Multilateral development banks (MDBs) including the EBRD aim to mobilise private sector investment and contribute to sustainable development. This is aligned with some of the stated objectives of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (一带一路).
The EBRD is already deeply engaged in many of the economies along the Belt and Road corridors where the infrastructure needed to support more robust, sustainable growth remains underdeveloped.
Many of these countries have strengthened their trade and investment links with China, in the context of the BRI.
The EBRD’s 2018 Central Asia Investment Forum in Beijing opened with a striking video highlighting how much the region has to offer investors – and how different it is from the popular imagination.
With its unique business model that combines financial investment with strong support for policy reform, the EBRD can ensure that its engagement delivers high-quality projects with long-term economic benefits.
It can also mitigate risks to its clients and to the economies where it invests. Such risks include unsustainable debt and poorly governed investments.
EBRD priorities include open markets and economic transition and the promotion of the highest environmental, social and compliance standards in projects.
Preserving and improving the environment are central features of a modern, well-functioning market economy and key goals of the transition process that the EBRD was set up to promote.
With the right policies and safeguards in place, the BRI has the potential to further these priorities and help countries along the route towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the international community has pledged to achieve by 2030.
The EBRD’s strong focus on the private sector also means that it can galvanise the finance and skills that are essential if the region’s infrastructure needs are to be met.
This includes fostering the right political, economic and policy context for foreign investors and improving the quality of both state and private sector institutions.
Through policy reform, the EBRD aims to help facilitate trade and investment activities to ensure lower non-tariff barriers, transparency of technical measures and the freer flow of labour – all key to creating a healthy business environment in the region.
Measures include: simplifying customs clearance systems and quarantine processes; improving market access and eliminating trade barriers; simplifying foreign investment procedures; and creating more free trade zones.
Finally, the EBRD can play a key role in encouraging closer collaboration with civil society and the private sector to improve the business environment and ensure economic development that is both sustainable and inclusive.