Press Release on EBI Construction Activity Report Hungary Q4 2022
The latest EBI Construction Activity Report has found that after the weak Q3 2022, Q4 2022 saw a slight nominal expansion in Activity-Start in Hungarian construction. Nonetheless, the value of started construction works was still very low; between October and December 2022 they totalled roughly HUF 650 billion.
This time, though, for better comparability, the analysts of EBI Construction Activity Report also looked at the development of Activity-Start in Q4 2022 at constant prices. This shows that Q4 witnessed a considerably lower construction value, a bit more than Q3 (the negative record in recent years). Yet, whole-year-figures were high thanks to the higher Activity-Start in the first two quarters of 2022 and projects entered construction on more than HUF 3600 billion. Although it was a new record at current prices, it did not approach the highest values of 2017 and 2018 at constant prices and was at the level of 2019 and 2021. Annual change compared to 2021 at current prices was about +21%, while at constant prices it meant a drop of 0.6%.
EBI Construction Activity Report Hungary analyses the construction industry on a quarterly basis, including the volume of newly started construction works and the value of projects completed in each quarter in aggregate and by segment as well. It is prepared by Buildecon, Eltinga (creation of indicators and development of algorithms for aggregation) and iBuild (project research and project database). The EBI Construction Activity Report Q4 2022 can be purchased at email@example.com.
Expansion in value of started building construction works
The modest rise in Activity-Start at current prices was mostly coming from the expansion of building construction with the value of started construction works being HUF 500 billion in Q4 2022. Overall, the entire 2022 brought high numbers. Projects worth more than HUF 2000 billion entered implementation – the highest ever registered.
In Q4 the improvement over Q3 was evident in building construction even at constant prices. But the value of started works, except for 2020, was lower than the quarterly values of the past years. At constant prices, the Activity-Start indicator dropped during 2022 (-16.8%) and was roughly at the level of 2019. The better last three months were also typical for multi-unit housing and non-residential buildings, whether we look at current or constant prices.
In 2022, non-residential construction works were launched at a value of more than HUF 1800 billion, the highest amount so far. Thanks to the good first half of the year, even at constant prices, last year was considered a strong year: constant-price Activity Start of EBI Construction Activity Report was the third highest after 2018 and 2021.
Building construction projects launched in Q4 2022 included the CATL battery factory, the BMW plant, and the EcoPro BM electric battery cathode manufacturing plant in Debrecen. Construction also began on the CTP warehouses in Szigetszentmiklós, the University of Veterinary Medicine and the Siemens Energy M2B gas and steam turbine parts manufacturing plant in Budapest, as well as the logistics hall of HelloParks in Fót.
EECFA’s 2022 Winter Construction Forecast Report was released on 5 December. Full reports can be purchased. Discounts and sample reports: firstname.lastname@example.org. EECFA (Eastern European Construction Forecasting Association) conducts research on the construction markets of 8 Eastern-European countries.
Yet another downward revision characterizes the forecast for both regions. Southeast Europe could see shrinkage on the horizon. This, however, comes after a great period of construction in between 2016 and 2021, so the market is foreseen to come down from a peak level. In this respect, the 3% decline until 2024 is no drama, in EECFA’s view. The drama is in East Europe where the peak was reached in 2018 and the market was around 10% below that peak level even before the Ukraine war began. Since then, EECFA has paused issuing forecasts in Ukraine and a status report has been prepared. Without Ukraine, the region is expected to reach its bottom in 2023.
In Southeast Europe, almost all countries have been revised downward. Three out of them, however, could see expansion until 2024. The foreseen contraction in Romania and Serbia pulls down the region to negative. Romania is quite pessimistic; the market could shrink by almost 10% by 2024. Serbia is expected to witness a sizeable drop, too, before growth returns in 2024. As the region saw much construction in 2016-2021, the market will likely decline from the peak, making the 3% drop on the forecast horizon not-so-drastic.
Under the projected economic slowdown, construction will increasingly be affected by the ongoing political instability that is likely to undermine reforms within the Recovery and Resilience Plan, and delay implementation of the EU’s operational programmes.
Тotal construction output is estimated to have grown in 2022.
For 2023-2024 civil engineering is forecasted to increase at a more accelerated pace.
