EBRD maintains Macedonia’s 2015 GDP growth forecast at 3.5%, but deepening of political crisis poses downside risks

By bne IntelliNews May 14, 2015

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has kept its 2015 GDP growth forecast for Macedonia at 3.5%, unchanged from January, according to its four-monthly regional outlook. The bank expects the southeast European country's GDP growth to accelerate to 3.7% in 2016.

We should note, though, that although published on May 14, the latest forecasts were made as of April 30, before the political crisis in the country deepened amid large anti-government protests, deadly battles between government forces and suspected terrorists, and minister resignations. According to the EBRD, downside risks to growth come mainly from political instability.

In 2014, Macedonia outperformed its regional peers, posting a GDP growth of 3.8%. The EBRD's projections for 2015 and 2016 assume stable macroeconomic conditions and remaining strong production from several high-profile foreign investments.

Macedonia’s finance ministry and central bank have forecast 2015 real GDP growth of 4% and 4.1%, respectively. The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund both have projected it at 3.8%.

Anti-government protests began in Macedonia on May 5. On May 9-10 at least 22 people, including eight police officers, were killed in armed clashes in the town of Kumanovo, close to Macedonia’s borders with Serbia and Kosovo. This was the worst outbreak of violence in the country since the inter-ethnic conflict between Macedonians and Albanians ended in 2001. The police launched the operation in Kumanovo after receiving intelligence that a terrorist group was planning a series of attacks on civilian and government targets in the country.

On May 12, three top Macedonian ministers and officials resigned, signalling a deepening political crisis. Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska and Transport Minister Mile Janakieski were key members of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s administration, having held their posts since 2006. The other resignation was that of Saso Mijalkov, director of the administration for security and counterintelligence, who is Gruevski’s cousin.

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