Key Features and Challenges of the China-Western Balkan Countries Merchandise Trade Development
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The economic growth and development of the Western Balkan largely depend on the integration of national economies into international trade flows. Bearing in mind the expanding presence of China in the Western Balkan countries and the considerable increase in bilateral trade over the previous decade, it is of great importance to focus on the strategies for overcoming main challenges and fostering more balanced trade in the forthcoming period. Regarding that, the main aim of the research was to analyze trade flows and patterns and investigate the trade intensity between the Western Balkan countries and China. Furthermore, the research attempted to determine the main challenges and to consider the strategic approach to their overwhelming, including better exploiting the opportunities provided by trade cooperation with China in the rapidly changing global environment.
The paper used desk research - a descriptive analysis of data on merchandise trade between six Western Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, North Macedonia, and Serbia) and China. The analysis was based on the data available in the UN Comtrade and Trade Map statistical databases for the period 2016-2021. In addition, the Trade intensity index (TTI) was also used in the paper in order to discover how intensively the Western Balkan countries were trading with China.
However, despite the rapid trade growth with China, its share in the WB countries' total trade remains at a relatively low level of about 7%. The trade deficit also increased significantly, indicating a deepening of the asymmetry in the economic relations of the observed countries. Although the trade intensity index (TII) confirms the deepening of trade relations, the TII value of 0.24 in 2021 indicates that trade between the Western Balkans and China is still under-represented and there is considerable room for improvement.
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