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The economic development of the Western Balkans: The importance of non-EU actors


The unfavorable economic situation in the Western Balkans after the strong effects of the global economic crisis and the slow process of EU enlargement have led most Western Balkans to develop political and economic relations with a number of non-EU countries. Despite strong economic integration of the Western Balkans with primarily the EU economy, other countries have emerged as important trading partners, investors and providers of financial assistance – including China, Turkey and Russia. This chapter seeks to evaluate the role and the relative importance of these non-EU countries for the Western Balkan economies. The analysis focuses on the role of non-EU countries in the Western Balkan region in the two most important areas of economic cooperation, namely foreign trade and Foreign Direct Investment. The main conclusion is that, notwithstanding the diversification of trade and investment relations that the Western Balkan countries have indeed experienced over the last 10 years, they remain primarily linked to the European Union, politically and economically.