The Malta Independent 23 September 2019, Monday

Malta committed to playing ‘important role’ with ERBD in development of N. African countries

Monday, 10 June 2019, 15:20 Last update: about 5 months ago

Malta is committed to playing an important role with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the economic development of North African countries.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said that Malta, and indeed the rest of the European Union, has an interest in the development of North African countries.

Scicluna made note of the divergences between the North Mediterranean and the South Mediterranean, wherein countries in the south are seeing high population growth but low income levels, to the point that people are being pushed into risking their lives to leave the country.

He said that the North African region deserves better in its civil society and its youngsters deserve a better future, before adding that Malta can play a very important role in bringing Europe and North African together.

Vice-President of the ERBD Pierre Heilbronn noted that the bank has already invested €7.5 billion in North African countries such as Tunisia and Egypt, and noted that the bank was committed to continue providing a helping hand to these countries so that their economies can develop.

He said that the ERBD would be emphasising on helping these countries attract private sector investment as nine out of ten jobs are provided by this sector, while also aiming to build a solid foundation to provide a better horizon and more opportunities for the youngsters in these countries.

He noted that their work was not limited to major cities; the ERBD also provides aid to those in the most remote areas by setting up basic infrastructure and making it easier for entrepreneurs to tap into financial aid.

Heilbronn said that the leverage skills and experience of companies based in Malta and the rest of Europe were also important, and added that the ERBD will be hosting a business forum for the Mediterranean region in Tunisia on 17 September where he hoped to see Maltese companies who have operations in the South Mediterranean building bridges and seeking more opportunities in the region.

The ERBD, which is based in London, was established in the post-Soviet collapse era with the intention of giving a helping hand to ex-Communist countries. Many of these countries are now European Union members, thanks in no small part to the aid provided by the ERBD.  Malta is a long-standing partner of the bank and was a founding shareholder 28 years ago when it was founded. In 2011, the G7 countries gave the ERBD the mandate to delve into the situation in North Africa, something which the bank is now doing, having invested over €7.5 billion in the region since.

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