India joins The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the first-of-its-kind conference.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) today unveiled plans for a first-of-its-kind conference in India to welcome the country as its newest member.
The inaugural EBRD-FICCI Business Forum in Mumbai on Friday is themed around 'Mobilising private sector finance in the EBRD region and how Indian companies can benefit'.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) partnered event is backed by the Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM) with the aim of bringing together government officials, EBRD experts, and investors and prominent business people to highlight the multilateral bank's efforts to mobilise private sector finance in the economies where it invests, and what the opportunities are for the Indian private sector.
“We are very proud to have India on board as a shareholder. The membership was unanimously approved by our existing shareholders,” said EBRD president Suma Chakrabarti, before he left for India to address the forum.
“India has a very diversified economic base and therefore very diversified companies, which can fulfil investment needs of our countries of operation,” he said.
In the past, EBRD has worked closely with India and in countries like Russia, Turkey, Romania, and Ukraine. Chakrabarti feels that India's membership, which is now its final stages of completion, will open up further investment prospects in markets in Central Asia, Egypt and Jordan.
“These markets are not very well known to Indian companies. The advantage of membership is that Indian companies and the Indian government immediately get free access to all of EBRD's knowledge – political, commercial, market and economic knowledge,” he explained.
London-headquartered EBRD is a multilateral development bank set up in 1991 after the fall of the Berlin Wall to promote private and entrepreneurial initiative in emerging Europe.
It invests in 38 emerging economies across three continents, according to a set of criteria that aim to make its countries more competitive, better governed, greener, more inclusive, more resilient and more integrated.
Its Indian-origin president described India's entry as the bank's 69th member as a personal high point for him, as he nears the end of his second term in office.
He said, “In my term as EBRD president, India – the country of my birth – becoming a shareholder is a high point for me personally".
"Also, it is a very good thing for global governance that India, a leading member of the G20, is now a member of this institution – which is slightly different from the others because of our private sector focus and mandate. It makes us quite special, and having India on board is special as well," he said.
Under Chakrabarti, EBRD had also concluded a joint declaration on the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA) last year. With India now a member, this declaration is expected to get a further boost in terms of mobilising more finance for solar energy and taking forward solar energy policy and reforms.
The Business Forum in Mumbai will include plenary sessions dedicated to discussing investment opportunities and economic prospects for the region for EBRD's operation.
The bank has worked with leading Indian companies, such as Tata, Mahindra, SREI and Jindal, on investments in its regions, with the value of such joint projects worth an estimated 1 billion euros. It now hopes to introduce itself to even more Indian companies to explore newer investment opportunities.
With India now taking a shareholding in EBRD, it is expected that the scope of these joint initiatives will be further enhanced. While India will not be a recipient of EBRD financing, it will benefit from the bank's expertise and support in the region.“We did a mapping exercise which shows that many Indian companies want to go to these countries of operation and need a safe and sound partner, something the EBRD provides,” said Chakrabarti.