The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a member of the World Bank Group, and the Austrian government signed an agreement last October to establish together a new resource to help the Western Balkan countries reach out to European investors. The new facility will be based in Vienna and is set to launch its initiatives in early 2004. This is the first time that a group of the World Bank has selected Vienna to establish itself. It is significant because it reaffirms Vienna's special position as a gateway to Southeastern Europe and a promoter of internationally-recognized expertise on the region.
The new facility will offer technical help to Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro, to make these countries more attractive for foreign investors from Western Europe. The goal is to increase awareness of the region's rich investment potential, encourage investors to make site visits, and ultimately to support current holdings in the region. "The countries of Southeastern Europe are implementing far-reaching reforms to improve their investment climate and reduce the administrative and regulatory barriers that can put off investors," said Tessie San Martin from MIGA. "These improvements have opened up many areas of monetary promise in the region.
The challenge we want to address, in collaboration with the Austrian government, is to communicate these improvements to investors." The initiative will begin as a two and a half - year pilot program, supported by an initial contribution of $900,000 made available by the Austrian government under a grant agreement to MIGA. MIGA will co-finance the initiative with a contribution of approximately $200,000. For more information on the project: www.ipanet.net/EIOP/index.htm