Residential construction output held up in 2022, impervious to war and disease. But it’s likely residential’s rapid growth will over time succumb to rising prices and a falling population.
Rail construction output will rise as more rail projects come online. Some new high-cost road projects may yet be undertaken for political reasons.
Energy prices will fuel building of oil/gas port facilities, pipelines and storage in 2022-2023, construction that the EU’s green-energy push may quench in favor of renewable energy and power grid projects.
The Romanian construction market is set to shrink slightly in 2023 and 2024 as internal and external factors conspire to make building materials more costly.
Inflation-induced lower purchasing power and growing mortgage interest rates are making loans more expensive, and few people can afford to buy a home in cash.
On the one hand, Romania could benefit from the current global instability and attract more foreign investment to grow its economy. On the other, increased energy costs translate to higher operating and construction costs and discourage investment.
The challenging economic situation will undoubtedly have negative effects on construction outputs. But how negative is the question of external factors and the coming events.
The domestic market is strong, with high public and foreign investments, as well as record employment. The highest economic risk comes from inflation and the expected recession in the EU.
The current economic slowdown could deepen the contraction in case of a prolonged crisis.
Slovenia has experienced expansion in construction output on the back of the strong overall economic growth.
However, risks for the future include high inflation, large construction cost increases, and overheating economic growth. And increased interest rates will depress residential output in the future.
Supply chain constraints might jeopardize the completion of large civil engineering projects.
In East Europe, 2022 could be the 4th consecutive year of drop in Türkiye, and no quick recovery is foreseen on the horizon. We have turned somewhat optimistic in Russia, but only from 2024 on. Without Ukraine, the region will likely hit bottom in 2023. The region reached its peak in 2018 and just before the war in Ukraine started, the market was around 10% below this 2018 level. Owing to the war, Uvecon, the Ukrainian member institute of EECFA, has prepared a status report for the second time instead of the forecast report.
Direct and indirect effects of sanctions hammered the construction market that declined faster in 2022 than previously expected.
Forced acceleration of projects in transport and energy, in response to export and import structure changes due to sanctions, will spur growth in civil engineering.
Many targeted programs and national projects will support the construction sector throughout the forecast horizon.
The construction industry has been trying to deal with high inflation that has led to 120% yearly rise in construction cost and 189% increase in housing prices.
There has been some deficit between produced and needed home numbers since 2000, augmented by the influx of refugees from Syria and neighbouring countries (3,920 million registered; unknown unregistered).
The low-cost housing project of the government as of September is expected to stop the current slump in the construction sector.
Prospects for construction depend on the existing situation on the market as a result of the destruction of residential, non-residential and engineering infrastructure, and the end of hostilities with the possible economic recovery.
Total area of damaged or destroyed housing is 74.1 million sqm (7.3% of the total area of Ukraine’s housing stock), a number which, unfortunately, grows every day. Restoring the housing stock will become a key issue for Ukraine after the war ends.
Energy infrastructure remains the top priority for recovery, as nearly 40% of the energy system has been destroyed.
Press Release on EBI Construction Activity Report Hungary Q3 2022
EBI Construction Activity-Start recorded a sharp falloff in Q3 2022. Between July and September, construction projects started at a value of less than HUF 480 billion – the lowest amount since Q3 2020.
The recent years have seen a considerable price rise in the Hungarian construction industry. In order to filter this out, the analysts of EBI Construction Activity Report compared the value of started construction works at constant prices, using Q3 2022 prices. Based on this, at constant prices, an even greater decline is seen in case of started construction works. In Q3 2022 they have registered their lowest value since 2015. At the same time, thanks to the successful first quarter, the drop was not yet visible based on the figures of the first 9 months, which even at constant prices exceeded the same periods of 2020 and 2021.
EBI Construction Activity Report Hungary analyses the construction industry on a quarterly basis, including the volume of newly started construction works and the value of projects completed in each quarter in aggregate and by segment as well. It is prepared by Buildecon, Eltinga (creation of indicators and development of algorithms for aggregation) and iBuild (project research and project database). The EBI Construction Activity Report Q3 2022 has been released and can be purchased at email@example.com.
