VW scandal spells danger for these economies

Christophe Morin | Bloomberg via Getty Images
Christophe Morin | Bloomberg via Getty Images

The fallout from the emissions scandal still simmering in northwest Germany has engulfed policymakers, regulators and some of the largest automakers in the world.

However, analysts are warning that it could also hamper growth in an emerging part of Europe that is already dealing with the prospect of a slowing Chinese economy.

Data from statistics agency Eurostat indicate how exposed countries like the Czech Republic are to the autos sector. The carmaking industry contributes more than 4 percent to the country's gross domestic product and that's not taking into account indirect contributions that the auto companies add.

Countries like Slovakia and Hungary are also highly tuned into the sector with a sizeable proportions of the total workforce working on car manufacturing.

"For the small and export-oriented economies of central Europe which rely heavily on the car manufacturing industry, the Volkswagen scandal is a major threat to growth," Nicholas Spiro, head of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, told CNBC via email.

Billions of euros have been wiped off Volkswagen's value following the revelation last month that the company had used software to change its diesel engines' performance under U.S. test conditions.

Volkswagen produces engines in Hungary and owns the biggest Czech carmaker Skoda. Skoda said last week that 1.2 million of its vehicles had the engine that manipulated emissions data and nations are starting to ban sales of cars with the technology. However, local media report that Skoda has not registered any deviations in the production, sales or orders of its models.

Pre-owned Volkswagen vehicles on sale at a dealership in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, on Sept. 29, 2015.
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Speaking last week to CNBC, Luis Costa, head of CEEMEA FX and rates strategy at Citi, said that the whole auto sector "has been massively affected."

"I wonder what that means for the whole sector and in terms of net exports dynamics out of eastern Europe. Eastern Europe being Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania. These are absolutely important centers of growth, net exporters to western Europe," he said.

"It's difficult to quantity but let's see how widespread this crisis is."

Despite the concern, the Czech Republic could be nicely buffered by some surprisingly good growth in the country this year. The Czech economy accelerated by 4.4 percent in second quarter and is currently the best performing country in Europe.

Spiro told CNBC that domestic demand, and in particular private consumption, has been growing at a relatively brisk pace this year which should help offset the damage to the country's export industry.

"Extremely loose monetary policy and low oil prices should also help underpin growth," he said.

The euro has edged higher against the Czech crown since the scandal first emerged in mid-September with one euro now worth around 27.1606 crowns.