Economic and Political Overview

flag North Macedonia North Macedonia: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

North Macedonia is the poorest of the former Yugoslav republics; however, it has made significant progress in expanding its economy over the past decade: GDP grew an average of 5% annually between 2004 and 2008, driven mainly by domestic consumption and exports (notably metals and textile products). The COVID-19-induced crisis, however, prompted a GDP drop, with the economy returning to growth in 2021 (+4% of GDP) and 2022 (+2.7) driven by private consumption and investment. Rising energy prices and a weak performance in Eurozone partner countries are expected to weaken domestic demand and result in a negative contribution from net trade in 2023, with GDP growth forecasted at 3% by the IMF. In 2024, improving external demand and gradual fiscal consolidation should help growth return closer to its pre-crisis level (3.9%), although uncertainty remains high due to geopolitical risks and energy price pressures.

In 2022, strong revenue growth and lower execution of capital spending helped counterbalance the measures taken by the government to mitigate the energy crisis, which amounted to around EUR 750 million (5.7% of GDP), resulting in an overall budget deficit of 5.3% of GDP. Fitch Ratings projects the general government deficit to decline to 4.8% of GDP in 2023, balancing the weaker growth outlook against the phasing out of certain energy support measures and continued under-execution in capital spending. The country’s debt-to-GDP ratio recorded a marginal increase in 2022, reaching 53.8% from 53.2% one year earlier. The IMF forecasts a ratio of 51.4% this year and 52.1% in 2024. Three-quarters of foreign-currency debt is euro-denominated and currency risks are mitigated by the longevity and credibility of the exchange rate peg. Meanwhile, inflation spiked to 10.6% in 2022 fuelled by high energy and food prices. The National Bank increased its policy rate several times throughout the year, which should help reduce the inflation rate, forecasted at 4.5% this year and 2.4% in 2024 by the IMF. While EU accession talks have been blocked by Greece due to a historic dispute over the name of the country, both the EU and Greek authorities praised the decision of the North Macedonian parliament to change it to the Republic of North Macedonia. In March 2020, the General Affairs Council of the EU decided to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia, and in July 2020 the draft negotiating framework was presented to the Member States. Nevertheless, in November the Bulgarian government officially announced that it does not approve the EU negotiation framework for North Macedonia’s accession process and thus practically blocked the country’s membership process over slow progress on the implementation of the 2017 Friendship Treaty between the two countries. This obstacle was overcome after North Macedonia and Bulgaria signed a bilateral protocol in July 2022, but the road ahead is still long as before formal membership talks are launched, North Macedonia must amend its Constitution to include the Bulgarians among the other nation-building countries listed in its preamble.

Unemployment – estimated at 15.2% in 2022 by the IMF – is still really high and was exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. Despite the recovery and continued government support to employers, employment growth is expected to pick up only marginally over the forecast horizon, with the unemployment rate declining to 15% in 2023 and 14.8% next year (IMF). However, much of the workforce is employed in the informal economy, thus the exact level of unemployment is hard to assess. According to the latest figures from Eurostat, about a third of North Macedonian citizens live below the poverty line or are at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The country’s GDP per capita (PPP) was estimated at USD 19,783 in 2022 by the IMF; nevertheless, the income ratio between the richest and poorest 20% of the population is more than eight times, the highest in the EU.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 13.5915.8017.4318.4519.54
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 2.12.53.23.53.5
GDP per Capita (USD) 6,6007,6728,4638,9579,489
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 52.151.650.451.150.7
Inflation Rate (%) n/a10.04.32.22.0
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 14.414.314.114.013.9
Current Account (billions USD) -0.81-0.52-0.57-0.56-0.56
Current Account (in % of GDP) -6.0-3.3-3.3-3.0-2.9

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The Republic of North Macedonia (formerly known as FYROM) has been traditionally based on the agriculture sector, which nowadays represents 7.2% of the GDP and employs 14% of the active population (World Bank, latest data available). According to figures from the UNDP, the North Macedonian agricultural sector is a very profitable business, also due to widespread governmental subsidies (the largest portion of the agriculture budget consists of direct payments for agriculture production and rural development). Arable agricultural land accounts for half of the total territory, of which about two-thirds are categorised as pastures and the rest as arable agricultural land. According to the data of the State Statistical Office, cultivated land in 2021 covered an area of 516,733 hectares. The country mainly produces grapes, tobacco, vegetables and fruits. Sheep and goat breeding is equally important. There are a few deposits of iron, copper and lead in the country. One of the limits of the sector is that parcels are very small and fragmented, with over half of the parcels consisting of two to five hectares, and only 0.14% with 50 hectares or more.

