The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, is lending ECU 43 million (1) for upgrading and expanding existing potash manufacturing activities at Safi, in the South-eastern part of the Dead Sea in Jordan.

The loan, which is part of EIB's continuing efforts in support of the industrial sector in the Middle East, is made available to the Arab Potash Company Ltd (APC), the world's fifth largest potash producer. Owned 55% by the Government of Jordan, APC is one of Jordan's most successful manufacturing companies.

The project comprises the expansion of existing solar evaporation surface areas of carnallite and salt ponds, as well as the installation of a new brine pumping station. It will increase the potash production capacity by 10%, from 1.8 to 2.0 million tonnes per year.

The project creates value-added from the vast mineral resources of the Dead Sea, without impacting negatively on its water balance. Potash, widely used as a fertiliser as well as in a range of other chemical applications, such as water treatment, desulphurisation, and printing, is one of the Jordan's major exports and foreign exchange contributors.

The expansion of the industrial port of Aqaba also supported by the EIB with ECU 30 million, will facilitate export shipments by Jordan's large industrial projects, such as this.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) was set up in 1958 under the EC Treaty to provide loan finance for capital investment furthering EU objectives. It participates in the implementation of EU co-operation policies towards third countries that have co-operation or association agreements with the Union. In the Mediterranean region, the EIB operates in the context and support of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, adopted in Barcelona in 1995, and which complements the EU Member States' own bilateral co-operation policies.Under the Euro-Med Partnership arrangements, the EIB is committed to lend some ECU 2 310 million between 1997 and 1999 for investment projects in 12 non EU-Member Mediterranean countries. In 1997 some ECU 1 billion was committed by the Bank in support of a broad range of investments in the Mediterranean Region.This loan follows a number of other loans committed by the EIB, making total financing since 1978 in Jordan exceed ECU 400 million, to support projects in water supply and waste water treatment, telecommunications, transport, electricity transmission and distribution, agricultural development and SMEs' industry projects.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 31 March 1998, when ECU 1 = 0;639 GBP ,1.10421 USD, 0.760390 JOD.