Issue No. 92 - March 2012 Current Information about Central and Eastern Europe ostnewsMore worries than glimmers ofhope for Hungary page 2Moldova: 93 kilometers of Cabotage freedom for Bulgaria Introduction of euro -road improvements and Romania as of 01.01.12 a nail-biting eventpage 3 page 3 page 4Romania seeking a iSIS-Mobile: Track & Trace Gebrüder Weiss extendscalm spell via Smartphone Premium Servicespage 5 page 6 page 7
page 2 Hungary Hungary: 4-day vignetteabolished More worries than glim- On 1st January 2012,fees were increased in mers of hope for HungaryHungary in all categories. Hungary is battling with its budget deficit and a weakening economy. In additi-This was on account of on, the government is at loggerheads with the EU and the IMF.the preceding high rate ofinflation and turbulence inthe economy. In addition, Alongside negative news reports, such asthe cheap 4-day vignette the infringement proceedings instituted by the(2011: 1,650 HUF) has EU Commission in the middle of Januarybeen scrapped. From now regarding the independence of the centralon, travellers to Hungary bank, the data protection authority and themust purchase the 10-day judiciary, there are also glimmers of hope. Photo: APA / EPAvignette (valid for 10consecutive days) at a The national-conservative government of Vik-cost of 2,975 HUF (approx. tor Orban nevertheless faces difficult times ahead.9.50 euros). This is valid The last piece of bad news was the suspensionfor vehicles weighing no on 22nd February of 500 million euros of support The mood among companies operating in Hungary is not that bad.more than 3.5 tonnes. The from the EU Cohesion Fund in the wake of tighte-Hungarian e-vignette, ned rules on budget monitoring. But if the truewhich in contrast to tradi- economic data is allowed to speak for itself, there analyst is at pains to stress in this context thattional vignettes is not is nevertheless some positive news. According to Hungary belongs to one of the few economies instuck in the windscreen, analysts, the GDP figures are better than expec- the EU that has experienced growth on a quarter-can be purchased from ted. There was an unexpected increase of around ly basis. This is confirmed by the current figuresyour local automobile 1.4 percent compared to the previous year. This is from Eurostat. Thus Austria’s GDP fell by 0.1 per-club and from sales points a surprise that would also be needed this year, as cent in the 4th quarter, Germany’s fell by 0.2 per-at the border. the economic indicator published by Thomson cent, but on the other hand Hungarian GDP rose Reuters and the Österreichische Kontrollbank in the 4th quarter of 2011 by 0.3 percent. (OeKB) was just as negative as the current interim forecast of the EU Commission for 2012, which Hungary under economic surveillance assumes a fall in GDP of -0.1. But this positive review followed a negative predication for development this year, after theImprint There has been no recovery in Hungary since 2008 indicators for the economic situation in Hungary The situation in Hungary is moreover not only published by Thomson Reuters and OeKB plum- of concern to the Austrian banks active in the meted 40 percentage points to a balance (positi-Proprietor of media, owner andpublisher: Gebrüder Weiss CEE region. In the first ten months of 2011, Hun- ve less negative positions) of minus 74. ThisGmbH, Wiener Straße 26, gary was Austria’s seventh most important export means that, according to estimates by investors,A-2326 Maria-Lanzendorf,Österreich market, with an export volume of 3.14 billion the country is back where it was in January 2009,Editors: Klaus Tumler, Bianca euros (+14.68 percent). Among the other CEE just a few months after the collapse of Lehman. ItBaumgartner, F 01.79799.7925,email@example.com countries, only the Czech Republic is a more is therefore no surprise that Hungary is includedTranslation: Sternkopf Communica- important export market for Austria. The truth is in the 12 countries placed by the EU Commissiontions, Fabrikweg 4, 09557 Flöha, that the Hungarian economy has never recovered under economic observation on 14th February,DeutschlandPrinted by: Hans Jentzsch & Co since the global crisis of 2008. However, the following a study into economic imbalancesGmbH, Scheydgasse 31, 1210 Wien mood among Austrian companies operating in within the EU.Circulation: 5.000 copiesOstnews is published: four times a Hungary is not as negative as all the ‘media hype’year about the strained financial situation would have 2012: investors expect an economic slumpPictures (unless stated otherwise): us believe, commented Erika Teoman-Brenner, Deteriorating business prospects are attribut-Gebrüder Weiss Ges.m.b.H. ; Sub-ject to error and printing error. Austrian economic attaché in Budapest, at the ed above all to controversial measures taken byCover picture: istockphoto beginning of the year. the Hungarian government such as the introduc-DECLARATION ACCORDING TO § 25MEDIA : Proprietor of media and tion of special taxes on banks, commerce, tele-publisher: Gebrüder Weiss GmbH The performance of the German economy has helped communications and the energy industry. TheWiener Straße 26, A-2326 Maria- If, however, one looks for the reason for this economic expectations of investors for HungaryLanzendorf, P 01.79799.0Business object: enhanced performance in GDP, this also is to be plummeted 27 percentage points to minus 31,international forwarding agent found outside the borders of Hungary. Analyst which puts it far behind the other CEE countries.Basic line of text:Information of companies about Gergely Suppan (Takarek Bank) has suggested as The current economic situation in Hungary iseconomic relations with Central a possible engine of growth the apparent recove- considered to be the worst in the whole region:and Eastern Europe. ry of the German economy and the start of pro- the indicator fell by 24 percentage points to a duction at the Mercedes plant in Hungary. The balance of minus 17.
