EUR 200 million in loans for SMEs from EU's COSME Program

An agreement that provides EUR 200 million credit support for about 4,600 small and medium-sized enterprises in Serbia has been signed in Belgrade.

Source: B92, Tanjug

The agreement comes in the framework of the COSME Program of the European Union.

It was signed by Chairman of the Executive Board of Banca Intesa Draginja Djuric, Executive Director of the European Investment Fund Pier Luigi Gilibert and CEO of UniCredit Bank Serbia ad Csilla Ihasz, and attended by Serbian Minister of Economy Goran Knezevic, the Serbian government announced.

Knezevic said on this occasion that Serbia, just as Europe, draws its biggest potential and strength from small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up 98 percent of businesses, employ two-thirds of workers in the non-financial sector and contribute more than 50 percent to the GDP of the country.

European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elzbieta Bienkowska noted that this project demonstrates the EU's determination to reach out to small businesses across Europe in order to create jobs.

"Serbia is a very important country for me personally, but also for the entire European Commission," she said, adding that our country has friends in Brussels, who are willing to help her.

The contract signed with Unicredit Bank Serbia will provide new lending in the amount of up to €100 million, and the funds will be disbursed over the next three years to about 2,400 small and medium-sized enterprises.

The annex to the contract with Banca Intesa will enable the bank to support another 2,200 small and medium-sized enterprises with an additional €100 million after the successful implementation of a €60 million loan under the contract signed in December 2016.

Speaking later in the day, Elzbieta Bienkowska said that Serbia is carrying out intelligent and ambitious reforms that are producing results.

"The Serbian economy grew at 2.5 percent last year - it was a result of the very intelligent and ambitious reforms," Bienkowska told a panel discussion on industrial policy and development of SMEs in Serbia's EU accession process, organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and the EU Delegation to Serbia.

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