September 26, 2022

Tag: AlternativeEnergy

edu, Miscellaneous

East Asia and the Pacific: Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong

On February 2, Counselor Tom Shannon and Senior Advisor to the Secretary Ambassador David Thorne led a U.S. delegation to the Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong in Pakse, Laos. The Friends of the Lower Mekong, a donor coordination group, came together with the countries of the Lower Mekong to discuss the connection between water resources, energy needs and food security. Accompanying Counselor Shannon and Ambassador Thorne were representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy.

The health of the Mekong River is essential to the economic growth and sustainable development of the region. In Cambodia, the Mekong supports the rich biodiversity of a watershed that provides more than 60% of the protein intake for the entire country. The river irrigates the “rice bowl” in Vietnam, where more than half of the nation’s rice production is concentrated in the provinces that make up the Mekong delta. In Laos, Thailand, and Burma, the Mekong is an important artery for transportation, a water source for aquaculture and agriculture, and a generator of electricity.

Meeting participants discussed the challenges of ensuring a future in which economic growth does not come at the expense of clean air, clean water and healthy ecosystems. The meeting brought together senior officials from Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam alongside representatives from the United States, the Mekong River Commission, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the European Union, and the governments of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

At the meeting, the U.S. delegation announced several new initiatives, including the launch of USAID’s Sustainable Mekong Energy Initiative (SMEI). Through the SMEI, the United Stateswill promote the use of alternative energy and low-emission technologies. The delegation also announced that the Department of State will organize and send a Sustainable Energy Business Delegation to the region later this year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will provide technical assistance on hydropower management. In conjunction, Counselor Shannon and Ambassador Thorne announced that the State Department will contribute $500,000 in support of a Mekong River study on the impacts of hydropower on the community and environment.

The Friends of the Lower Mekong will also work together to strengthen the capacity of Lower Mekong countries to more effectively implement social and environmental safeguards such as environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental analyses. The U.S. government, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the Government of Australia plan to jointly develop a Regional Impact Assessment Training Center at the Asian Institute of Technology Center in Vietnam.

Under the auspices of the Lower Mekong Initiative the United States is continuing successful projects like Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong (SIM) to provide technical assistance to the region on land and water use management, renewable energy, and infrastructure development. $1.5 million will be spent on SIM projects in the Mekong region this year.

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Miscellaneous

East Asia and the Pacific: Roundtable With Cambodian Media

MODERATOR: It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Assistant Secretary Danny Russel from the State Department Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. He’ll make a few brief remarks and then he’s here to take your questions. As a reminder, this is an “on the record” interview.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thank you Jay. All set? Great. Well thank you all very much for coming. I’m here in Phnom Penh again. I have visited in the past including with President Obama and the former Secretary of State, but I’m here in Phnom Penh as part of a swing through Southeast Asia for consultations with the government, with political parties, with civil society, and with our Embassy team.

One of the reasons that I’m here is because we care deeply about the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Cambodia. It’s a relationship we’re committed to and it’s a relationship in which we are investing time and effort. As part of the Administration’s Rebalance strategy that puts a strategic priority on the Asia Pacific region, we are deepening our cooperation with all of the countries of ASEAN and we are preparing for the twenty fifteen ASEAN economic community as well. So I came to discuss both bilateral issues, regional ASEAN related issues, but also global challenges that face both Cambodia and the United States.

I began this morning with a meeting with the Acting Foreign Minister Ouch Borith. I explained to him why I was here and the goal of continued engagement with the Cambodian government. I noted some progress on the political front in Cambodia in terms of the agreements between the two major parties, but I also emphasized the importance of meaningful and sustained reform in the political sphere, in the economic arena, in terms of governance and in Cambodian society. I raised with him our concerns about land related issues included the BKL case. We talked about corruption and I conveyed the U.S. views that improvement in governance in Cambodia and the strengthening of Cambodia’s institutions is critical in achieving the goal of long term stability, and I explained that long term stability and growth in Cambodia is very much in the best interest of the United States. I made clear that the United States seeks to support progress in reforms in order to strengthen Cambodian institutions for that purpose. We talked about Cambodia’s competitiveness in economic terms and discussed some of the programs that the United States is supporting to create jobs, to promote growth, and also to protect public health and the environment in Cambodia and in the broader Mekong area.