Value of building construction works down
The decline in Activity-Start witnessed in the construction industry as a whole was observed in building construction, too. The total value of started construction works was around HUF 300 billion, far below the typical first and second quarters. Looking at constant prices, the drop is even more visible. One needs to go back to Q1 2015 to find a lower value than this year’s third quarter. Yet, it is also true in case of buildings that the better first and second quarters pushed up annual figures.
The decrease was also true to residential and non-residential. For the latter, the Activity-Start of EBI Construction Activity Report was around HUF 260 billion, which, at current prices, fell short not only of the figures of the first two quarters, but also of most of the levels of quarters between 2018 and 2021. At constant prices, it was the lowest since Q1 2015.
Building construction projects launched in Q3 2022 included the W-Scope separator film factory in Nyíregyháza, and ParkSide Offices, RTL HQ, Zugló-Városközpont Offices 1 in Budapest. Work also began between July and September on Phase 2 of Campus in Kecskemét, Panattoni Park Budapest City West logistics center in Törökbálint, and the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Gödöllő.
Bulgaria’s Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) aims to facilitate economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and to create a more sustainable, equitable, and successful economy. It includes a set of schemes not only to restore the economy’s growth potential, but to boost it, too. In achieving this, several construction projects to increase energy efficiency and decrease CO2 impact are to be implemented in 2023-2026.
How the RRP will impact housing construction
One of the major projects provides support for sustainable energy-efficient renovation of the housing stock since, currently, only 7% of the floor area of occupied residential buildings complies with modern energy efficiency (EE) requirements. The project, to be launched by end 2022 with an implementation period till 2026, will attract a total of EUR 607mln under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). Multi-family residential buildings will be eligible for financing nationwide and renovated units have to achieve 30% primary energy savings. Residential buildings to be financed under this scheme are divided into two groups depending on the time of application of owners’ associations:
applications until March 2023: 100% of the project funding will be provided from the RRP,
applications from April 2023 to December 2023: 80% of the project funding will be provided under the RRP, and 20% will be in the form of self-contribution.
Another project with an implementation period till 2025 is dubbed “Program for the financing of single renewable energy measures in single-family and multi-family buildings”. Total planned funding is EUR 123mln (EUR 72mln from the RRP and EUR 51mln in the form of national and private co-financing). The project aims to increase the use of renewable energy in final energy consumption in households by financing new solar systems for domestic hot water and photovoltaic systems. There are two measures:
construction of solar systems for domestic hot water supply. The maximum amount of grant per individual household is to be 100% of the cost of the system, but no more than EUR 1000;
construction of photovoltaic systems up to 10 kW. The maximum amount of grant per individual household is to be up to 70% of the system cost, but no more than EUR 7700.
How non-residential construction will benefit from the RRP
One of the projects finances – between 2022 and 2026 – the sustainable energy renovation of non-residential buildings owned by municipalities and national authorities (regional administrations, ministries); the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; public-private partnerships for buildings in the field of production, trade and services; non-profit legal entities, municipal enterprises, and commercial companies. The project consists of two components: 1) EUR 189mln (without VAT) to public buildings; 2) EUR 120mln (without VAT) for manufacturing, commercial and service buildings.
Press Release on EBI Construction Activity Report Hungary Q2 2022
Hungary’s high construction Activity Start in Q1 2022 was followed by a slowdown in Q2. The Q2 2022 EBI Construction Activity Report has found that between this April and June construction works started at a value of around HUF 800 billion. Although the value of projects entering construction decreased in Q2, these are not low numbers at all as Activity Start has been the 5th highest (on a quarterly basis) of recent years. It should be added, though, that recently construction costs have dramatically increased, massively pushing up the Activity Start indicator calculated at current prices, while at constant prices the volume would be lower.
EECFA’s 2022 Summer Construction Forecast Report was released on 27 June. Full reports can be purchased. Discounts and sample reports: firstname.lastname@example.org. EECFA (Eastern European Construction Forecasting Association) conducts research on the construction markets of 8 Eastern-European countries.
Our earlier optimism over the Southeast European region of EECFA has gone. The current forecast is foreshadowing almost no growth until 2023 and contraction in 2024. The main reason behind is the worsening climate for construction due to the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the Eastern European region, we have turned pessimistic. The market of Russia and Turkey together is projected to stay below its 2021 level until 2024. We haven’t been able to provide our standard forecast for Ukraine in this summer round, but a status report has been compiled. We will resume providing forecast as soon as construction-related data collection of Ukrstat returns to normal.
