The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) responded to the coronavirus pandemic with record investment of €11 billion in 2020 through 411 projects, addressing the urgent needs of the 38 economies, including in the Eastern Neighbourhood region. This represents a 10 per cent increase in annual business investment relative to 2019.
The EBRD was the first international financial institution to adopt emergency measures to address the economic impact of the pandemic in March last year. It focused on supporting existing clients with the provision of short-term liquidity and working capital to protect viable companies and safeguard progress towards sustainable, fair and open market economies in its countries of operations. The bank supported a new record of 2,090 trade finance transactions worth €3.3 billion under its Trade Facilitation Programme. Examples of transactions include the import of medicines from Spain, Turkey and Switzerland into Lebanon, Georgia and Jordan.
The EU, the largest EBRD donor, also provided a €50 million guarantee for renewables investments in Eastern partner-countries.
In the Caucasus, the Bank financed over US$ 400 million worth of investments in the energy sector, including the first renewable project Masrik Solar in Armenia and financing the transmission grid and critical energy infrastructure in Georgia.
In Ukraine, the EBRD combined investment with policy engagement with a €450 million loan to the state road agency Ukravtodor, supporting the government in the development of national road infrastructure and the fight against corruption. The Bank’s public-private partnership (PPP) advisory activities led to the commercial close of two port PPPs at Olvia and Kherson in Ukraine.
In November, the EBRD Board of Directors approved the establishment of the International Chernobyl Cooperation Account at the request of Ukraine. The purpose of the new donor fund is to address remaining challenges at Chernobyl and to sustain the achievements accomplished through the Chernobyl Shelter Fund (New Safe Confinement) and the Nuclear Safety Account (Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility, Liquid Radwaste Treatment Plant).
The coronavirus pandemic also accelerated the shift towards a more digital world and triggered changes in the way that the EBRD provides support to SMEs. The Bank made a rapid adjustment to deliver services aimed at the development of skills for small business owners, employees and consultants, using digital infrastructure. For example, a Ukrainian digital platform Merezha, developed with EBRD help, allows local SMEs instant access to registered experts, case studies and the useful data necessary for their planning and development activity.
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