I went then to CICP and made some remarks and took questions from a very diverse audience. I had a lunch meeting with representatives of civil society in Cambodia that included representatives of Cambodian NGOs as well as international non-governmental organizations as well who are involved in supporting reform efforts in the country. I of course was able to consult in some depth with our very talented Embassy team including my friend Ambassador Todd, who is a friend of Cambodia and has been doing great work here. I also had a chance to talk to the employees of the Embassy, including the Cambodian employees, to convey from Secretary Kerry our deep appreciation of the good work that they do.

This evening I will be meeting with senior representatives of the opposition CNRP party. I was scheduled to meet also with Prime Minister Hun Sen this afternoon, although last night we received word that his schedule had changed and he was detained in Singapore, so I won’t have a meeting with him in this trip and then I leave tonight. So that’s a quick overview of my schedule and some of the elements of the meeting I had with the Acting Foreign Minister and with that I’m happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: You met with the government officials. Can you tell us any promise or pledge to Cambodia? I mean, maybe in investment or in the aid that you pledge to Cambodia’s officials.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: My pledge to the Cambodian officials was that the United States is committed to working with them, with civil society, and with the people of Cambodia to advance the cause of reform and universal values such as human rights. I explained to them that the U.S. strategy in the Asia Pacific region is based both on strong bilateral ties and our support for ASEAN; that includes support for the broad ASEAN agenda but particularly for the development of ASEAN as a unified institution.

QUESTION: Because we see that now Cambodia is doing reforms on the national elections committee, doing reform on the Parliament, and they are not trying to fight against the corruption. Is there any, like promise on that issue, that U.S. will support, even financial support or other support?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, the United States government – and very importantly, U.S. NGOs and private sector – have numerous programs in support of the reform and democratization process in Cambodia. One of the points that I made to the government and to the Cambodian audiences today is that Cambodia’s future prosperity depends on a number of important things. First and foremost, it depends on a strong institution of governance. International investors won’t chose Cambodia if, for example, the courts and the legal infrastructure isn’t reliable. Investors need to have confidence that contracts will be enforced; that the rule of law will be upheld, and that corruption will be prevented or at least resisted.

Secondly, I stressed the importance of education and fostering opportunity for young people. More than three-quarters of Cambodia’s population is under the age of thirty. That represents a tremendous opportunity, as long as young people have access to educational opportunities and can develop their full potential. I think that’s key to the growth of this country. So, I made clear that the United States will partner with all those in Cambodia who are prepared to work towards democratic good governance and who are prepared to contribute to the effort to strengthen the rule of law in this country.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, just one more question and then I leave the floor to other people. You mentioned that because now, the impediments for investments, such as corruption, justice system and also the point that you mentioned, human rights issue, education. I think all of this is now Cambodia is fixing right now. Do you think that is the reason U.S. investors don’t come to Cambodia and what do you think, in what year that U.S. investors will come to Cambodia?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, we are working with the private sector as well as with the government in Cambodia to increase both trade and investment. Ambassador Todd has been very active in this regard and the Administration has sent various missions and senior officials to promote trade. There are areas where reform and progress in Cambodia will make a huge difference. I‘ve mentioned the problem of corruption and would cite that as an ongoing challenge for Cambodia and for investors here. The issue of corruption is directly linked to the strength of the legal institutions. It’s essential that both the Cambodian people and foreign investors have confidence in the courts and in the equal application of the law. That is an essential condition for sustained economic growth.

QUESTION: Do you think there are any specific project that will be happen during 2015 in terms of trade and investment?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: I will defer to Ambassador Todd to provide specifics about what may be on the calendar in terms of trade and investment. I know he has a number of activities planned. My focus is on the policies that will facilitate trade and investment that will help Cambodia develop in a sustainable manor and that will make Cambodia more competitive, in what is an already extremely competitive region. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the TPP Agreement, which includes Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, all neighbors to Cambodia, is expected to be concluded in the coming months. That’s a very high quality trade agreement. Among twelve countries that collectively represent 40% of the world’s GNP, it’s clear that free trade and high quality trade agreements are coming Asia’s way, and against that backdrop it’s especially important that Cambodia make progress in short order to upgrade its governmental institutions to attract investor and to remain competitive. That includes the labor front, as well as in areas such as education, the environment and energy; three areas of focus in America’s cooperative developmental projects here in Cambodia.

