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EU commits €6m to support SMEs in Belarus

Economy 13.09.2017 | 13:04

MINSK, 13 September (BelTA) – The European Union is going to earmark €6 million via the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Belarus. The EU and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) signed a relevant agreement at the Belarusian Economy Ministry on 13 September, BelTA has learned.

The deal was sealed following a meeting between Belarusian Economy Minister Vladimir Zinovsky and EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti.

The Belarusian minister underlined the importance of this document for Belarus. It will help boost the competitiveness of SMEs, strengthen their potential, increase their contribution to Belarus' economic growth, create new jobs, and diversify the national economy.

According to Vladimir Zinovsky, the total amount of funds disbursed by the EBRD since Belarus has become an EBRD member is about €2 billion. The country has carried out flagship investment projects with the EBRD's assistance and has put into operation the factories Stadler and Kronospan.

In 2016, the EBRD adopted the Strategy for Belarus for 2016-2019. The document removed restrictions on cooperation with the public sector. Vladimir Zinovsky expressed hope that the sides will start new flagship projects, including those in the public sector, in compliance with the strategy.

The economy minister said that currently some Belarus-EBRD joint projects are underway in the financial sector, housing, and transport infrastructure. For instance, a pilot public-private partnership project to renovate the M10 highway is in the works.

Head of the EU Delegation to Belarus Andrea Wiktorin also stressed the importance of this agreement. “The program to support and consult SMEs in Belarus has been extended for another four years. The EU is known to be the EBRD's largest shareholder. We work in Belarus taking advantage of the bank's expertise and a long track record of cooperation with the country. We support the private sector and promote Belarus' development in general,” she remarked.

For his part, Suma Chakrabarti emphasized effective trilateral cooperation between the EU, the EBRD, and Belarus. The program aims to support small business, which is the backbone of any country's economic development. Development of small business shows Belarus' commitment to economic transformations. We are glad that we keep taking part in it, Suma Chakrabarti added.

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