Forecast for Romania, the largest Southeast European construction market, has been revised downward. Instead of expansion, shrinkage is our current scenario. Serbia, which was the fastest growing market in the past 7 years, has an even more pessimistic outlook than in the previous forecast round. In Bulgaria, a whole different trajectory of spending EU funds is the reason behind the revision. We are negative on Russia all the way over the horizon and in Turkey the start of the recovery is expected to be postponed for yet another year.
Bulgaria. Owing to several external and domestic factors, outlook for Bulgaria’s economy to grow faster in 2022 has been reduced. And this year the construction market has entered a period of increasing unpredictability and heterogeneous performance. Residential construction has benefited from favourable financing conditions, and residential property has been used as a hedge against inflation. However, this will not last forever. EECFA is not optimistic in non-residential construction, while civil engineering could expand over the forecast horizon. Total construction output is prognosticated to be in the black with low, but positive growth rates in 2022-2024.
Croatia. The picture for Croatia’s construction sector is mixed, both from sector to sector and within sectors. Sector-to-sector, the output growth rates of Croatian construction sectors are decoupling, as some come close to completing the post-transition catch-up growth phase, while others are not nearly so far along. Within sectors, the strength of crucial output drivers, e.g., tourism season results, construction cost inflation, interest rate evolution, is uncertain and very dependent on events and policymakers’ reactions to them. Overall, the picture looks bright now, especially for residential construction, but the fight against inflation or a serious new COVID-19 outbreak could darken it rapidly and considerably.
Romania. As the short-term effects of the pandemic dissipate, the economy faces new challenges such as inflation and global trade disruptions. GDP is set to grow by 2.9% in 2022, in real terms, down from the previous prediction, but by 2023 (+4.4%) and 2024 (+4.8%) growth could accelerate (source: the National Forecasting Commission). Construction showed signs of recovery, so total construction output is to nominally grow, but slightly decrease in real terms this year. Material and energy prices have battered infrastructure projects hardest as seeking extra financing can be lengthy and difficult. Threats to construction growth in this forecast horizon are evidently increased costs of materials and energy, counter-inflationary policies, and the instability caused by the neighbouring war to regional and global trade networks. Countering these are the positive outlook for wages, employment, investment, and the overall economy. The availability of EU programs for co-financing, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility, could also help certain construction segments.
Serbia. In these challenging times, it will be a real endeavour to keep the pace and level of construction activity, even for a heated and growing Serbian economy. Unfortunately, economic and political developments in Europe are threatening to forcefully subdue the growing cycle in construction and the economy as a whole. So far, the economy is showing a relative resilience and construction activity has only slightly decreased compared to its expected performance in 2022, while permits are still keeping the good tempo. Nevertheless, the risks are still there, and a prolonged instability could produce a much deeper downturn and longer recovery. The strong performance of civil engineering and residential will assist this year’s output levels, but prospects for the rest of this forecast period are still quite conditioned by external factors. The ongoing economic crisis in the EU could easily escalate and produce further adjustments for 2023 and 2024 figures.
Slovenia. Construction output increased fast in 2021 as the pandemic subsided. With rapid economic growth following in 2022, total construction output will likely exceed EUR 4 billion for the first time since 2008. Real growth will be slower, though, as construction cost index has also increased with the fastest pace in a decade, up by more than 10% in 2021 and 2022. Future growth is projected to be slower, especially if interest rates grow faster than expected due to high inflation rates. Still, several large civil engineering as well as residential construction projects are set to continue and prevent construction output from decreasing.
Russia. Last year, the Russian economy showed strong recovery, partly on the back of construction whose growth turned out to be much better than expected (6,8% instead of 3,2% that EECFA had previously forecasted). The reasons behind were the active completion of non-residential projects that had been frozen in 2020, high demand in the housing market that supported construction activity in residential, and considerable state funding for various infrastructure projects that accelerated growth in civil engineering. However, the special military operation in Ukraine that began in February this year has neutralized all positive trends in construction and has led to a sharp worsening in the macroeconomic situation. Unprecedented economic sanctions imposed on Russia will inevitably affect the construction sector whose output is predicted to be negative throughout the forecast horizon: -2,7% in 2022 and from -1% to -1,4% in 2022-2024.