The industrial sector represents 22.4% of the GDP and employs 31% of the active population. It includes chemical products, steel, machinery and textiles. The textile sector constitutes the second main industry of the country after metallurgy (especially the leather industry), with the textile production output being close to an all-time high in the last two decades. The automotive sector enjoys dynamic development and growing importance for the country’s economy. The manufacturing sector alone contributes almost 13% of the GDP (World Bank). According to data from the country’s statistical office, North Macedonia's industrial production edged down 0.3% on the year in 2022.

The tertiary sector represents 56.9% of the GDP and employs 55% of the total workforce. The main income sources come from transport, telecommunications and energy production. The information and communication technology industry is the fastest-growing sector of the Macedonian economy. The banking sector is self-funded and stable, and it is composed of 17 institutions (fifteen banks and two savings houses – European Banking Federation). Trade, transport and tourism were among the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 crisis; however, in 2022 the number of foreign tourists who visited North Macedonia reached 537,436, up by 82.8% year-on-year (mostly from Turkey, Serbia and Greece – data from the national statistical office).

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 10.8 30.8 58.4
Value Added (in % of GDP) 8.1 22.9 58.8
Value Added (Annual % Change) 2.0 -4.3 4.7

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
FYROM Denar () - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 1.571.591.541.551.38

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
68,6/100
World Rank:
46
Regional Rank:
27

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

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Foreign Trade in Figures

North Macedonia has an open economy and is highly integrated into international trade, with a total trade-to-GDP ratio of over 148% (World Bank, latest data available). According to data from the State Statistical Office, in 2022 the country mainly exported catalysts with precious metal or precious metal compounds as the active substance, ignition wiring sets and other wiring sets of a kind used in vehicles, and aircraft or ships; while imports were led by petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (other than crude), other metals of the platinum group and alloys thereof, unwrought or in powder form, and electricity and colloidal precious metals.

In 2022, the cuntry’s main export partners were Germany, which accounted for almost half of the total exports alone (45.1%), Bulgaria (5%), Serbia (4.6%), Kosovo (4.6%), and Greece (4%); with the main import origins being Germany (23.4%), the United Kingdom (10.2%), Greece (8.3%), Serbia (5.6%), and China (4.9% - data State Statistical Office). Overall, the EU accounted for 78.3% of total exports and 46.8% of imports. North Macedonia became a member of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) in April 2003. Following a cooperation agreement with the EU, North Macedonia signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which concedes the country duty-free access to European markets. Lastly, in 2006 the country became a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), generally considered the antechamber of the EU.

North Macedonia's trade structure has been traditionally in deficit, however, the gap between imports and exports had been gradually decreasing in recent years. In 2021, the country exported goods worth USD 8.1 billion – a 23.3% increase compared to the previous year – importing USD 11.3 billion (+30% y-o-y). With regard to services, North Macedonia exported USD 2 billion in commercial services, importing USD 1.4 billion (data by WTO). The World Bank estimated the country’s 2021 overall trade deficit at 16% of GDP (from 12.7% one year earlier). According to preliminary data from the State Statistical Office, the total value of exported goods from the Republic of North Macedonia in the period January-December 2022 amounted to USD 8.7 billion, a 6.6% increase compared to the same period one year earlier; whereas the value of imported goods stood at USD 12.7 billion, 12% more year-on-year.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 9,0509,4718,71511,38612,755
Exports of Goods (million USD) 6,9117,1896,6388,1868,727
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,4191,4411,1771,4651,656
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,8611,8181,6552,0602,431
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 10.710.1-10.911.916.1
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 12.88.9-10.911.713.4
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 72.876.270.582.395.9
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 60.462.457.866.274.9
Trade Balance (million USD) -2,055-2,182-2,060-2,792-3,639
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,612-1,805-1,583-2,197-2,865
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 133.2138.6128.2148.5170.8