QUESTION: In terms of debt, is there any development on this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: That too I think I’ll leave to Ambassador Todd to provide and update on.

QUESTION: You just mentioned that U.S. is prepared to work with those that want to promote human rights, democracy, and rule of law in Cambodia. Could you tell us how the U.S. is going to help this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, we have been working towards that goal through the range of programs championed by our Embassy Phnom Penh and USAID. That includes training, it includes education, it includes good governance programs, it includes exchanges, and a range of technical forms of cooperation that build capacity in the Cambodian system. Secondly, both our economic policy and our private sector are forces for reform and fair practices. U.S. companies have extensive corporate social responsibility programs that help build the culture that respects the rights of citizens and consumers. At a governmental level we use every opportunity, as I did today, to convey clearly the concern on the part of the United States wherever human rights and civil rights are at threat or are abridged. I left the Acting Foreign Minister in no doubt about the importance that we place on the protection of human rights, as well as the importance of pursuing policies that build confidence in Cambodia’s governance system. At the same time, we emphasize that as political space increases in Cambodia and as citizens are empowered to exercise their legitimate political rights, support in the United States for expanding and upgrading the US/Cambodia relationship, increases. So, positive steps to political reform that demonstrate a respect by Cambodia’s leaders for its citizens and that build confidence among those citizens in their ability to shape their own political future, will make it easier for me, make it easier for Ambassador Todd, make it easier for other in the U.S. Government to implement the kind of programs that we believe will benefit Cambodia. That said, the strongest argument for protection human rights and civil rights, isn’t that it will improve Cambodia’s relationship with countries like the united states and the international community, although that happens to be true; the strongest argument in favor of the protection of universal human rights is that it produces a stable and healthy society. The fact is the United States wants Cambodia to succeed. We benefit from a stable and a prosperous Cambodia. At the end of the day democratic governments with a healthy respect for human rights flourish economically. The tremendous wealth created in the United States in the last ten years is a function of an open society where people are free to challenge orthodoxy, to speak out, to ask difficult questions, to innovate and where they can count on the courts and the rule of law to protect the intellectual property that they develop. We would like to help Cambodia prosper by pursing the rule of law and respecting human rights.

QUESTION: Do you have any figure of bilateral trade between U.S. and Cambodia and the plan to put bilateral trade and investment in Cambodia?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: There too I think I’ll defer to Ambassador Todd for the specifics. What I will say though is that I believe it is valuable for Cambodia to have a diversity of economic trading partners and to have a multiplicity of options when it comes to doing business. Now the United States is a wide open market. That accounts for the fact that we are Cambodia’s largest export market. On the other hand the amount of U.S. investment in Cambodia is small relative to many of the other Southeast Asian countries. Now, our embassy and our economic team is working hard to promote trade and investment, but frankly the challenge of corruption, the challenges in Cambodian legal and other institutions, and uncertainty about the future of Cambodia’s political arrangements, may be factors in slowing down American investors. That’s not a U.S. government policy, that’s a strategic risk decision by private capital and private business. We have followed very closely the political developments, including the agreements reached between the ruling and the opposition party. We are tracking closely every step forward that Cambodia takes towards reform and democracy, but the people who need to be convinced that they can count on long term stability in Cambodia, in addition to your own citizens, are the international business community.

