Varel Freeman, the First Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has just concluded a visit to Jordan where he looked ahead to the Bank’s first two investments in the Kingdom.
The EBRD was created in 1991 to support the transition to a market economy in the former communist countries of central and eastern Europe. In response to the recent political changes in the Middle East and North Africa it has expanded its remit to cover the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region.
Speaking in Amman, Mr Freeman said the EBRD’s Board of Directors would shortly be asked to review the Bank’s first investment in Jordan; a US$ 30 million trade finance facility to InvestBank to facilitate the export and import transactions of its commercial clients.
Shareholders will later be asked to consider a US$ 100 million investment in a power plant near Amman to help boost energy capacity in the country.
Accompanied by the Managing Director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean, Hildegard Gacek, and other bankers responsible for the region, the First Vice President held discussions with senior government officials and heard about investment priorities for the country.
Mr Freeman also met representatives from the business community, both in the capital Amman and in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, and discussed potential future investments. He participated as a speaker in the EU-Jordan Association Committee meeting.
The EBRD will focus on the development of the private sector, fostering the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, helping to improve municipal services, developing stable financial sectors and improving energy supplies. “Investing in the private sector, supporting the growth of small businesses and helping to create jobs is at the heart of our investment strategy for Jordan and the region,” Mr Freeman said.
Investments in the SEMED region, which covers Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, could be running at as much as €2.5 billion a year by 2015.
The expansion into the SEMED region follows calls for EBRD support from the international community and from countries in the region itself.