Countries to Watch For in the EU in 2014

By Michael Jones (michael.jones@tsiglobalconsulting.com)

The EU has always interested me.  The idea that the former combatants in two of the bloodiest wars in human history could overcome their differences and come together as one always seemed so poetic, and I became fascinated at the implications of a united Europe for the rest of the world.  Of course, in reality, the EU has not quite attained that ideal of absolute unity, as its now-infamous debt crisis wracked the continent with economic turmoil and showed just how fragmented the system actually is.  However, despite the negative attention placed on Europe, the system is still salvageable: some of the EU’s stronger economies are are keeping it intact, and there are great opportunities for growth and investment within those countries.

The most rapidly-growing economies in the EU may come as a surprise: the tiny Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania have the highest growth rates at 4% and 3.4%, respectively.  Of course, part of this equation is the comparatively low GDP that these countries had in the first place before they began their economic development, but these numbers are still impressive.  For those in the textile, electronics, computer, or agricultural machinery industries, these countries are definitely worth a look as their economies are projected to continue growing in the future.

Of course, no discussion of strong EU economies is complete without mentioning Germany.  During the debt crisis, Germany became famous for bailing out the EU’s struggling economies, all while managing to maintain modest growth rates.  Indeed, this feat is impressive, and when combined with its status as the 4th largest economy in the world, demonstrates that Germany is certainly a country to consider investment in.  However, it is possible that if the EU’s growth continues to stall, Germany will fall behind as well as its growth rates have already drastically slowed in recent years.  Other strong economies in the EU to pay attention to are Sweden and the United Kingdom: both have relatively high growth rates and are on track to continue in this way.

While many countries in the EU have managed to work their way back from the debt crisis, there are some countries that remain mired down in financial woes.  Most notable of these is Cyprus, which is suffering from a devastating decrease in growth that could end up as high as 3.9% by the end of the year.  The more well-known Greece isn’t doing much better, having seen comparable contractions which are likely to persist.  Other countries such as Spain and Italy are gradually recovering, but are still seeing negative growth and are dealing with chronic unemployment.

When the combined economic power of Europe is unleashed, one can see that the EU is indeed a juggernaut as the largest economy in the world.  Foreign businesses can benefit from this power, but only if they know which countries are a smart investment.  TSI Global Consulting has the knowledge and experience to make expansion into the EU a profitable venture.  Give us a call at 210-757-0618 for a consultation.

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