Economy of Macedonia
The breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991 deprived the Economy of the Republic of Macedonia, then its poorest republic (only 5% of the total federal output of goods and services), of its key protected markets and large transfer payments from the center. An absence of infrastructure, United Nations sanctions on its largest market Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and a Greek economic embargo hindered economic growth until 1996.
Worker remittances and foreign aid have softened the subsequent volatile recovery period. GDP has increased each year except in 2001, rising by 5% in 2000. However, growth in 1999 was held down by the severe regional economic dislocations caused by the Kosovo war.
Successful privatization in 2000 boosted the country's reserves to over $700 million. Also, the leadership demonstrated a continuing commitment to economic reform, free trade, and regional integration. The economy can meet its basic food needs but depends on outside sources for all of its oil and gas and most of its modern machinery and parts. Inflation jumped to 11% in 2000, largely due to higher oil prices.
Real GDP in the first half of 2011 increased by 5.2%. This robust growth was mainly driven by 23.6% growth in the construction sector; 13.2% in mining, quarrying, and manufacturing; 12.4% in wholesale and retail trade; and 4.2% in transport and communication services. Industrial output in the first 8 months of 2011 was 7.5% higher than in the same period of 2010. Low public and external debt and a comfortable level of foreign exchange reserves allowed for further relaxation of monetary policy, with the reference interest rate of the Central Bank decreasing to 4%. Due to rising prices for energy, fuel, and food on international markets, inflation increased in the first half of 2011, but later decreased to an annualized rate of 3.4% at the end of September. The official unemployment rate dropped to 31.3% in the second quarter of 2011, but remained one of the highest in Europe. Many people work in the gray economy, and many experts estimate Macedonia's actual unemployment as being somewhere between 20%-25%.
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