QUESTION: I read through your remark in CICP this morning. Mostly your remarks are positive for Cambodian political atmosphere. In a paragraph you said that it’s a clear call for the reform after the election in Cambodia so that after the agreement between the CPP and the CNRP, now they are working all together in National Assembly. Did you mark any progress of reform within Cambodian politics?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, what I said and what I think is that the results of the July 2013 elections were a clear call for democracy, for transparency, and for reform in Cambodia. And I believe that the loudest voice heard was the voice of young people, who have high hopes and great aspirations for democratization and rule of law in this country. Now, certainly the agreements reached between the two parties is a positive step and the commitments, regarding reforms in advance of local elections and then national elections in 2017 and 2018, are very important commitments that need to be kept. But here’s how I think we need to look at it, democracy and reform in Cambodia is a work in progress. There’s no simple “on” switch. It requires sustained and consistent work by all sectors of society. It requires dialog and it requires determination. Now, I believe that the Cambodian people and the American people basically want the same things for themselves, for their families, for their communities, and for their nations. We want opportunity and we want justice. The United States can help and is determined to help Cambodia on both of those fronts. But there are real challenges; there are significant problems; the problem of corruption; the problem related to land seizures; the problems related to unequal application of the law; the uncertainly regarding the resolution of several outstanding questions pertaining to the rules that will govern the upcoming election. Cambodia now has an extraordinary chance to get it right and I came with a message to the government, the business community, and civil society, that the United States will be a full partner to those in Cambodia who will commit to taking meaningful steps toward democratic reform and good governance.

QUESTION: You met with opposition and Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs this morning. What is their message and promise to the United States?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, I leave it to the Cambodian side to speak for themselves, and the Foreign Ministry, I believe has already issued a statement with their take on the conversation this morning.

MODERATOR: We are running low on time, so we’re going to have one more question and then we’ll have to wrap it up.

QUESTION: Just back to the meeting this morning, just to make sure that you have raised about the demonstration and about the arrest of the activists of the opposition party. My question is, what did you learn about this situation after the election crackdown and what is the U.S. position on this violence?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, I very explicitly raised the issue of the BKL protestors who have been arrested, summarily convicted and whose appeal has now been denied. I of course don’t propose to intervene on an internal legal matter, but the unmistakable appearance is of a politically motivated prosecution. Cambodia and the United States have great differences, but even so, I’m not aware of any other country in which moving a bed into a road is a criminal offence punishable by significant jail terms. The perception that justice is doled out in an unequal manner, harms Cambodia reputation, shakes the faith of Cambodia’s friends, discourages potential investors, and I believe runs counter to the expression of the Cambodian people in the election calling for democratic reform. Did everybody get a chance?

QUESTION: I have two questions; the first one is that I want to continue with our colleague, Mr. Sokheng, talking about rule of law this morning. His Excellency Ouch Borith has told reporters that the arrest of the protestors of Boeung Kak Lake and the activists of CNPR, it was a practice of the rule of law and I want know what was your answer to that about this. And the second question is that now talking about the investment or trade we see with much Japanese investment, Japanese investors are coming to Cambodia after Chinese investment or Chinese investors, so for the United States, will we see many competitors in terms of trade?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well on the first question, in keeping with longstanding diplomatic custom, I’m not going to provide details of the discussion that I held with government officials, but as I indicated earlier, I explicitly raised our concerns regarding the BKL case and the verdict. I specifically flagged how closely we are monitoring the CNRP trial case and I underscored the point that actions that undermine faith by the international community, or more importantly Cambodian citizens, in the judicial institutions of the country, work counter to the goal of growth, stability and democratic reform. So I made our concerns very, very clear.

With respect to investment in Cambodia by other Asian countries, whether it’s China, or whether it’s Japan, we do not consider that to be problematic competition, as long as it is clean and fair. If the, the decision is for Cambodian’s to make of course, but I don’t know of any country that doesn’t prefer sound investment based on good business models over problematic investments that involve pay offs or are not respectful of the environment and other factors. So this issue isn’t, where does the investment originate from, the issue is what is the quality of the investment. Now it’s my observation that U.S. investment is particularly high quality, but that’s not to say that Japanese or Korean or other investors can’t similarly do business in a way that genuinely benefits the Cambodian people, the Cambodian economy and the Cambodian nation.

Oh yeah, thank you so much. I can’t believe I have two major omissions, I apologize for that. I’ve completely neglected to mention, arguably my favorite meeting of the day, was with a group of about two dozen or more, young leaders, who participate in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiate, YSEALI program that President Obama announced more than a year ago. This is a program that supports young people who are active in business or in community fairs in areas like the environment and development from all ten of the ASEAN countries. President Obama has held town hall meetings with the YSEALI leaders in the past and will continue to do it on a regular basis. We’ve sent some of the representatives from Cambodia to participate in town hall meetings with the President and we’ve also arrange for many of the YSEALI members to travel to the United States and within Asia as part of their programs. I had a chance to have a long talk with them about their hopes and their aspirations for this country as well as for the further development of ASEAN.

