EBRD gets behind West Balkan economic integration

News | 12 July 2017

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has thrown its weight behind greater economic integration between West Balkan nations at the Trieste Summit.

The development bank has supported transport and energy projects within the region before but is now promoting a “soft connectivity agenda”, with the goal of forging “links between markets, strengthening commercial ties and improving the business climate”.

Pierre Heilbronn, EBRD vice president for policy and partnerships said, “The further economic integration of the Western Balkans is crucial to the economic development of the region as it continues to gear up for closer ties with the EU.”

EBRD is working on a Memorandum of Understanding with Bosnia and Herzegovina “on cooperation to strengthen the business environment after sealing similar accords to improve the investment climate with Albania and Serbia, and to develop the private sector in Kosovo”.

The bank is also promoting a path of economic reforms across the region which will be important to forming closer ties with larger trading blocks, such as the EU.

Speaking on a panel on SME financial instruments, Heilbronn also said more needed to be done to support the growth of SMEs in the region.

Heilbronn said finding mechanisms that improve SMEs financial management and corporate governance processes are crucial to making them creditworthy bank customers. 

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