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EBRD continues to invest close to record levels in challenging year

By Anthony Williams

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We delivered strong results across the 36 countries where we invest

In 2016, the year of its 25th anniversary, the EBRD delivered strong results across the 36 countries where it invests and also took steps to prepare them for future challenges. Investments this year will be close to the 2015 record.

Since it was founded in 1991 to foster the development of open-market economies, initially in the former communist bloc, the EBRD has financed over 4,500 projects worth a total of more than €110 billion. The Bank has helped to develop private firms, strengthen financial systems, modernise infrastructure and promote energy efficiency and security.

As the year drew to a close, the EBRD celebrated the culmination of many years of effort when a monumental arch was finally manoeuvred into position over the deadly radioactive remains of the reactor destroyed at Ukraine’s nuclear power plant in Chernobyl 30 years ago.

The EBRD, the single largest donor to this project, has managed funding from the international community for this venture, one of the most ambitious in engineering history.

Also in Ukraine the Bank supported the nationalisation of PrivatBank in late December as a necessary step to protect the bank’s depositors. EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said: “The long-term stability of PrivatBank, the largest bank in Ukraine, is crucial to the country’s economic health. We believe the decision to nationalise it is the right one and have offered our expertise to the authorities whenever it is needed.”

We delivered strong results across the countries where we invest. This is our year in pictures.

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This year, the EBRD maintained a high level of financing in the face of difficult economic conditions and persistent geopolitical volatility. The strong investments went hand in hand with efforts to make the organisation as effective and efficient as possible.

The Bank’s updated transition concept was unveiled in October and seeks to make our regions competitive, inclusive, well-governed, green, resilient and integrated, equipping them for the challenges of the 21st century.

During a period of political uncertainty this year, the EBRD reinforced its support for the economic integration that has played such an important role in underpinning development across the Bank’s regions.

Sir Suma, who was re-elected for another four-year term in May, made clear that even though globalisation was being perceived as a source of social and economic discontent this was not the time for protectionism or nationalism.

He argued that the world needed better globalisation, not less globalisation; the world’s economies should adapt their approach to boost inclusion and fight inequality, themes that dominate the EBRD Transition Report 2016-17, “Transition for All: Equal Opportunities in an Unequal World”.

That report analyses the reasons for real or perceived social and economic inequality and suggests how governments could promote greater fairness, which in turn would help deliver long-term reforms and sustained economic growth.

The Bank also published the latest in its Life in Transition Surveys (LiTS), a unique assessment and analysis of people’s attitudes and beliefs.

The largest survey of its kind, the new LiTS sought the opinions of 51,000 households in 34 countries, revealing growing levels of life satisfaction, but continuing concerns about inequality and corruption. It assesses the relative levels of education of men and women and how these are reflected in opportunities on labour markets and in the business world.

A section dedicated entirely to Greece illustrates just how badly the people of that country were affected by its economic crisis. LiTS shows the various ways they coped with the crisis and provides an insight into their expectations for the future.

In addition to the Transition Report and LiTS survey, the EBRD also launched a series of podcasts called “Pocket Economics” where leading economists, including newly appointed EBRD Chief Economist Sergei Guriev, discuss the ideas that shape key development issues in the EBRD regions and beyond.

At the start of this year, the EBRD unveiled a series of steps to increase the flow of investment funding into the EBRD regions by strengthening links with existing partners or building links with new ones. In January, China became the 67th EBRD shareholder, with a view to drawing in Chinese companies to EBRD projects.

The EBRD also teamed up with the new Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on projects in Central Asia that are expected to be just the start of a series of investments along the “Silk Roads” that link Asia with Europe.

In addition, the EBRD opened a Representative Office in Washington, D.C. in order to reach out more effectively to companies in Canada, the United States of America and Mexico. In March, it opened one in Tokyo to develop even stronger ties with Japanese corporations.

In the countries where we invest, the EBRD also opened new offices: in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, Shymkent in Kazakhstan and Sfax in Tunisia, continuing the drive to ensure that the EBRD reaches out across entire countries and does not focus only on national capitals or the largest cities.  

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