Mr. Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Mr Dario Scannapieco
Chairman of Fransabank, Mr Adnan Kassar
Representatives from the banking sector,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to be among you today for the signature of an important Agreement between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Fransabank.
This signature once again shows us that the various EU institutions are joining efforts to support private sector development in the MENA region, including Lebanon, and create better conditions for economic growth.
This week, EIB – which is the lending institution of the European Union - is here to sign the 'Lebanon Private Sector Support' project, a line of credit amounting to €265 million in order to support Lebanese small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to have better access to finance. The project will be implemented by four Lebanese banks, each with a dedicated loan amount, including Fransabank with which we have a long-standing cooperation.
The development of SMEs is absolutely crucial in the quest to create jobs, both in Lebanon as well as in the rest of the region. The past years have seen profound changes in this region. These have been accompanied by economic challenges. But one thing has not changed: trade, investment and a vibrant private sector remain key issues for stability, growth and job creation.
From the EU side, we are putting more and more effort into supporting SMEs, trade, entrepreneurship and an innovative private sector in Lebanon. Various EU programs complete each other in this area of support: in addition to 'access to finance', the EU launched last year a Private Sector Development programme of €15 million to help Lebanon in boosting its competitiveness in the furniture and agriculture sectors, with the ultimate objective to increase the quality of products.
This EU support to the private sector is even more relevant now. After years of growth and positive outlook, we find today that many Lebanese companies struggle in their daily business because of the difficult situation in the country and the region. Our support is there to make a difference. More importantly, it is there to give a push to those companies and individuals that can reinvigorate the economy in Lebanon and inject much needed dynamism.
Let me end by thanking again EIB, the partner banks, Fransabank for the continued efforts to strengthen the cooperation between the European Union and Lebanon.