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EBRD brings together Western Balkan leaders and global investors

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  • Western Balkans Investment Summit held at Bank Headquarters in London

  • The six heads of government of the Western Balkans addressed international investors

  • Odile Renaud-Basso, Charles Michel and Olivér Várhelyi make opening statements

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) yesterday welcomed the heads of government of Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia And Serbia at its Western Balkans Investment Summit 2024, held at its headquarters in London.

The event brought together six Western Balkan prime ministers and international investors with the aim of highlighting potential investment and business opportunities in the region and promoting cross-border regional projects.

The opening speeches and interactive session with the Prime Ministers can be viewed on the EBRD website, LinkedIn And Youtube. Photographs of the event are available on Flickr.

The event was opened by The President of the EBRD, Odile Renaud-BassoWHO in his acclaimed speech progress made in the region over the past decade, but warned of the need to accelerate convergence with EU living standards. “As the largest (international financial institution) in the region, we have invested more than 18 billion euros there – and a record amount of 1.63 billion euros last year,” she said. said, adding that the Bank intends to continue to intensify its activities in Western countries. Balkans “to help countries implement their reforms and investments, particularly in the areas of green transition, skills and digitalization”.

European Council President Charles Michel said: “In the EU, we sincerely appreciate the work of the EBRD in your region to support the real economy and advance reforms, as well as your role in promoting regional integration and cooperation. »

The European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, added that the EU was counting on its Western Balkan partners “to demonstrate strong political commitment and (…) to implement the essential reforms needed . In this work, our cooperation with the EBRD and other IFIs is essential.

In their speeches and responses to investors’ questions, government leaders (in alphabetical order using the Gymnich formula) discussed the key strengths of their economies and why international investors should visit them.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić spoke of her country’s robust economic growth figures and the dynamism of the ICT and services sector. She also highlighted the strength of its workforce and increased investment, not only in education but also in infrastructure, such as railways, roads and renewable energy.

President of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Borjana Krišto highlighted her country’s openness for business and the improvement of its business environment thanks to reforms, favorable legislation and low taxes. She also highlighted the country’s industrial tradition, natural resources and educated workforce.

For Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, the combination of recent economic development, democratic progress and institutional stability makes his country an attractive destination for investment. He also highlighted the country’s strong growth figures and improvements in the rule of law.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama highlighted his country’s transformation into a safe and attractive tourist destination. He also explained that all of the country’s energy comes from renewables, but stressed the need to add solar and wind power to its hydroelectric energy capacity.

Milojko Spajić from Montenegro highlighted his country’s membership in NATO, the use of the euro as its national currency, as well as the country’s low debt-to-GDP ratio and low budget deficits. He also discussed the country’s plans to boost its connectivity through new railways, roads, airports and a deep-water port.

For Talat Xhaferi, Prime Minister of North Macedonia, the country’s main attraction for investors is its geographical location, close to European centers and offering convenient access to the region’s main ports. Mr. Xhaferi also spoke about the country’s fiscal policy stimulus and non-discriminatory approach towards foreign investors, whom he called “our investors.”

On the sidelines of the summit, the EBRD President held bilateral meetings with each of the participating Prime Ministers to take stock of the Bank’s activities in their respective countries and discuss new projects.

Before the summit opened, the British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Lord Cameron, visited the EBRD to greet the Prime Ministers and the EBRD President.

This was the EBRD’s sixth such summit. The inauguration Western Balkans Summit took place at the EBRD 10 years ago, in February 2014, and brought together for the first time all the heads of government in the region.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who called himself a “veteran” for having participated in the six Western Balkans summits at the EBRD, highlighted their importance not only in promoting the region as an investment destination, but also in strengthen regional stability, highlighting tangible progress in regional cooperation since 2014.

The Western Balkans are a priority region for the EBRD. Today, the Bank remains one of the largest institutional investors there with more than 18 billion euros invested to date.

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