The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, is lending ECU 25 million (1) for the upgrading and extension of the airports of Puerto Princesa (island of Palawan) and Cotabato (island of Mindanao) in the Philippines. The loan contract between EIB and the Government of the Philippines was signed in Hong Kong at the margin of the IMF/World Bank annual meetings by Mr. Rudolf de Korte, EIB's Vice-President with special responsibility for the Bank's activities in Asia, and Mr. Roberto de Ocampo, the Philippines Secretary of Finance.

The project, co-financed with the Asian Development Bank, is encouraged by the European Union-ASEAN Co-operation agreement and will contribute to the regional integration of four countries of the East ASEAN Growth Area. After this fourth loan the Bank's commitment in the Philippines totals ECU 145 million. Previous EIB loans went to energy development (ECU 72 million), air transportation (ECU 25 million) and industry (ECU 23 million).

The EIB was set up in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome to provide loan finance for capital investment furthering European Union policy objectives, in particular, regional development, European infrastructure, energy, industry and environment. Outside the Union, the EIB contributes to European development co-operation policy in accordance with the terms and conditions laid down in the various agreements linking the Union to some 130 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean region, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, Asia and Latin America.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 June 1997, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.68, USD 1.13, PHP 30.7245.