Tuesday, November 12
Policy makers, international institutions, think tanks, and representatives of the private sector from the Western Balkans came together at the JVI on November 12 for a one-day conference to launch an important new IMF paper, Lifting Growth in the Western Balkans: The Role of Global Value Chains and Services Exports.
This paper highlights the importance of exports in driving growth, and suggests a number of steps these countries could take to enhance exports by strengthening links with European value chains. These steps include improving infrastructure, strengthening labor skills and education, regulatory reforms, and deepening trade agreements by adding legally enforceable provisions. As all Western Balkan countries seek to join the European Union, frontloading adoption of legislation consistent with the acquis communautaire will facilitate deeper intra-European value chains, including as regards intellectual property, the judiciary, and competition policy.
Contributions by representatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Bank reinforced these points. The private sector emphasized the need for pro-trade legislation to be implemented in practice and not only on paper. Colleagues from the Slovak Republic and Poland, two existing EU members, recalled the importance of the European Union as an anchor for reforms at the time these countries sought to join the EU, a point seconded by the European Commission representative. They argued that in many cases EU consistent legislation was adopted even when accession itself was a distance away, thus offering businesses a certain environment to operate in.
The paper and many interventions stimulated a lively discussion. We at the JVI were pleased to host this event, and look forward to similar peer-to-peer exchanges on issues of importance to the Western Balkans in the period ahead.
Thomas Richardson, Director, JVI