A digest of recent news from the EBRD
- The EBRD’s comprehensive response and recovery measures to support countries cope with the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic was approved by the Board of Directors on Thursday. It increases the amount available to existing clients to €4 billion and sees the EBRD investing up to €21 billion in the years 2020 and 2021, dedicating its operations entirely to the unprecedented challenge.
EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti told Reuters: “Some of these economies have already been hit by lower commodity prices, now they are being hit by the measures to contain the virus, which means value chains have been disrupted, tourism has collapsed.” First Vice President Jurgen Rigterink set out further details in an interview with Euromoney.
2. The EBRD signed its first key investment under its coronavirus response in Morocco with a financing facility of €145 million to Bank of Africa – BMCE Group, comprising a loan and trade finance line to meet the immediate short-term liquidity needs of clients and tackle the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
- An article published by the EBRD on Tuesday examined how to stop the coronavirus pandemic threatening the green economic transition, further developing the theme of “tilting to green” set out by Chief Economist Beata Javorcik. The piece got wide media pickup and was quoted and tweeted. Meanwhile, the EBRD Pocket Dilemmas podcast this week asked another big question: Can open borders survive the pandemic?
- At a virtual EBRD seminar attended by some 300 international policy experts, President Chakrabarti and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for greater international cooperation to deal with the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Brown, a key figure in delivering a global response to the 2008-09 financial crisis, also said that the trend towards austerity was now changing as the international community looked to deal with Covid-19.
Among webinars planned for next week, the Bank’s successful EBRD Green Cities programme will reach out to mayors of the 40 member cities with a discussion on Monday on how they are handling the pandemic.
- EBRD President Chakrabarti continued his series of virtual meetings with government leaders in the countries where we work. He spoke to the prime ministers of Albania, Hungary and North Macedonia as well as the president of Montenegro this week, reaffirming the EBRD’s support for the countries and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The EBRD’s Board of Directors approved a new strategy for Romania which sets out the parameters for the Bank’s work in the country in the coming five years, reflecting also the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. The EBRD also signed a project with the county of Buzau which will improve water and wastewater services for more than 200,000 people.
- EBRD Managing Director Matteo Patrone used an interview with the Kyiv Post newspaper to emphasis the Bank’s commitment to Ukraine and to support the country during and after the current crisis: “The Ukrainian business community and society at large have already shown extraordinary resilience in past crises. We at the EBRD will do our best to support businesses with finance and advice. We are in this together, we will get through this together and we will also get out of this stronger – together.”
- More than 200 participants from all over the world joined a webinar hosted bv the EBRD and IHS Markit, a reseach firm, devoted to a new report analysing the long-term investment outlook for the EBRD regions. Completed before the current crisis, the report finds a strong increase in many countries’ attractiveness thanks to marked improvements in areas such as business environment. While the crisis has massively impacted many of the countries the study also highlight promising long-terms trends.
- EBRD clients have been working to limit the effects of the pandemic:
- In Kyrgyz Republic, Aiko Seiko, which makes protective workwear, has started making medical masks and gowns
- In Jordan, Arabella, a medical products manufactuer, is helping access quality and affordable quality coveralls as demand increases
- In Greece, Tetraform – which usually works thermoforming plastics, digital printing, silk screen printing and constructing refrigeration gaskets - has repurposed production and started producing face shields
- To help medical staff in West Bank and Gaza stay safe during Covid-19, our client Zoom Bags went from producing school bags to medical coveralls.
- In Georgia, the EBRD-supported Investors’ Council met. Catarina Bjorlin Hansen, EBRD Regional Director for the Caucasus, said: "In the current crisis, effective communication between the authorities and businesses is extremely important."
In neighbouring Armenia, the EBRD-funded Business Support Office launched an initiative to help local enterprises by providing free access to webinars for local business on priority topics to deal with the crisis.
- EBRD managing directors in the Western Balkans, SEMED and Turkey have reached out on social media through videos reinforcing EBRD support for their regions.
- Devilspel, a novel by Grigory Kanovich translated from Russian by Yisrael Elliot Cohen, won the EBRD Literature Prize 2020. The international prize, announced online on Wednesday, was created in 2017 by the EBRD, in partnership with the British Council. The €20,000 prize will be split between the author and translator. The news was reported by the Lithuanian news agency ELTA, the author’s home country.