EBRD SIGNS DEALS WORTH $55 MILLION DURING ANNUAL MEETING
The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) signed four deals in banking, broadcasting, healthcare and waste management during its annual meeting in Tbilisi on May 13-15. Investor.ge's Lika Zhorzholiani spoke with EBRD Director for The Caucasus, Moldova & Belarus, Bruno Balvanera.
$55 Million in New Agreements, Two New Councils
The EBRD-Georgia meeting included $55 million in agreements and two very important initiatives -the Investors Council and Women in Business, Bruno Balvanera told Investor.ge. The deals will impact a number of sectors: a $31.5 million package of loans, including support for SMEs, energy efficiency and trade finance, was signed with Basis Bank; a sovereign loan of €7 million will be provided to introduce a modern solid-waste management system in the southern region of Kvemo Kartli; a $10.9 million loan to Aversi Pharma, LLC will be provided to support plans for local hospitals and the improvement of pharmaceutical supplies; and, together with the EU, a €1.9 million loan will be provided to local broadcast operator Stereo+ Ltd to help switch from analog to digital broadcasting.
"The EBRD is very keen also to broaden the impact of its investments and support into more rural regions and support the recent development of tourism," he said.
"We have a very strong pipeline of investment projects, and we remain committed to further developing Georgia's economy. You just need to watch this space."
On the Map for Global investors
The EBRD annual meeting and business forum in Tbilisi brought together more than 2,000 EBRD employees, investors and businesspeople from over 60 countries.
The meeting also helped "put Georgia on the map of global investors," Balvanera said.
"It provided an excellent opportunity for participants to gain further insight into the economic climate of the region, especially with regard to investment opportunities in Georgia. It provided a fruitful opportunity for the participants to discuss important economic and investment issues affecting the EBRD's region of operations," he said.
That is important for Georgia, especially today, when foreign trade, investments and tourism are all down — a trend that helped push the EBRD to downgrade its expectations for the country's economic growth in 2015 from its initial prediction of 4.2 percent to just 2.5 percent.
"Over the past 22 years, we have invested over 2.3 billion euros in more than 176 individual projects in Georgia," Balvanera noted.
"Throughout these years, the EBRD has been a critical partner for the development of the banking sector, infrastructure, and renewable energy, SMEs (including property and tourism) as well as the agribusiness sector," he said.
"The Bank is very keen to encourage and support Georgia on its path toward the EU, while helping the SMEs to develop further to comply with the DCFTA requirements."
In particular, Balvanera said, the EBRD recognized Georgia's "particular competitive advantage" and "supports the country's capacity and aspiration of becoming a regional hub."
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