Türkiye. The Turkish economy is facing an unprecedented devaluation in Lira and soaring inflation, hammering wage earners. Manufacturing sectors relying on imported inputs, agriculture, and construction in particular, face difficulties in financing production and selling to customers with lower real incomes. But industrial production and exports are not much hit by the weakened Lira. Since the beginning of 2022, housing shortage, high dwelling prices and rents have been an issue. In the last 21 years fewer homes were built than the need, and the around 3,8 million Syrian refugees and illegal migrants appear to contribute to housing shortage. Due to the roughly 2,8 million dwelling units under construction, housing starts in Q1 2022 may continue to fall by the end of the year. The small decline in housing completion, however, because of declining demand under current macroeconomic conditions, may turn into a positive rate of change under the effects of interest rate subsidies for mortgage loans. Total construction output in Türkiye in 2022 is estimated to contract, so it would be the fourth consecutive year of decline. Mild recovery is expected to begin from next year on.
Ukraine. Since February 2022, Ukraine has been at war with Russia. As of June 2022, the Russians destroyed up to 30% of Ukraine’s infrastructure, damaged 2% of overpasses and more than 23,000 km of roads in Ukraine. About 20% of Ukraine’s territory is being occupied. Russia blocked the seaports through which imported goods were delivered to Ukraine. Building material factories and warehouses mostly remained in the occupied territory and most developers have frozen their projects for an indefinite period. Despite this, some positive signs are beginning to appear in the construction market, mainly in residential where the market is gradually reviving, adapting to the military situation (especially in the relatively safe western region). Little by little, critical infrastructure is being restored (destroyed bridges, roads, electricity and gas supply, communication lines). Under these conditions of major uncertainty, and before the end of the war, predicting future developments in the construction market of Ukraine is impossible. Therefore, Uvecon, EECFA’s Ukrainian member institute in Kiev, prepared a brief Status Report this time instead of the usual Forecast Report.
Source of data: EECFA Construction Forecast Report, 2022 Summer
Press Release on EBI Construction Activity Report Q1 2022
The Hungarian construction industry started off this year with an exceptionally high Activity Start indicator: nearly HUF 1,300 billion worth construction works started in Q1 2022. The Activity Start of EBI Construction Activity Report in the first quarter is a new record (construction works have never started in such a high value in one quarter) and exceeded the level of Q2 2021 (the highest so far) by almost 37%. Yet, this spike is mainly thanks to the launch of two major projects: 1) the Soroksár-Kelebia section of the Budapest-Belgrade railway corridor and 2) the road section between Kecskemét and Szentkirály on M44.
EBI Construction Activity Report Hungary analyses the construction industry on a quarterly basis, including the volume of newly started construction works and the value of projects completed in each quarter in aggregate and by segment as well. It is prepared by Buildecon, Eltinga (creation of indicators and development of algorithms for aggregation) and iBuild (project research and project database). The EBI Construction Activity Report Q1 2022 has been released and can be purchased at email@example.com.
Stagnant building construction
The value of started building construction projects was slightly more than HUF 430 billion in the first 3 months of 2022; a good start to the year. The Activity Start of EBI Construction Activity Report was a bit below the value of the same period of the previous year but compared to the last two quarters of 2021, there has been no major change in the Activity Start of building construction. And the first 3 months of 2022 were considerably better than the period between April and December 2020.
Within building construction, the Activity Start of residential construction was modest: the value of started construction works stayed below HUF 90 billion. The Activity Start indicator of non-residential buildings was almost HUF 350 billion in Q1 2022, lower than the very strong first 2 quarters of 2021, but almost the same as the values of Q3 and Q4 2021.
The biggest started building projects in Q1 2022 included Kovács Katalin National Kayak-Canoe Sports Academy in Sukoró, eMAG logistics centre in Dunaharaszti, and ActiCity Event Center in Veszprém. In Budapest, the construction of BEM Center office building and Kimpton Hotel (District 2), as well as Phase 2 of Corvin 7 office building (District 8) entered construction phase.
