IMF chief upbeat on growth prospects in central and eastern Europe


The economies of countries in central and eastern Europe will grow at a faster rate than those in western Europe in the next few years, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday.

She told a summit of the Three Seas Initiative, which brings together 12 European Union member states that are mainly in central and eastern Europe and the Baltics, that the countries’ combined GDP should this year return to the level seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We expect that the year 2021 would be when the region will reach its 2019 level of GDP, ahead of many others in the world,” she said in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.

The Three Seas Initiative takes its name from the three seas that border the region — the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas. It groups Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Its annual summit is aimed at boosting economic, energy, transport and digital ties.

Georgieva said the economies of the countries in the group shrank last year by around 4% on average – about half the amount in western Europe – during the pandemic.

She said she expected about 1.2% higher annual economic growth in the countries in the Three Seas Initiative than in their western neighbours between now and 2025.