On 22 November, the inaugural Eastern Partnership (EaP) Investment Summit took place in London, UK. Organised by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the summit brought together political leaders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, along with the investment community and EU leaders.
The event was dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership initiative.
According to the EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti, the countries of eastern Europe and the Caucasus are becoming more attractive to foreign investors after rolling out reforms that have increased their economic potential.
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who attended the summit on behalf of the EU, told the conference participants: “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 EBRD works closely with the EU in the Eastern Partnership 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 also referred to the overhaul of the Moldovan banking sector which has opened up the country to more global investment, and noted that Georgia has 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 about their experiences of the investment climate in these countries and outlined further steps that should be taken to increase the flow of investment.
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