Big numbers in civil engineering
Construction start on the Budapest-Belgrade railway line between Kelebia and Soroksár, and the section of M44 between Kecskemét and Szentkirály brought an outstanding Activity Start indicator for civil engineering. The total value of launched projects went up to an unprecedented HUF 850 billion between January and March 2022; twice the previous record value of Q1 2018. The Activity Start of civil engineering in the first 3 months of 2022 exceeded the full annual value of both 2020 and 2021.
The total value of road and railway construction works within civil engineering was almost HUF 800 billion thanks to these two large-scale projects. It is indeed the highest value of the last decade. But non-road and non-railway civil engineering projects, similarly to the last two quarters of 2021, started in a low value again.
In addition to these two big-volume projects, key civil engineering projects include the Phase 2 of main road 33 (Debrecen).
Like elsewhere in the EECFA countries that are not directly impacted by the war in Ukraine, construction market in Bulgaria entered a period of an increasing unpredictability. What stands behind is an interplay between domestic and external factors.
The Bulgarian construction market entered 2022 with a mixed performance: booming residential construction, stagnating non-residential one and a rather heterogeneous civil engineering. Residential construction benefited from favourable financing conditions and fears for inflation that turned property investments into a safe haven. At the same time, non-residential construction was struggling to recover from the Covid-19 shock. Civil engineering was heavily impacted by the lack of clear future prospects and direction because of the political turmoil in 2021 with three rounds of parliamentary elections, and the absence of new EU funding (Bulgaria’s Recovery and Resilience Plan was approved by the European Commission in April 2022, while the EU’s Operational Programmes are still not finalized).
The war in Ukraine, however, increased the level of uncertainty throughout the entire construction market. Building material costs and shortage and/or equipment shortage were the fastest growing factors limiting the activity of construction enterprises in February-April 2022. Despite the slow pace, the number of clients with payment delays over the last months was also on the rise. As a result, the overall business climate in the construction sector started to deteriorate rapidly in April (Source: NSI, Business survey in construction).
Simultaneously, the headwind from the pre-war period in the residential segment continues. Compared to Q1 2021, permitted residential buildings increased by 20%, dwellings in them by 8%, and their total built-up area by 14%. However, signs of cooling are in sight: compared to the previous quarter, permitted residential buildings decreased by 3.1%, the number of dwellings in them by 23.4%, as well as their total built-up area by 17.1%. On quarterly basis, started residential buildings in Q1 2022 dropped by 4%, their total built-up area contracted by 10%, although dwellings in them went up by 5% (NSI, building permits issued for construction of new buildings).
Similar trends are to be seen elsewhere. In Q1 2022 permitted administrative buildings decreased both in number (by 45%), and in total built-up area (by 54%) compared to the previous quarter. Issued permits for construction of other types of buildings are less by 8%, and their total built-up area down by 28%. On an annual basis, there is a reduction of issued permits for construction of administrative buildings and their total area, respectively by 35% and 82%. Permits issued for construction of other buildings sank by 4%, as well as their total built-up area by 1.3%. Against the previous quarter, started administrative buildings and their total built-up area shrank by 21% and 51%, respectively. Started other types of buildings also decreased by 6%, as well as their total built-up area by 15%.
What becomes evident from the data above is that the construction market is most likely to keep a high level of volatility triggered by two opposing market forces:
the need for investors to search for shelter from inflation and
the necessity for developers to adjust to market conditions they are not used to (material shortages, constant upward changes in prices of materials and fuels, and labour costs).
In that puzzle, the situation in Ukraine will further affect the sector, surely not in a predictable way and most probably neither in a positive one. However, the government is yet to finally start investments within the Recovery and Resilience Facility in 2022, which, accompanied by unleashing the EU funding from other sources in the years to come, might secure a soft landing for the sector before its potential new take-off when the market regains momentum again.
