May 2008. Serbia is also pursuing membership in the World Trade Organization. Unemployment and the large current account deficit remain ongoing political and economic problems.
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- Economy—overview: Slovakia has made significant economic reforms since its separation from the Czech Republic in 1993. Reforms to the taxation, healthcare, pension, and social welfare systems helped Slovakia to consolidate its budget and get on track to join the EU in 2004 and to adopt the euro in January 2009. Major privatizations are nearly complete, the banking sector is almost entirely in foreign hands, and the government has helped facilitate a foreign investment boom with business friendly policies such as labor market liberalization and a 19% flat tax. Foreign investment in the automotive sector has been strong. Slovakia's economic growth exceeded expectations in 2001-08 despite the general European slowdown. Unemployment, at an unacceptable 18% in 2003-04, dropped to 7.4% in 2008 but remains the economy's Achilles heel. Despite its 2006 pre-election promises to loosen fiscal policy and reverse the previous DZURINDA government's pro-market reforms, FICO's cabinet has thus far been careful to keep a lid on spending in order to meet euro adoption criteria and has focused on regulating energy and food prices instead.
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- Slovakia Today Internet news
- In Your Pocket Guide to Bratislava
- Economy—overview: Slovenia, which on 1 January 2007 became the first 2004 European Union entrant to adopt the euro, is a model of economic success and stability for the region. With the highest per capita GDP in Central Europe, Slovenia has excellent infrastructure, a well-educated work force, and a strategic location between the Balkans and Western Europe. Privatization has lagged since 2002, and the economy has one of highest levels of state control in the EU. Structural reforms to improve the business environment have allowed for somewhat greater foreign participation in Slovenia's economy and have helped to lower unemployment. In March 2004, Slovenia became the first transition country to graduate from borrower status to donor partner at the World Bank. In December 2007, Slovenia was invited to begin the accession process for joining the OECD. Despite its economic success, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Slovenia has lagged behind the region average, and taxes remain relatively high. Furthermore, the labor market is often seen as inflexible, and legacy industries are losing sales to more competitive firms in China, India, and elsewhere.
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- Slovenia Today Internet News
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- Economy—overview: Turkey's dynamic economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that still accounts for more than 35% of employment. It has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. The largest industrial sector is textiles and clothing, which accounts for one-third of industrial employment; it faces stiff competition in international markets with the end of the global quota system. However, other sectors, notably the automotive and electronics industries, are rising in importance within Turkey's export mix. Real GNP growth has exceeded 6% in many years, but this strong expansion has been interrupted by sharp declines in output in 1994, 1999, and 2001. The economy turned around with the implementation of economic reforms, and 2004 GDP growth reached 9%, followed by roughly 5% annual growth from 2005-07. Due to global contractions, annual growth is estimated to have fallen to 3.5% in 2008. Inflation fell to 7.7% in 2005 - a 30-year low - but climbed back to 8.5% in 2007. Despite the strong economic gains from 2002-07, which were largely due to renewed investor interest in emerging markets, IMF backing, and tighter fiscal policy, the economy is still burdened by a high current account deficit and high external debt. Further economic and judicial reforms and prospective EU membership are expected to boost foreign direct investment. The stock value of FDI currently stands at about $85 billion. Privatization sales are currently approaching $21 billion. Oil began to flow through the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline in May 2006, marking a major milestone that will bring up to 1 million barrels per day from the Caspian to market. In 2007 and 2008, Turkish financial markets weathered significant domestic political turmoil, including turbulence sparked by controversy over the selection of former Foreign Minister Abdullah GUL as Turkey's 11th president and the possible closure of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Economic fundamentals are sound, marked by moderate economic growth and foreign direct investment. Nevertheless, the Turkish economy may be faced with more negative economic indicators in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown. In addition, Turkey's high current account deficit leaves the economy vulnerable to destabilizing shifts in investor confidence.
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- Economy—overview:After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was far and away the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied the unique equipment (for example, large diameter pipes) and raw materials to industrial and mining sites (vertical drilling apparatus) in other regions of the former USSR. Shortly after independence was ratified in December 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices and erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Ukraine's dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. Ukraine depends on imports to meet about three-fourths of its annual oil and natural gas requirements. A dispute with Russia over pricing in late 2005 and early 2006 led to a temporary gas cut-off; Ukraine concluded a deal with Russia in January 2006 that almost doubled the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas. Outside institutions - particularly the IMF - have encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms. Ukrainian Government officials eliminated most tax and customs privileges in a March 2005 budget law, bringing more economic activity out of Ukraine's large shadow economy, but more improvements are needed, including fighting corruption, developing capital markets, and improving the legislative framework. Ukraine's economy was buoyant despite political turmoil between the prime minister and president until mid-2008. Real GDP growth reached roughly 7% in 2006-07, fueled by high global prices for steel - Ukraine's top export - and by strong domestic consumption, spurred by rising pensions and wages. The drop in steel prices and Ukraine's exposure to the global financial crisis due to aggressive foreign borrowing has lowered growth in 2008 and the economy probably will contract in 2009. Ukraine reached an agreement with the IMF for a $16.5 billion standby arrangement in November 2008 to deal with the economic crisis. However, political turmoil in Ukraine as well as deteriorating external conditions are likely to hamper efforts for economic recovery.
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- United Kingdom
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- Vatican City