CEE page 3 Gratis-Abo Free subscription Moldova: 93 kilometres Aktuelle Ostnews Current Ostnews of road improvements Sie wollenyou like to recei- Would übersichtlich, Although the winner of the tender has yet to be announced, work is to begin regelmäßig und gratis über ve clear, regular and free no later than June 2012. Neuigkeiten aus Mittel- und information on the latest Osteuropa informiert wer-and news from Central den? Dann melden Sie Simply Eastern Europe? sich From December to February contractors were ganz einfach unter subscrip- register for a free invited to tender for the project funded by the www.gw-world.com/ at tion to our East News U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation. ostnewswww.gw-world.com/ fürostnews ein Gratis-Abo unserer Since then, the selection process has been Ostnews an. Sie erhalten underway for the rehabilitation of four stretches damit viermal proyou hot-off- This gives Jahr druck- of the M2 national highway between Sarateni frisch Informationen aus den thepress information rela- and Soroca, with a total length of 93 kilometres. Bereichen Transport, Verkehr, ting to transport, traffic, Photo: iStockphoto As we went to press, the winner of the tender Logistik und Wirtschaft. four logistics and business was not yet known, but the result will be announ- times per year. ced soon on www.mca.gov.md/md/mcatender. Oder interessieren Sie sich According to the Austrian Federal Economic All work is to be completed within two years. für unseren elektronischen in Or are you interested Chamber (WKÖ), contracts are to be signed Newsletter (in deutscher oder our electronic newsletter with the clients by April 2012, so that work can englischer Sprache)? Dann (in German or English)? begin in May or June. Winners of the tender are registrieren Sie sich ebenfalls Then you can likewise regi- to build 302,000m2 of new roads and rehabili- auf dieserat this internet ster Seite. tate 533,780m2 - including bridges with a total Millennium Challange Account Moldova (MCA- address. area of 5,290m2. All work is to be carried out Moldova) and endowed it with 262 million dol- within a two year period. Through the Millenni- lars. This is to be used to support the govern- um Challange Corporation (MCC), the USA and ment in its efforts to reduce existing poverty the Republic of Moldova have established the through promoting economic growth. Cabotage freedom for Bulga- WKÖ online guide to ria and Romania as of 01.01.12‘HGV driving ban’ The transition period banning cabotage within EU Member States that applied to Bulgaria and Romania expired at the end of 2011. Using the online guide fromthe Austrian Federal Economic Following a cross-border operation, hau-Chamber (WKÖ), you can check liers now have the right to carry out up towhether a driving ban for HGVs is three domestic transport operations over ain place on any Austrian motor- seven-day period.way or highway. Use of this guide,as yet only available in German, The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber Photo: iStockPhotois free to access from a PC: www. (WKÖ) reports that since the beginning of thewko.at/ratgeber/lkwfahrver- year, the ban on cabotage within the Euro-bot or mobile: www.wko.at/rat- pean Union that applied to Bulgaria andgeber/lkwfahrverbotmobile or Romania, limited to three years with a pos-by using the QR-Code reader on sible extension to a maximum of five years From 1st January cabotage freedom for BG and RO to AT.your smartphone. (3+2), has been lifted. In answer to an enquiry, WKÖ confirmed that transport and logistics from the beginning of the year, so-called tran- companies from these countries are now allo- sit-cabotage would also apply to companies wed, following a cross-border operation, to from accession states: according to this, after carry out up to three cabotage operations in a transport company has unloaded its cross- Austria over a seven-day period after unloa- border load and driven with an empty vehicle ding. The German transport magazine ‘Ver- into another EU member state, it is entitled to kehrsrundschau’ reported the German road carry out a single cabotage operation there traffic association SVG Hessen as saying that within three days.
