The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is providing EUR 45 million under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership for the extension of the port of Tripoli in the North of Lebanon.

The loan is made available to the Conseil pour le Développement et la Reconstruction (CDR) (1), acting for and on behalf of the Republic of Lebanon.

The works include the construction of a 600-metre quay, seabed excavation and construction of transport and service infrastructure. They will be implemented by the Office d' Exploitation du Port de Tripoli (OEPT), an autonomous public body created in 1959, and operating under the aegis of both the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, as well as the Ministry of Finance.

This is the EIB's second loan made available for the country's port infrastructure. The first was a EUR 45 million loan in 1993 for the port of Beirut.

The investment is part of the efforts to modernise and develop Lebanon's ports, as the bulk of the country's foreign trade is sea borne. Tripoli is the second largest city and port in Lebanon after Beirut. Its port is specialised in certain types of solid bulk cargo.

Enhanced Lebanese port facilities will contribute to promoting regional and international trade flows in view of the establishment of a free trade zone in the Mediterranean region by 2010.

Since 1978 the European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing institution of the European Union (EU), has committed some EUR 500 million for the purpose of financing capital projects in Lebanon essential for the country's reconstruction and economic development. The EIB established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, finances capital investment projects, which further European Union policy objectives. It also helps implement the EU's co-operation policies towards third countries. In the Mediterranean region the EIB operates under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, which complements the EU Member States' own bilateral co-operation policies. Under the second financing mandate of the Euro-Med Partnership covering the period 2000-2006, the EIB is to provide EUR 6 425 million for projects in the 12 Mediterranean countries, which have signed co-operation or association agreements with the EU. The EIB is giving a particular focus to supporting efforts to develop a more open economy and to assist companies in preparing for market liberalisation, with a view to the progressive establishment of a free-trade area with the EU. Further to the Barcelona European Council (15-16 March 2002), the EIB is set to increase cooperation with the Mediterranean Partner Countries by establishing a "reinforced Euro-Mediterranean investment facility" complemented by EIB representation in the region. Operational by Autumn 2002, this Facility foresees increased financial resources, leading the EIB to expand its annual lending in the region from EUR 1.5 billion to EUR 2 billion.

(1) Most EIB's activity in Lebanon (EUR 456 million) has been carried out since 1993 in co-operation with the Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction as part of the programme for the reconstruction of Lebanon. This finance has been made available under the Financial Protocols, the Emergency Aid financing arrangements, and the EU's "Horizontal Facility".