New country strategy will also focus on competitiveness and integration of country’s economy
Using sustainable tourism as a lever for SME development and investment in related industries – such as agribusiness and sustainable municipal infrastructure – are the focal points. The strategy also highlights the good progress of Montenegro in the EU approximation process.
The Bank will focus on the following three priorities under the new strategy: making the economy more competitive, integrated and green.
The EBRD will work with the private sector to help it become more competitive including developing agribusiness value chains and backward linkages in the tourism sector. Connectivity and regional integration will be improved by expanding cross-border transport and energy links, in line with the Connectivity Agenda for the Western Balkans. And the green economy in Montenegro – which marks 25 years since proclaiming itself a “green state” – will be supported via sustainable tourism among other things.
Holger Muent, EBRD Director for Western Balkans, said: “Montenegro is our success story in several ways. First of all, the country is a regional leader in reforms and in the EU approximation process. It has also attracted the most EBRD financing per citizen in our entire region. Lastly, Montenegro is at the forefront of regional efforts to move to a smart, green energy sector.”
Montenegro hosts the Coordinated Auction Office in south-eastern Europe (SEE) which is key for the efficient use of electricity; it has laid a high-voltage cable to Italy, and is building one of the first wind farms in Western Balkans, Krnovo, all with EBRD financing.
Leveraging the country’s comparative advantages, the EBRD will work to develop agribusiness value chains, providing both investment and advice, to help Montenegro produce more local food for the tourism industry and decrease imports. Tourism – which is the main export product and growth driver in the country – is a big focus of the strategy which lists the following areas of potential EBRD engagement: “Upgrading the existing hotels stock through privatisation, addressing the seasonality issue by promoting development of congress tourism and health tourism facilities, and modernisation of related municipal and environmental infrastructure.”
In Montenegro, the EBRD has invested over €512 million to date. The current portfolio is about €350 million, almost half of which is in energy.