page 4 EuroBosnia and Herzegovina:Construction of the VcCorridor to begin Introduction of euro – According to the Austrian a nail-biting eventCentre for Foreign Trade in The euro is having a rough ride: State budgets are going through a sticky patchSarajevo, the Government and the mood in most CEE countries is against its speedy introduction.of the Federation of Bosniaand Herzegovina plans tostart construction of an At the moment, most candidates affirm theiradditional 150 kilometres of intention to continue to adhere to the time sche-motorway in 2012. Funds dule, although experts doubt that they will meetare already in place for 45 the necessary criteria.kilometres of motorway,whilst the remaining 105 Many experts believe that Estonia‘s accession Photo: APA / DPAkilometres are to be finan- to the eurozone early in 2011 will remain the last forced and constructed by a long time. Latvia and Lithuania are next in line tointernational investors. The adopt the euro as their national currency and areVc Pan European transport already members of the European Exchange Ratecorridor, which is a branch Mechanism 2 (ERM 2), which is the final stage The number of euro opponents in CEE countries is on the increase.of the V Pan European before introduction. Lithuania is not going to beTransport Corridor (Kiev- blown off course and is still aiming for accession toVenice), will link Budapest in the eurozone in 2014. Things should go as planned debt and transfer union. Necas has announced aHungary to the Adriatic this year, despite just failing to meet the main cri- referendum on the introduction of the euro, leading(South Dalmatia) via Bosnia terion for a budget deficit of not more than 3 per- to an internal political dispute amongst politiciansand Herzegovina. cent of GDP in 2011. Public opinion, which has tur- in Prague. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, ned against the euro as a result of the malaise in an advocate of the common currency, promptly Greece, remains an unknown factor; this also holds countered by¬ pointing out that the country was true in Latvia. committed to the introduction of the euro. Schwar- zenberg: “The Czech Republic‘s reputation is atImportant legislative Monetary union becomes debt union stake.” Hungary, which formerly intended introdu-amendments in Slovakia Romania, which has had to postpone introduc- cing the euro as a method of payment in 2006, is tion of the euro once already, is also still struggling currently not considering introduction of the single with key economic data, but the Balkan state is currency. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has spoken Law firm e|n|w|c Natlacen sticking to its goal of euro accession in 2015. plainly on numerous occasions: “Hungary has otherWalderdorff Cancola During a state visit to Germany, State President problems at the moment,” but views 2020 as a pos-advokáti s.r.o. reminds us Traian Basescu whimsically pronounced: “Please sible target date, however: “Nothing is possiblethat the first part of a com- do not laugh, for we are deadly serious.” Bucha- until then.” Bulgaria has postponed introduction ofprehensive amendment to rest-based Austrian Trade Commissioner Rudolf the euro indefinitely, due to the EU debt crisis. Ori-the law concerning bank- Lukavsky thinks that it may yet prove possible to ginally, the country wanted to introduce the curren-ruptcy and restructuring meet the requirements in view of the stable cy in 2013, but the crisis in neighbouring Greececame into force in Slovakia exchange rate that has existed for years. In and having to contribute to aid packages for richerwith effect from the begin- Romania‘s case, however, it may perhaps be sen- euro countries have conspired to discourage bothning of the year. Business sible to go on postponing the date. Romania the government and people of the EU‘s poorestmagazine SUCCEED should await further developments in the euro cri- country. According to the Bulgarian Open Societyreports that the second part sis, plus, the current weak purchasing power Institute, only 13 per cent of Bulgarians support theis to follow subsequently in ought to militate against the introduction of the introduction of the euro. The number of euro oppo-2013. According to SUC- common currency. The introduction of the com- nents in the Balkan country has risen dramatically „CEED, some changes will mon currency has receded into the background in to 57 percent.impact hard on foreign inve- other Eastern European countries too. In Poland,stors in particular: The auto- though, Prime Minister Donald Tusk and other lea-matic subordination of ding politicians often express their commitment toclaims from affiliated com- the euro.panies means that parentcompanies which have CEE countries sceptical about the euro Please do not laugh, forgranted Slovakian subsi- The euro is once again out of favour in the Czechdiary companies a loan will Republic. In October 2011, former Euro supporter we are deadly seriousbe the last to receive pay- Prime Minister Petr Necas declared his reluctance about joining the euro.”ment should the subsidiary to set a firm date for introduction of the currency. Traian Basescudeclare bankruptcy. He argued that the currency union was becoming a Romanian President
