EBRD says time ripe for more international investment in Eastern Partnership countries

By Anthony Williams
@ebrdtony

EBRD says time ripe for more international investment in Eastern Partnership countries

(l-r) Prime Minister of Moldova, Ion Chicu, Prime Minister of Belarus, Sergei Roumas, President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti, Prime Minister of Ukraine, Oleksiy Honcharuk, Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, Ali Asadov, Maya Tskitishvili, Vice Prime Minister of Georgia, and EU Commissioner, Johannes Hahn.

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti’s speech

Inaugural summit brought political leaders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine together with investment community and European Union

The Eastern Partnership countries of eastern Europe and the Caucasus are becoming more attractive to foreign investors after rolling out reforms that have increased their economic potential, the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said today.

At a meeting that brought together political leaders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti described the Eastern Partnership countries as “rich in promise for investors”.

At the inaugural EBRD Eastern Partnership Investment Summit at the Bank’s London Headquarters, the EBRD President said: “I want to encourage all the investors and entrepreneurs present here to do as we do, and to make the most of the region’s sizeable potential.”

Representing the countries were the President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, Ali Asadov, the Prime Minister of Belarus, Sergei Roumas, the Prime Minister of Moldova, Ion Chicu, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Oleksiy Honcharuk, and the Vice Prime Minister of Georgia, Maya Tskitishvili.

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn attended the Summit on behalf of the European Union (EU). Commissioner Hahn told the conference: “Today’s Investment Summit is an opportunity to bring all key partners together to promote investment and economic opportunities in the Eastern Partnership region.”

He added: “In the last 10 years, the EU has been investing in the economy, interconnections and, most importantly, in people from across the six countries. Looking ahead at the future of the Eastern Partnership, together we should build on these successes and seize the opportunities that proximity to Europe, green technology and digital transition provide.”

The EU and its member states formed the Eastern Partnership 10 years ago to help the six countries build a stronger and more stable economic, social and political future.

The EBRD works closely with the EU in the region, with a particular focus on supporting small businesses, spurring economic reform, improving infrastructure and municipal services and promoting green energy.

In his opening address, the EBRD President noted that Ukraine was pursuing a wide-ranging reform agenda, with the aim of reinventing itself as a modern, democratic European state. He referred to overhaul of the Moldovan banking sector which was opening up the country to more global investment and noted that Georgia had established a track record for reforms over the last 15 years.

The EBRD President also pointed to resolute steps by Armenia to fight corruption. He said that Azerbaijan was working to diversify its economy away from the oil sector, while Belarus was laying the foundations for privatisation and the commercialisation of its state-owned enterprises and banks.

The main discussion with the political leaders of the Eastern Partnership focused on the role that the state can play in attracting private investment.

A separate panel provided the conference with the “EU perspective and offer to the Eastern Partnership region” while another gave the floor to investors who spoke of their experiences of the investment climate in these countries and outlined further steps that should be taken to increase the flow of investment.

In his speech, the EBRD President urged the Eastern Partnership countries to do even more to promote good governance and the rule of law, to invest more in economic and human capital and to focus on the environment.

This would not only boost economic growth but also encourage the highly educated young people in these countries to invest in their own economies rather than relocate elsewhere, he said.

The EBRD is the largest institutional investor in the Eastern Partnership region and is committed to supporting the development of the private sector and improving the investment climate. Since the start of the Bank’s operations, the EBRD has invested in excess of €26 billion in more than 1,200 projects across the six countries.