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General business environment

GDP growth%2017f2016e201520142013
EU-281) 2) 1.4–1.61.7–1.82.21.50.2
Austria2) 3) 1.3–1.51.5–1.71.00.40.3
Bulgaria1) 2) 4) 2.7–3.02.2–3.13.01.51.3
Croatia1) 2) 4) 6) 2.0–2.51.9–2.61.6–0.4–1.1
Macedonia5) 6) 3.5–4.02.2–3.73.73.52.9

The global economy has shown only tentative recovery since mid-2015. Development has been slowed by uncertainty, among others due to the British decision to leave the European Union, protectionist tendencies and geopolitical risks. However, there are definite signs of stabilisation in the economies of the emerging countries despite the ongoing structural problems. These countries are benefiting from the increase in raw material prices and the consolidation of the Chinese economy. Forecasts for the US economy, in contrast, were recently revised downward and the expected GDP growth will now lag behind the European Union. Forecasts for the EU point to economic growth of 1.7% to 1.8% in 2016 and 1.4% to 1.6% in 2017.

In Austria, economic growth in 2016 has been moderate to date – and, according to recently published preliminary indicators, will most likely continue at this pace. This hesitant recovery is still supported by domestic demand, even though the development of private consumption appears to be somewhat weaker than hoped for at the beginning of the year. Other sectors of the economy present a different picture: economic researchers expect positive impulses from the construction industry, which seems to have overcome its crisis, and from gross capital investment, which is projected to record the strongest growth since 2011 this year. These factors are expected to place Austria near the EU average: growth is projected to range from of 1.5% to 1.7% in 2016. The forecast for 2017 is slightly lower at 1.3% to 1.5%, but corresponds to the slightly reduced forecast for the entire European Union.

Economic momentum in Bulgaria has recently slowed somewhat compared with 2015, above all due to the decline in investments. The expansion of the infrastructure and the energy sector over the coming years should, however, provide added impulses for further growth. Exports and private consumption currently represent the major drivers for the Bulgarian economy. In this environment, growth is expected to range from 2.2% to 3.1% in 2016 and from 2.7% to 3.0% in 2017.

The economic recovery in Croatia is continuing, primarily as the result of sound domestic demand. Private consumption is still supported by continuing price declines, the stabilisation of the labour market and solid tourism indicators. Tourism can be described as the country’s most important economic driver. Another positive factor was the increase in gross capital investment, which was based, above all, on a stronger construction industry. GDP growth is projected to range from 1.9% to 2.6% in 2016 and from 2.0% to 2.5% in 2017.

After generating growth of over 3.0% in recent years, the pro- longed domestic political crisis in Macedonia is currently preventing more dynamic development. The economy could, however, continue its growth course at a high level if the political conflict is resolved in the near future. General consumer trends have not yet been negatively affected by the unstable political environment, and the export sector has also remained generally untouched by potential negative effects to date. The effects of the political uncertainty are, on the other hand, very visible in the increasing reservation surrounding foreign investment. Under the current conditions, the GDP in Macedonia is projected to increase by 2.2% to 3.7% in 2016 and by 3.5% to 4.0% in 2017.

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