The Republic of Belarus and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are starting a new era of cooperation by signing the first ever loans provided by the EU bank in this country. The loans include €75 million to two local banks to support SME finance in Belarus.
Another €84 million loan will finance the upgrading of wastewater services in the capital Minsk.
The EIB loans to small businesses, intermediated through Belagroprombank (€50 million) and Belarusbank (€25 million), will facilitate investment projects and help to meet the working capital needs of private sector companies in Belarus. This will contribute to the strengthening of the private sector and economic diversification that is particularly important in Belarus, where large state-owned enterprises still dominate the national economy.
Both banks have a profound knowledge of the Belarusian market and have substantial plans to expand their lending to smaller businesses. It is estimated that some 200 SMEs will benefit from this financing, which should help to sustain over 2,500 jobs.
The loan signatures took place on the occasion of the first visit of EIB Vice-President Alexander Stubb to Belarus since the entry into force of the Framework Agreement between the Republic of Belarus and EIB in August 2017.
EIB Vice-President Alexander Stubb commented: “Today is a significant day for the European Union and the Republic of Belarus: we are welcoming Belarus to the family of Eastern Partnership countries receiving support from the EU bank. Our operations are contributing to the country’s economic development, deepening the cooperation with the European Union and improving the living conditions of Belarusian citizens. The projects signed are good examples of this: they help to improve the environment and strengthen the competitiveness of the private sector companies that are the engine of sustainable growth and job creation.”
Head of EU Delegation in Belarus Andrea Wiktorin stated: "Today's event is a significant development in the relations between the EU and Belarus. The EU has not only increased the overall amount of assistance, but also widened the spectrum of available instruments for joint cooperation. This concerns both policy action and sound investments into sustainable infrastructure and private sector development. Belarus will as of now benefit from European Investment Bank lending for the benefit of its citizens and the environment."
Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Rumas said: "Belarus is counting on the implementation of landmark projects with the European Investment Bank. I am confident that 2019 will be extremely fruitful for cooperation between Belarus and the European Investment Bank and that the necessary foundations will be laid for establishing trusting partnerships.”
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union's bank. As the world’s largest multilateral borrower and lender by volume, the EIB provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects that contribute to furthering EU policy objectives.
In supporting SME finance, the EIB is supporting the objectives of the European Union’s EU4Business initiative that helps SMEs in Belarus and the other Eastern Partner countries to finance their development and boost economic growth.