The Western Balkans in Global Markets: New Opportunities for Trade and Investment
4 July 2019 - Poznań, Poland
The Berlin Process, initiated by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2014, aims to preserve the momentum for EU integration of the WB6. It intends to foster dialogue and co-operation between the WB6 and participating EU member states (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom). It also seeks to foster regional co-operation in the Western Balkans. The OECD is an active contributor to the Berlin Process, notably through the engagement of its South East Europe regional programme.
The Berlin Process summits are held on an annual basis. Participants include the Heads of States and Governments of the WB6 as well as of the participating EU member states and high-level representatives of the European Commission.
As part of the Poznań Summit 2019, the Government of Poland invited the OECD to co-organise this joint High-level Conference, which explored promising avenues for economic development in the Western Balkans through deeper trade and investment links with EU countries. The release of a new OECD publication on the trade potential of the region helped to jump-start the discussion, while two Ministerial Panels aimed to pinpoint where governments can act.
- The Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Jacek Czaputowicz, and the OECD Secretary General, Mr Angel Gurría, opened the Conference. Mr Czaputowicz underlined the growing involvement and relevance of the OECD in the Berlin Process and expressed its desire to further strengthen the partnership between Poland and the OECD under this framework. Mr Gurría commended the impressive accomplishments of the Western Balkans over the past twenty years, whilst also highlighting the pending key challenges, such as low productivity levels and brain drain. He underscored the crucial role of export-led foreign direct investments in driving inclusive and sustainable growth in the Western Balkans.
- The opening remarks were followed by the presentation of the key findings from our new publication. It was emphasized that this publication would act as a strategic tool for identifying key sectors in the Western Balkan economies in order to enhance value addition of manufacturing activities and export sophistication.
- Afterwards, the Ministers of the Western Balkans and EU countries part of the Berlin process shared their good practices and lessons learnt in driving trade and investment over two panels. They were instrumental in demonstrating the progress made by the Western Balkans, whilst fostering the dialogue between themselves as well as with the EU/OECD countries.
- Mr Gurría concluded the conference by summarising key policy actions that the Western Balkans would need to take in order to secure sustained economic growth. He also encouraged the Western Balkan economies to take the most advantage of OECD expertise in designing and implementing impactful policies.
The conference introducted the new OECD publication, Global South East Europe: Unleashing the Transformation Potential for Growth in the Western Balkans. The composition of a country’s exports can be a powerful predictor of economic development: the more the export basket of a developing economy resembles that of developed ones, the higher its chances of rapid economic development. The OECD analysed the exports of the six Western Balkan economies in order to identify promising sectors and products that have potential to contribute towards higher economic sophistication and faster development.
Highlights of the publication can be accessed in this OECD video and this printable leaflet.
Co-funded by the Republic of Poland
• Poznań 2019 - Western Balkans Summit
The Poland/OECD High-Level Conference included the participation of Mr. Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, and Prof. Jacek Czaputowicz, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other WB6 Ministers.
• Draft agenda
• Global South East Europe: Unleashing the Transformation Potential for Growth in the Western Balkans
About the Berlin Process:
• Documents from previous Summits
• WB6 Digital Summit (April 2019)
Follow the OECD South East Europe programme Twitter feed