The second thing that I neglected to mention is that the Department of States Asia Bureau has a Twitter account. It’s @USAsiaPacific. We use that to provide updates to what we’re doing in this region and focus on areas of interest to people of Cambodia as well. So I encourage you to share that with your readers. Thank you very much.

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Legal Matters, PolicyAgriculture, PolicyRegional

Daily News 22 / 12 / 2014

Passenger rights: Eurobarometer survey shows one in three EU citizens are aware of their rights when travelling

The European Commission released today the results of a new Eurobarometer survey on passenger rights. Nearly one third of EU citizens are aware of their rights and obligations when buying a ticket to travel (31%), although 59 % said to be unaware of them according to the survey. The results also show a very high level of satisfaction among passengers who need assistance due to a disability or reduced mobility: 81% of them were happy with the assistance received. Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport said: “Citizens are my number one priority when it comes to European Transport and I want to ensure that they are aware of their rights when travelling. It is important that rights don’t only exist on paper. Today’s survey shows that progress has been made, particularly for persons with a disability or reduced mobility, but clearly more can be done. However let’s not forget that all EU citizens are covered by passenger rights under EU law wherever and however they travel – this is already a brilliant achievement for our Union. Now, our priority will be to make sure all Europeans know their rights when they travel. Let’s work together to achieve this!” For more detailed information click here. Video message from Commissioner Bulc on passenger rights. (for more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Joshua Salsby – Tel.: +32 229 72459)

 

EU to support agriculture sector and improve education in Cambodia

The European Union has announced new funding of total €410 million under its bilateral cooperation with Cambodia over the period 2014-2020 to continue its support to Cambodia’s progress. The funds will help to strengthen agriculture and natural resource management, provide better education and implement governance and administration reforms. Cambodia has achieved outstanding socio-economic progress over the past 10 years. The majority of the population lifted out of poverty however remains highly vulnerable. The EU has therefore decided to increase its support to Cambodia to help the country’s ambitions to further reduce poverty, to promote equitable and sustainable growth and to enhance good governance, democracy and the rule of law. In addition to this bilateral programme, Cambodia will continue receiving support under other EU thematic and regional instruments and programmes. More details are available here. (for more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229-69921; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229-92256)

EU increases humanitarian aid for South Sudan

The European Commission is increasing its life-saving assistance to South Sudan by €7.78 million, bringing its 2014 relief aid for one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises to more than €117 million. The new funds will provide shelter, water, hygiene and protection to the people affected by the conflict. They will also help South Sudanese refugees in Sudan. In addition, the Commission supports the overall refugee response in the Horn of Africa with around €50 million, which includes aid to South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya. Humanitarian funding from the EU – its Member States and the European Commission – for South Sudan stands at over €273 million in 2014. The conflict in South Sudan has resulted in the death of tens of thousands and the displacement of two million people. More details are available here. (For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69 921, Irina Novakova – Tel.: +32 229 575 17).

 

EU releases emergency funds for humanitarian assistance to Libya

The European Commission is giving €2 million in emergency funding to assist scores of Libyans who have been forced to flee their homes because of worsening violence in the country. The funding will provide essential humanitarian assistance and protection to the most vulnerable people affected by the conflict. It will be used to provide food, shelter, medical assistance and psycho-social support. The approaching winter will also increase the need for warm clothing, heaters and insulated shelter. “It is clear that there are huge needs and the emergency aid we are providing can be a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable families caught up in the conflict,” said the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. A press release is available with more details. (for more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229-69921; Irina Novakova – Tel.: +32 229-57517)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Nutreco by SHV

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Nutreco by SHV, both of the Netherlands. Nutreco is active in the production, sale and distribution of nutritional products for fish and livestock animals, under brands such as Trouw and Skretting. SHV operates worldwide in energy distribution (SHV Energy), cash-and-carry wholesale (through Makro stores in South America), heavy lifting and transport activities (Mammoet), mechanical engineering components and industrial services (ERIKS), oil and gas (Dyas), and private equity (NPM Capital). The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because the activities of SHV and Nutreco do not overlap. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7471. (for more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.:+32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission approves IMS Health’s acquisition of parts of Cegedim, subject to conditions

