The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) invested $10.2bn in its member countries in 2014, up from $9.7bn in 2013, affirming its flexibility and ability to respond to regional challenges.
Recent notable EBRD policy decisions include doubled investment into Ukraine, a temporary halt in projects in Russia and increased funding to Turkey, Kazakhstan, and the southern and eastern Mediterranean.
These topics were on the table at the EBRD’s 24th annual meeting in Tbilisi in May. The event, hosted by Georgia, was attended by more than 800 international delegates from EBRD’s 64 shareholder countries, and over 1000 business and civil society representatives.
This year’s two-day conference focused on opportunities for investment and growth in transition regions currently faced with instability due to geopolitical turmoil.
The board of governors, which represents the EBRD’s 66 shareholders – 64 countries and two EU institutions – presented its strategy to put transition back on track following the slowdown of reforms in many EBRD countries. The board approved plans to increase support to the bank’s 33 countries, which span from central Asia to north Africa.
It also committed to achieving three main priorities in the coming years: to “strengthen the resilience of the transition process, promote integration, and address the global and regional challenges that face countries in three continents from Mongolia on the Chinese border to Morocco on the Mediterranean,” according to the EBRD official website.
President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said the EBRD would “help ensure that transition stays its course, be a major investor when others hesitate, and support common goals both locally and globally.”
The bank unveiled numerous agreements for loans and projects in the areas of healthcare and energy, expanded support for small businesses, private bank partnerships, and infrastructure development in several private companies across its member countries.
EBRD’s outlook for the economies of central and southern Europe is improving, however, prospects further to the east have deteriorated on the back of Russia’s recession. The bank forecast a worsened economic outlook for the Caucasus due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, as well as a drop in remittances to central Asia to 2009 levels.
Conference leaders commended Georgia on its economic reforms since the country joined the EBRD 22 years ago. Georgia was praised as a “regional leader in reform”, demonstrated by its positive performance on global economic freedom and transparency rankings. While a small country of 3.5 million people with limited natural resources, Georgia has striven to attract FDI by improving its business climate, offering one of the most business-friendly tax regimes in the world.
Georgia has attracted $10.9bn in investment in the past decade and $1.2bn in 2014 alone. Since 1993, it has received nearly $3bn in investment from the EBRD.
The EBRD is a multilateral financial institution founded in 1991 with the aim of building market economies in the eastern bloc countries through investment and economic reform. The EBRD annual meeting presents a forum for key decision-making concerning the bank’s direction, future projects and investments, with a range of discussion panels and country presentations offering investment promotion, debate and networking opportunities.