EBRD to step up response to challenges in transition economies

By Anthony Williams

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EBRD steps up response to challenges in transition economies at 2015 Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Tbilisi

2015 Annual Meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, sets EBRD priorities for coming years
The EBRD is holding its 2015 Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Tbilisi, Georgia today and tomorrow, seeking a mandate from shareholders to step up its response to persistent challenges in the transition economies that it serves.
The meeting comes against a backdrop of continuing geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty that are holding back the investments needed to raise living standards and prosperity across the societies of the EBRD regions.
The EBRD’s economists will publish new economic forecasts for these countries -- which stretch from central and south eastern Europe, through to the Caucasus and Central Asia and to the southern and eastern Mediterranean.
They will show that a return to growth across the regions as a whole remains elusive and that economic weakness in Russia is continuing to have an impact well beyond that country’s borders.
During the meeting the EBRD’s Governors, the representatives of its 66 shareholders, will consider a strategy for the EBRD regions for the coming years, guided by three overriding priorities designed to help re-energise transition in EBRD countries:
  • Strengthening transition resilience, by supporting policies that improve the investment climate and achieve  greater social cohesion and inclusion 
  • Promoting integration, by supporting investments that strengthen economic, financial and infrastructure links across countries and national borders.
  • Addressing global and regional challenges such as climate change, resource depletion and food security.
 “Our aim is to step up our engagement: to deepen and broaden our response with a greater emphasis on combining financial investment with policy dialogue that supports reform”, said EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti.
This year’s annual meeting comes during a critical period for the global development agenda as the international community gears up to approve the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations General Assembly in September and ahead of crucial climate discussions in Paris in December, the COP 21.
The new development goals are very closely aligned with the EBRD’s own strategic priorities for the coming years.
In the debate about how to achieve the new goals, the EBRD is bringing to bear its expertise in leveraging private sector finance generally and, in particular, its pioneering climate financing mechanisms which are seen as a template for future activity.  
Sir Suma will also report to the Annual Meeting on EBRD activities over the past year, which saw an increase in investments in 2014, despite guidance from shareholders in July that they would, for the time being, approve no new projects in Russia.
The EBRD redeployed its resources to meet strong demand from other countries, such as Turkey, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and also from the southern and eastern Mediterranean, where investments have now topped €2 billion since they began in 2012.
Total investments in 2014 rose to €8.9 billion from a previous €8.5 billion, including for the first time financing for Cyprus which became a temporary recipient country in May last year.  Greece was given temporary recipient status earlier in 2015.
During the Business Forum, being held under the banner of “Investing for Change”, there will be an opportunity to address the very practical responses to transition challenges with top level experts, policy-makers and business representatives.
This is the first time the EBRD has held an Annual Meeting in the Caucasus.  Georgia is a leading reformer in the region and ranks 15th out of total 189 countries surveyed in the World Bank’s Doing Business Survey.
The EBRD has been very active in Georgia – virtually doubling its annual investments in 2014 to over €200 million. The Bank has invested a total of €2.6 billion there over the last 22 years, one of the largest investments per capita in any of its countries of operations.
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