EECFA (Eastern European Construction Forecasting Association) conducts research on the construction markets of 8 Eastern-European countries, including Bulgaria. The current reports were issued in December 2021 and the next reports will be issued on 27 June 2022. For orders and sample report: eecfa.com
Written by Sergii Zapototskyi – UVECON, EECFA Ukraine
On 24 February, 2022, Russia, with the support of Belarus, started an open military attack on Ukraine. Since the first days of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, civilians, ambulances, orphanages, hospitals and residential areas have come under shelling and airstrikes; a deliberate massive violation of international humanitarian law. As per the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), between the outbreak of hostilities and 2 May, 6469 civilian casualties were recorded (3153 killed and 3316 injured) in Ukraine and the territories controlled by the partially recognized republics of Donbass. Deceased civilians included 226 children, while the wounded comprised 319 children. In Donetsk and Luhansk regions there were 3241 casualties (1,638 killed and 1,603 injured), including 484 casualties (99 killed and 385 injured) on the territory controlled by the self-proclaimed republics. OHCHR believes that civilian casualties are likely to be ‘considerably higher’, though, especially in Mariupol, Popasnaya, Izium and Borodianka where intense fighting has taken place and is continuing.
The invasion has caused a major migration crisis: according to the UN, as of 26 April, 5.32 million refugees left Ukraine, mostly to Poland (2.848 million), Romania (0.764 million), Russia 0.563 million), Hungary (0.476 million), Moldova (0.429 million), Slovakia (0.346 million), and Belarus (0.024 million). As of 21 March, roughly 6.5 million people became internally displaced, mostly women with children and elderly people. According to UNICEF, more than half of the children in Ukraine have become refugees. At present, according to opinion polls, 73% of refugees seek to return home, but if the war drags on, and the scale of destruction caused by the shelling of peaceful cities by Russian troops increases, the vast majority of migrants will simply have nowhere to return.
The 9 most affected regions account for 30% of Ukraine’s GDP. GDP contraction in 2022 is forecasted to range from 10% to 35%-40% (provided that the occupied territories do not increase, and the active phase will last for several months). These figures correspond to a reduction in electricity consumption of around 35% (published by DTEK, the largest private investor in the energy industry in Ukraine). The sources of at least 70% of Ukrainian GDP remain more or less intact. Total losses of the Ukrainian economy (direct and indirect) due to the war range from USD 564 billion to USD 600 billion. Direct documented damage to infrastructure is estimated at USD 88 billion. In the last week of April, direct losses to the Ukrainian economy due to destruction and damage to civilian and military infrastructure grew by USD 3.1 billion.
In total, 535 kindergartens, 866 institutions of secondary and higher education, 231 medical institutions, 173 factories and enterprises, at least 75 administrative buildings, 277 bridges and bridge crossings, 11 military airfields, 11 airports and 2 ports are damaged or destroyed in Ukraine. There is not a single hospital in Luhansk region with no damage and in places of active hostilities there are military doctors and the wounded and seriously ill are evacuated to safe places. Also, as of the end of April, at least 95 religious and 130 other cultural buildings were damaged, destroyed or seized: 47 religious buildings, 9 museums, 28 historical buildings, 3 theaters, 12 monuments, 3 libraries and more.
Damage to export and agriculture
Export of goods from Ukraine is limited as Russian troops blocked Ukrainian ports in the Azov and Black Seas. Road and rail infrastructure can also transport limited volumes of goods due to the mass evacuation of Ukrainians by railway and roadblocks. By sea, Ukraine transported 62% of the total dollar value of goods, while by rail 12% and by road 23%.
Agriculture is a direct victim of the Russian aggression with the fighting often taking place on Ukrainian fields/farms. About 13% of the territory of Ukraine is covered with landmines plotted by Russians. There is a risk of a protracted war in Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions whose share of wheat production is 23%, corn is 3%, barley is 21% and sunflower seeds is 20%.
The main prerequisite for the post-war economic recovery is for Ukraine to receive reliable security guarantees that hostilities will not resume on her territory. In the absence of this, private investment will be reduced to zero, economic activity will be stifled, and security costs will have to be relied on business, raising the cost of economic activity and undermining competitiveness.
Key goals of the post-war economic recovery should be: i) real estates and infrastructure destroyed or damaged in the war should be restored; ii) economic activity should resume swiftly; iii) refugees and internally displaced persons should return and be involved in economic processes; and iv) foundations for a sustainable economic growth should be established.
