EBRD set to invest $323 mln into Bosnia in 2020

SARAJEVO, Sept 24 (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development plans to invest some 300 million euros ($323 million) in 2020 to help Bosnia improve infrastructure, energy efficiency and private sector, its new country chief said on Tuesday.

The bank, which was set up in 1991 to invest in the ex-communist economies of eastern Europe and is now operating in 38 countries, is the largest multilateral donor in Bosnia and has so far invested 2.5 billion euros through 165 projects there.

Manuela Naessl, who will assume her position in October, said EBRD’s priority would be to help the Balkan country complete a pan-European north to south highway linking Budapest in the north with the Croatian port of Ploce in the south.

“It is important infrastructure for the country, for economic development and linking it to Western markets,” she told Reuters.

Naessl also said the EBRD would continue to help improve the business climate and support small and medium-sized enterprises, adding that tourism, automotive and agribusiness could turn into a backbone of the economy.

The EBRD is also focused on energy projects, especially on green energy after the approval in December of a new strategy with a total ban on coal projects. ($1 = 0.9093 euros) (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Alison Williams)