The slow recovery in the European Union, Southeast Europe’s (SEE) main trading partner, the sluggish prospects facing nearly all economies in the region and shrunken domestic demand all left their mark on corporate bottomlines in 2013. At the same time, long overdue structural reforms, fiscal and regulatory volatility and poor infrastructure continued to be a drag on local businesses. Against this backdrop, the performance of the companies in the SEE TOP 100 ranking was expectedly lackluster – their combined revenues in 2013 were flattish, with nearly half of the entrants seeing a decline in their revenues.
The patchy performance of the economies of the countries in Southeast Europe (SEE) proved a drag on the region’s insurance industry in 2013, leading to a drop of 2.0% to 6.2 billion euro in the combined gross written premiums (GWP) of the entrants in the 2013 edition of the SEE TOP 100 insurers ranking compared to the companies that made the 2012 cut.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) raised its investments in Southeast Europe, a region that has remained particularly vulnerable to the effects of problems in the eurozone, to around 1.65 billion euro in 2013 from 1.5 billion euro in 2012. In 2013, EBRD investments remained strong in Turkey, totalling around 920 million euro. In the Western Balkans and Croatia, the EBRD invested a record 1.2 billion euro in more than 80 projects in 2013.
The transport infrastructure of SEE consists of national transport systems and a number of integrated international networks that upon their completion should ensure quick and unhampered movement of people and goods across Europe. This makes the integrated European transport system a key prerequisite for the seamless operation of the internal market and for the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the European countries.
The global economic slowdown of 2012 was far sharper than expected and its impact on the economies of Southeast Europe turned the spotlight on the region’s structural weaknesses whilst also exacerbating the effects of the eurozone debt crisis. For these economies, 2013 is a year of readjustment and renewing commitments to creating robust and sustainable economic growth, an approach which is forecast to result in more promising rates of real output in 2014.
The performance of SEE’s TOP 100 insurers in 2012 is something of a feat. Judging by the overall figures, insurance companies may have finally glimpsed the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel given expectations for a return to GDP growth (albeit very modest) in the region.