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TIRANA (Albania), October 12 (SeeNews) – The economic upswing continued in the Western Balkans, with annual gross domestic product growth accelerating to 4.3% in the second quarter of 2018, from an average growth rate of 3.6% in the preceding quarter, the European Commission said on Friday.
“Private consumption and investment continued to support growth and exports seem to have regained momentum. Annualised current account deficits narrowed further in most countries, but overall external positions in many cases remain vulnerable,” the Commission said in its EU Candidate Countries' & Potential Candidates' Economic Quarterly report for the third quarter.
Economic expansion led to further job creation but at a slowing pace and unemployment rates still remain high across the Western Balkans, although they continued to fall in most countries, the Commission added.
The EU's executive body noted noted that Macedonia recorded the strongest acceleration of annual GDP growth, to 3.1% in the second quarter from sluggish 0.1% in the first quarter on the back of stronger exports.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the economy expanded by 3.4% with exports and private consumption driving growth.
“In Montenegro and Kosovo output growth strengthened to 4.9% y/y and 4.7% y/y, respectively. In both cases, economic expansion was broad-based with all domestic demand components (especially investment) contributing positively to growth,” it added.
In Serbia and Albania, economic growth slowed marginally in the second quarter to a still robust 4.8% and 4.3%, respectively, according to the report.
The average job growth rate in the Western Balkans fell to 0.6% from 1.5% in the first quarter. Growing employment levels contributed to lower unemployment rates in most countries in the region.
“Nevertheless, the labour market situation in the region remains challenging with unemployment rates ranging from 11.9% in Serbia to 29.4% in Kosovo,” the European Commission said.