Greater economic integration in the Western Balkans is key to reforms that can deliver sustained, inclusive growth in the region, EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said.
Addressing shareholders at the Bank’s Annual Meeting in Sarajevo, the President also outlined plans for the EBRD to make an even greater positive impact in the 38 economies where it invests across three continents.
“2019 will … be a pivotal year for the EBRD – the beginning of a further step change that will require both enhancing the quality of what we do while seeking to increase the quantity of our investments and projects across our regions,” Sir Suma said.
He noted the EBRD had invested close to €10 billion a year over the last three years.
“In 2019 I want EBRD to break the €10 billion investment barrier for the first time in our history," he said.
He stressed the importance the EBRD attached to delivering positive change in the Western Balkans and how integration was key to success.
“We see integration as a very powerful instrument for expanding trade in goods and services, increasing cross-border investment and, perhaps most importantly of all, encouraging the exchange of new ideas and innovation."
He referred to Integration via physical infrastructure that connects regions via roads, railways, ports, airports and telecommunications, helping people and goods move more easily.
At the same time integration via investment flows was also a powerful tool, capable of bringing skills to economies suffering from high emigration.
“It can help to end the vicious cycle of outward labour migration leading to falling productivity, lower investment and further emigration,” the President said.