The Eastern European countries in the EU, or Central and Eastern European Countries (CEE) alone comprise 11 EU member states and over 120 million consumers. Some have been EU member states since 2004 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Slovenia), while Romania and Bulgaria joined in 2007 and Croatia in 2013. Poland is undoubtedly the biggest market in the region and the best known, opportunities exist across the region.
First Steps: Research
Key information resources are important in developing Eastern Europe Business Connections. Emerging-europe.com holds economic data, reports and background information on CEE states.
Countryeconomy.com is an invaluable resource for data tables ranging from GDP to Corruption Perceptions and many others between.
You will also want to consult the country’s chambers of commerce organisations and any sector-relevant business associations in your target country.
Case Study Example 1: Slovakia
Slovakia is a NATO member in the Euro zone, population 5.429 million. It is bordered by Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine, so it is well situated.
Known as the Tatra Tiger, due to its rapidly growing economy between 2002-2007, still buoyant today: 3.3% growth in 2016 and holding steady. Emerging-europe.com advises that key sectors with opportunity for growth and investment include its fast-growing automotive industry, electronics, mechanical engineering chemical production, and IT& ICT.
The British Chamber of Commerce in the Slovak Republic (www.britcham.sk) is an English-language, non-profit organisation dedicated to creating and developing business relationships between the United Kingdom and the Slovak Republic.
Case Study Example 2: Estonia
Scotching the myth of CEE countries as places where it’s tricky to transact is Estonia, placed 13th out of 139 countries in Forbes’ Best Countries for Business, way ahead of Germany at #21, for example.
It is a member of the WTO & NATO, uses the Euro for currency and holds the EU presidency.
Despite a small population of 1.3 million, Estonia has big credentials: its location affords excellent access to both Nordic and CEE markets – ideal for Eastern Europe Business Connections; it’s a world leader in IT with one of the highest internet usage global rankings and according to Inc.com, the capital Tallinn is among the 5 Global Cities of the Future.
investinestonia.com lists key business sectors as IT-related: software, cybersecurity, e-identity etc., as well as mechatronics, mechanical engineering, and a number of healthcare niches, including e-Health, biotechnology, genetics and pharmaceuticals.
The British Estonian Chamber of Commerce exists to facilitate British business in Estonia and may be found at www.becc.ee.
We have looked at just 2 of the 11 CEE member states here, but the methodology of research laid out is applicable to all. In addition, The UK Trade and Investment Board/Department for International Trade website is an invaluable guide to the region and exportbritain.org.uk provides useful market snapshots.
Polish Business Link offers advice and is a treasure trove of resources, links and technical information about all aspects of Polish/British business, as well as Eastern Europe Business Connections.