Romania page 5 Overview: Changes in taxes and law Romania seeking a calm spell • Poland: Amendments to the Commercial Code of The recently elected Romanian government will strive to introduce a period of 1st April 2001 came into consolidation for the country. force in the New Year. ¬From early 2012, compa- nies intending to move to Poland can set up a limi- ted company online. Mas- sive changes took effect in labour, contracting and fiscal law also, according to law firm Gorzawski & Jedrych. For more information, visit: http://www.gj-law.pl/ • Czech Republic: SUC- CEED ¬magazine for busi- ness and economics Photo: APA reports that the reduced rate of VAT has been European Union says: Romania not exploiting EU funding to the full. increased from 10% to 14% since early 2012 and will reach 17.5% in 2013.Newly elected Prime Minister Mihai Razvan from the financial crisis/crises, explains an expert The Czech governmentUngureanu – who took up office officially on 9th in Romanian affairs at the Institute for Internatio- intends harmonising theFebruary – put the consolidation of economic nal Economic Studies in Vienna (WIIW). The rate of Value Added Taxstability at the top of the agenda. whole region is affected. A new assessment of (VAT). According to the the situation has resulted increasingly in money magazine, housing and In 2011, economic growth was a good 2.5 per- being held by central banks and hardly ever rea- public transport costs willcent (compared to the previous year), even though ching the outer extremities, explains the econo- be most affected; theonce again in the fourth quarter there were signs of mist. Lukavsky thinks that there have been some basic VAT rate applicablea slowdown compared to the previous quarter. successes in recent years – with “minor side here, which is currentlyGrowth hovered just above zero, according to effects”, but the budget is under control thanks to 20%, will remainRomanian sources. The Romanian Central Bank swingeing cuts that have resulted in a fall in the unchanged in 2012, butforecasts growth of around 1.2 percent for this year. purchasing power of Romanians. That was reflec- will likewise be set atThe Institute for International Economic Studies in ted, according to the Austrian Trade Commissio- 17.5% in 2013.Vienna (WIIW) is confident that a figure of 2.1 per- ner, in the 2010 data for domestic investmentscent economic growth can be achieved. That would (data for 2011 not yet available), which fell by • Hungary: In Hungary too,put the country in the number two spot in the CEE 13.5 percent. a higher rate of VAT hasregion behind Poland. With regard to government been applied sincedebt, the country is definitely doing better than the Poor handling of EU funds 01.01.2012. According toEU27 average; in the third quarter of 2011, debt The Balkan country is being kept on its toes the Austrian Federal Eco-amounted to 33.3 per cent of GDP, and 82.2 percent about EU subsidies. For quite some time, the EU nomic Chamber (WKÖ),of GDP among the EU27. has criticised the country for its poor use of fun- the general rate of tax is ding. During the period 2007 to 2013, Romania 27¬%. The tax rate for milkNo money from Central Banks had a total of 19.2 billion euros of EU funds at its and milk products, bakery At present, foreign direct investment (FDI) is a disposal. By the end of January 2012, according products, and district hea-problem area. There has been a massive decline to statistics from the EU’s ministry, a major part ting is 18%, and 5% forin net capital inflow levels in recent years. In 2008, of the money had been used for regional deve- medicines, books and16 billion euros of foreign capital flowed into lopment. Romania is definitely in last place in newspapers. Hotel staysRomania. In 2011, according to government data, the EU, having utilised a mere 6.3 percent of attract a rate of 18%, whe-the figure was only 2 billion euros. According to available funds. The new Premier has put this reas all other hotel ser-Austrian Trade Commissioner Rudolf Lukavsky, fact at the very top of his agenda. Romania has vices are taxed at 27%.the FDI Stock (at the end of 2010) has at least to correct this situation and use EU funds “cor-remained stable at round 9.35 billion euros. rectly, transparently and efficiently,” explained For more information,Behind this lies the ‘shift in risk analysis’ resulting Ungureanu. visit wko.at.
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