World Bank ready to extend $150-200 mln for trade, transport projects in W Balkans - CEO

World Bank ready to extend $150-200 mln for trade, transport projects in W Balkans - CEO Conference on Stronger Regional Integration in the Balkans; Source: World Bank

SOFIA (Bulgaria), December 7 (SeeNews) – The World Bank's Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday the lender is ready to extend financing of up to $200 million (127.3 million euro) to support the trade and transport links in the Western Balkans. 

"We are ready to finance a project for trade and transport, which would help the countries in the region to eliminate the existing obstacles, probably in the amount of between $150 million and $200 million," Georgieva said, speaking on Bulgarian public radio broadcaster BNR on the sidelines of a conference on boosting regional integration in the Balkans held in Sofia hosted by Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov.

The World Bank estimates the benefits of the financing to be in the order of $1 billion per year, an important contribution to regional efforts to boost growth and create jobs and opportunities for more people, Georgieva said at the conference, according to a press release issued by the bank. 

The financing will be extended under the Trade and Transport Facilitation Project, designed to streamline border crossings, improve the efficiency of logistics services and deploy modern smart technologies to improve freight and passenger transport and get goods to customers faster, the World Bank said.

The launch of toll systems in the Balkans would allow the countries to spend money on the development of digital and other infrastructure in advance, while in addition to transport corridors, one-desk administration at border crossing points should be launched, Boyko Borisov told BNR. 

The World Bank is already investing to improve transportation connections across the Balkans. It is working to close some of the gaps along Corridors 8 in Macedonia and 10 in Serbia. It is expected that improvements to Corridor 8 will cut travel time for trucks from Sofia to Skopje from 6 hours to three and a half hours, the World Bank said.

($ = 0.848996 euro)


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