ArmInfo. Armenia's Central Bank and European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a 50 mln EUR loan agreement on assisting small and medium- sized businesses by providing loans in national currency and on affordable terms to small and medium-sized businesses, Vice President of the EIB Jan Vapaavuori stated on November 18 at the seminar for SMEs. He added that within the loan agreements beside financial funds the participants of the program will receive technical support. Jan Vapaavuori expressed readiness for consistent cooperation with Armenia.
Answering to ArmInfo's correspondent's question Jan Vapaavuori noted that the loans will be provided to small and medium-sized enterprises with no more than 250 employees operating in all the fields of economy. Jan Vapaavuori could not tell the amount of the interest rates of the loans saying that they will be set by financial intermediaries-banks as a result of negotiations with SMEs, however he said that the rates will be reasonable. According to him much work is needed to improve the conditions for SMEs in the country. Armenia is one of those countries where economy is supported only by several huge players or sectors. However, special attention should be paid to SME sector, development of which will lead to diversification of the country's economy, he stressed.
Deputy Chairman of Central Bank Nerses Yeritsyan for his part mentioned that cooperation with the EIB will allow to facilitate SMEs access to financial sources, which will lead to establishment of new job places and diversification of economy. Referring to the previous loan agreement signed in 2014 with EIB Yeritsyan informed that all the loan funds (50 mln EUR) were fully invested in 100 projects for SMEs, particularly in the fields of tourism and agriculture. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union's nonprofit long- term lending institution established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome. As the "Bank of the European Union", the EIB's mission is to make a difference to the future of Europe and its partners by supporting sound investments which further EU policy goals. Although about 90 percent of projects financed by the EIB are based in EU member countries, the bank does fund projects in about 150 other countries.