In the long run, rebuilding and restoring Ukraine will cost at least USD 600 billion, including not only the restoration of infrastructure, but also the development of a new economy and new European institutions. Options for funding might comprise the frozen assets of the Russian Federation and the European and American funds for the restoration of Ukrainian infrastructure. The EU plans to create a solidarity trust fund to finance the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine (similarly to the Covid-19 recovery fund) and finance investments and reforms in agreement with the government of Ukraine. It is not yet clear how much will be provided through grants or loans as the war in Ukraine still rages on, but the EU told ambassadors that the figure would reach hundreds of billions of euros within decades. The Ukrainian diplomacy should focus on obtaining the EU candidate status and then obtaining full membership; so the program of post-war reconstruction should be harmonized with the tasks of EU membership and ensure the inclusion of Ukraine in the European pre-accession training programs.
Written by Dejan Krajinović, Beobuild Core d.o.o., EECFA Serbia
Serbia’s construction market was booming when the economic and geopolitical situation changed, so the complicating circumstances in the world are stifling the potential growth and slowing down the ongoing recovery. Inflationary pressures have exploded with the start of the war in Ukraine and the effects of the current crisis are still unforeseeable.
Although Serbia is not directly involved in the economic war between the EU and Russia, spillover inflation in construction materials and energy will inevitably shake the construction market and its outlooks. At the moment, it is very hard to predict the developments as many political and economic decisions in the coming months will actually decide the exact scenario. Inflation has deep roots in EU monetary policies, and it started long before the war in Ukraine, so there is no simple and easy solution. What tools monetary and fiscal authorities will choose to combat inflation will be a crucial factor, but without trade normalization with Russia, any recovery is hard to imagine.
Worse than a high price is an unstable price, and the continuous increase in building material costs are already causing problems in contracting new projects. Construction companies are updating their contracts to allow flexibility in costs, particularly on projects with long deadlines. In 2021, construction costs rose 8.8% against 2020, with double-digit contribution of construction materials during the second half. This strong negative trend extended with even more steam in 2022, as global commodities reached record prices in decades. The rise in construction material prices reached 17% in Q1 2022, but this is hardly the end. Luckily, until now there has been no shortage of materials on the market, but the disruption in flow of oil and natural gas could halt production and create serious supply problems across Europe. In order to avoid any shocks, the Serbian government has put a cap on oil prices in retail and revises its levels weekly. Furthermore, state tax on gasoline has been lowered to mitigate the pressures.
So far, this crisis hasn’t had a significant impact on construction volumes, but this could be just too early to assess. Uncertainty has exploded, but it appears everyone is still waiting for the conclusion. There have been no project halts or cancellations, on contrary, both permits and volumes are still growing in most segments. The second half of the year will be painting a much clearer picture when all current developments take full effect.
EECFA (Eastern European Construction Forecasting Association) conducts research on the construction markets of 8 Eastern-European countries, including Serbia. The current reports were issued on 6 December 2021 and the next reports will be issued on 27 June 2022. For orders and sample report: eecfa.com
Residential construction seems unrelenting as it entered its 8th year of consecutive growth in 2022. The segment is leading the construction of buildings and the outlook is generally positive. Prices were growing faster than costs, interest rates were at historic lows and demand seemed endless. This environment will certainly change, so residential construction will have to adjust as well. The fact that Serbia has a heated and growing economy is excluding any sharp decline in short term, but mid- and long-term prospects became much dimmer. Following the move of the US Federal Reserve, the Serbian National Bank also started tightening its loose monetary policy by increasing interest rates from 1% to 1.5% in Q1 2022. This is just the first step and further increases are inevitable, so financial conditions will largely change in the coming period, especially the mortgage market and the availability of home loans.
Non-residential construction in Serbia is also standing strong, with some segments cooling off after strong growth cycles. There were some delays during the pandemic, but the realization of planned and ongoing projects continued unabated in 2021. All major segments have been rising in volume, supported by both private and public investments. Still, the latest cycle was already peaking, so some consolidation was expected even without external shocks.
Civil engineering saw record levels in 2021, and we believe another record year is on the horizon in 2022. Key large-scale energy, road and railroad projects in Serbia are already contracted and well underway, so we expect this construction segment to remain a strong contributor in this or next year’s output. On the other hand, prices could affect future contracts and volumes if inflation and stagnation pair up.