Members of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) attend the EBRD 2019 Annual Meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on May 8, 2019. The EBRD kicked off on Wednesday its 2019 Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Sarajevo. (Xinhua/Nedim Grabovica)
SARAJEVO, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) kicked off on Wednesday its 2019 Annual Meeting and Business Forum here in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
In his address opening the event, Denis Zvizdic, chairman of BiH's Council of Ministers, said that during the two-day meeting, the participating bankers, financial experts and businessmen will talk about the best models for the economic development of BiH and the region of the Western Balkans.
In over 40 sessions, they will exchange valuable experiences with the aim of strengthening economic ties within and outside the region.
Zvidic pointed out that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth, as in the preceding years, exceeded 3 percent in 2018, and that this trend is set to continue in 2019. In addition, he said, the volume of foreign trade reached 32 billion convertible mark (18.3 billion U.S. dollars) for the first time in 2018.
BiH's most important foreign trading partner is the European Union (EU), where the country exports over 73 percent of its products, Zvizdic said.
He highlighted that BiH chalked up a record 800 million convertible marks (457.6 million U.S. dollars) worth of foreign direct investment in 2018, an increase of around 50 percent compared to the previous year, with the trend projected to continue in 2019.
"In all our plans for the future, the EBRD has been, and remains, one of the key supports and factors of the future process of building a stable and economically prosperous BiH," Zvizdic concluded.
In his address, EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti stated that the bank has been present in BiH since the end of 1995 with numerous projects.
The EBRD wants to do more in all its regions, he said. "Integration is one of our priorities. It's a powerful trade expansion tool that encourages the exchange of new ideas and innovations," Chakrabarti said.
According to a press statement issued by BiH's Council of Ministers on Wednesday, the EBRD has cumulatively invested over 2.3 billion euros in BiH in over 160 different projects, of which 82 percent are infrastructure investments. In 2018 alone, the EBRD invested 200 million euros in BiH, a significant increase compared with 130 million euros in 2017.
The EBRD's Annual Meeting is the largest and most significant economic event in the region, bringing together more than 3,000 participants and 82 delegations. (one euro currently equals to 1.12 U.S. dollars)