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
Germany 45.1%
Serbia 9.2%
Bulgaria 5.0%
Greece 3.9%
Italy 3.5%
See More Countries 33.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
United Kingdom 15.8%
Greece 11.2%
Germany 8.6%
China 7.8%
Serbia 7.1%
See More Countries 49.5%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

Main Products

8.7 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Reaction initiators, reaction accelerators and...Reaction initiators, reaction accelerators and catalytic preparations, n.e.s. (excl. rubber accelerators) 30.1%
Insulated "incl. enamelled or anodised" wire,...Insulated "incl. enamelled or anodised" wire, cable "incl. coaxial cable" and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 7.2%
Seats, whether or not convertible into beds, and...Seats, whether or not convertible into beds, and parts thereof, n.e.s. (excl. medical, surgical, dental or veterinary of heading 9402) 3.0%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.9%
Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel,...Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, of a width >= 600 mm, hot-rolled, not clad, plated or coated 2.7%
See More Products 54.0%
12.8 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Platinum, incl. palladium, rhodium, iridium,...Platinum, incl. palladium, rhodium, iridium, osmium and ruthenium, unwrought or in semi-manufactured forms, or in powder form 11.2%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 8.9%
Electrical energyElectrical energy 4.9%
Colloidal precious metals; inorganic or organic...Colloidal precious metals; inorganic or organic compounds of precious metals, whether or not chemically defined; amalgams of precious metals 4.0%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 3.1%
See More Products 67.8%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 
 

Main Services

2.3 bn USD of services exported in 2022
26.60%
25.51%
20.64%
19.99%
2.81%
2.30%
1.34%
0.59%
0.18%
0.04%
n/a%
1.6 bn USD of services imported in 2022
34.23%
19.13%
17.79%
8.42%
6.35%
4.86%
3.99%
2.21%
1.23%
1.12%
0.67%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Economy
Ministry of Transportation and Communications
Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
Statistical Office
National Bureau of Statistics
Central Bank
National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia
Stock Exchange
Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Google
Economic Portals

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Stevo PENDAROVSKI (since 12 May 2019)
Prime Minister: Dimitar KOVACEVSKI (since 16 January 2022)
Next Election Dates
President: 2024
Legislative: 2024
Main Political Parties
The country's main political differences are often ethnically fuelled, and political parties often represent different ethnic groups of the country: the majority includes Slavo-Macedonians, while the minorities are Albanian and Turkish. The major political parties include:

- Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM): centre-left, social democratic party, supports reconciliation with Albanian minorities. Leader of the centre-left coalition "We Can"
- Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE): centre-right, a Christian democratic party supporting the interests of the ethnic Slavo-Macedonian majority. Leader of the centre-right coalition (Renewal)
- Democratic Union for Integration (DUI): the largest party among the Albanian population
- Alliance for Albanians (AA): conservatism; party comprising ethnic Albanians
- The Left: socialist
- Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA): ultra-nationalist, an ethnic party of Albanians
- BESA Movement: social conservatism
- Roma People's Party: party comprising ethnic Romani
- Turkish Democratic Party: centre, party comprising of ethnic Turkish
Type of State
North Macedonia is a republic with a parliamentary democracy.
Executive Power
North Macedonia proclaimed its independence in 1991, at the time of the dissolution of the former Federal Social Republic of Yugoslavia. The country is a federal republic, its current constitution was adopted on November 20, 1991.

The executive power is formed by the President, elected by popular vote for a five-year term renewable once, and the Prime Minister. The leader of the majority party or majority coalition is generally elected Prime Minister by the Assembly and is in charge of forming the government.

Legislative Power
The legislative power is conducted by the Parliament (called Sobranie), the central instrument of the political system. It is unicameral and the assembly is composed of 120-140 members (currently 120) who are elected every four years by direct popular vote.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
90/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Partly Free
Political Freedom:
3/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of North Macedonia, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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Latest Update: December 2023