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of part of the customer relationship management and strategic data business of Cegedim S.A. of France by IMS Health of the US. The decision is conditional upon IMS’ commitment to divest parts of its primary market research business and to grant third party access to the structure underlying its sales tracking data, the so-called “brick structure”. The Commission had concerns that the proposed transaction could lead to less choice and higher prices for customers of standardised primary market research services. Also, the Commission had concerns that IMS Health could refuse to give access to its “brick structure” to its competitors. This would have prevented IMS Health’s competitors from competing effectively on the market. The commitments address these concerns. The full press release is available here. (for more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.:+32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Culture: Europe’s historical sites up for the European heritage label  

Today, sixteen historically and culturally important sites around Europe have been recommended to receive the European Heritage Label (EHL). The label celebrates the cultural diversity of the continent and highlights a sense of a shared European belonging. A series of information and educational activities related to the sites will also be organised. The sites have been selected by an independent panel set up by the European Commission, and are spread across 10 Member States. They include sites in Germany (Sites of the Peace of Westphalia in Münster and Osnabrück; Hambach Castle); Greece (the Heart of Ancient Athens);  Spain (Archive of the Crown of Aragon; Residencia de Estudiantes); France (Abbey of Cluny; Robert Schuman’s House); Hungary (Pan European Picnic Memorial Park); Italy (Museo Casa Alcide De Gasperi); Lithuania (Kaunas of 1919-1940); Poland (Union of Lublin; the May 3 Constitution of 1791; the historic Gdańsk Shipyard; Portugal (General Library of the University of Coimbra, Charter of Law of Abolition of the death Penalty); and Slovenia (Franja Partisan Hospital). The Commission will formally nominate the sites in February 2015. More information about the EHL and the sites can be found here. (for more information: Lucia Caudet  – Tel.:+32 229 56182, Mirna Bratoz – Tel.:+32 229 87278)

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EuropeanParliament, Miscellaneous

EIB and Bhutan sign a Framework Agreement for capital investments

EIB and Bhutan sign a Framework Agreement for capital investments

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EIB and Bhutan sign a Framework Agreement for capital investments

Román Escolano, EIB Vice-Président and Bhutan ‘s Finance Minister, Lyonpo Namgay Dorji

08/12/2014

Rights Free

On Thursday 4 December, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union’s long-term financing institution and Kingdom of Bhutan signed a Framework Agreement under which the Bank can start financing capital investments in the country.

The agreement was signed by the EIB Vice-President with special responsibility for the Bank’s activities in Asia, Román Escolano and his Excellency Lyonpo Namgay Dorji, Finance Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan in Thimphu, capital of Bhutan.

The EIB is the long-term lending institution of the European Union and its shareholders are the EU Member States. Its remit is to make long-term finance available for viable projects in order to contribute towards EU policy objectives. Outside the EU, the Bank support projects that contribute to economic development in countries that have signed association or cooperation agreements with the EU or its Member States.

In Asia, the European Investment Bank has so far signed Framework Agreements with Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen.

The signing of the Framework Agreement represents the first step of the EIB to support development projects in Bhutan. EIB is cooperating closely with the European Commission and the EEAS, in support of the EU’s policy objectives in the country. In pursuing sustainable investments in Bhutan, the Kingdom of Bhutan and EIB already discussed potential projects in the country, namely in the areas of energy and water infrastructure.

The EIB has been active in Asia since 1993 under mandates granted by the EU Council and the European Parliament. During this period the EU bank has signed contracts in the region for a total of EUR 5.6 billion. On 1 July 2014 the EU’s new External Lending Mandate, covering the period 2014-2020, entered into force. Part of the current mandate is dedicated to Asia, enabling the EIB to finance operations that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation or the development of sustainable economic infrastructure. Additionally, the EIB can also draw on its own resources under the Climate Action and Environment Facility or the Strategic Projects Facility to finance relevant projects on a selective basis.

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