By Gokhan Kurtaran
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) aims to have a “very strong investment” in Turkey this year, according to Suma Chakrabarti, the bank’s president.
“I think we will have a very strong investment in Turkey, around €1.5 plus-billion of investment I think,” Chakrabarti told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, ahead of his two-day visit to Turkey on Jan. 18-19.
Pointing to Turkey’s importance for bank’s future projects, he added: “Turkey is our largest market. If you take the last three years put together in Turkey, we have invested €5.4 billion over the three years. This is a massive amount of investment. Even last year, which was the lowest of the years, there was €1.5 billion for 51 projects in a vast variety of sectors as well. So it is very, very important for us in terms of overall size and in terms of overall share of the portfolio.”
Highlighting that the bank’s investments are driven by private sector demand, making it hard to predict the total volume of investments in Turkey, he added: “I would be surprised if we weren’t looking at a €1.5 billion-plus investment in euro terms this year.”
He also said that his visit will mark the establishment of an EBRD-Turkey donor fund as the country becomes an ERBD benefactor, in addition to a founding shareholder and the bank’s largest country of operations by investment volume.
He said, “One of the most fundamental objectives is the sign this new technical cooperation fund that Turkey is putting together. €25 million for four countries: Turkey, Romania, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan. That is going to be enormously important for our project for those countries. I am very, very grateful to the Turkish government for that.”
Praising Turkey’s recent economic growth performance, Chakrabarti said: “I’m someone who is really optimistic about Turkey. Look at Turkey in the last decade-and-a-half. What really happened in the last 15 years has been a takeoff. If you look at first the three quarters of last year alone, the growth is very, very impressive indeed.”
Pointing to Ankara’s stimulus playing a role in strong economic growth as well, he added: “I think the private sector has done its bit too. I am very proud of the ERBD, 97 percent of our investments have been in the private sector. Very much trying to get the private sector working. I think the prospects for the future are pretty good. The numbers are very good.”
Saying that the bank’s projects in Turkey have played a significant role in implementing them elsewhere, he explained: “Turkey for us is a place for where we have innovated an enormous amount. Some of the things that we have tried in Turkey first, we have been able to take those ideas and innovations to other countries. One of my favorite happens to be the women in a business program for female entrepreneurs in Turkey.
“It really took off in Turkey. We helped through the local banks for that to change [getting access to funds]. That approach now has been taken up in 16 other countries, and it started in Turkey.”
On Turkey’s aim to transform Istanbul into a regional and international finance hub, he said: “Istanbul and Turkey have all the ingredients to really transform itself into a financial hub. There is no doubt about that. For that, Borsa Istanbul [stock exchange] has to be the catalyst it quite clearly can be. I absolutely believe that Istanbul can be and should be the center of that financial hub for the region.”
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