In the framework of its Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), the European Investment Bank (EIB) announces a EUR 30 million loan to Banque Marocaine de Commerce Extérieur (BMCE), unsecured by a sovereign guarantee, to assist the medium-term of financing to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The corresponding finance contracts were signed in Casablanca by Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President in charge of FEMIP, and Mr Othman Benjelloun, Chairman of BMCE.

At the signing ceremony, Mr de Fontaine Vive commented: "This loan is designed to support the Moroccan authorities' efforts over the last few years to inject dynamism into the economy. Joining forces with the BMCE, which has an intimate knowledge of the local market, FEMIP is committed to bolstering the financing of Moroccan SMEs, particularly in the tourism sector. The loan represents a first for the EIB in that it is being granted to a local bank (BMCE) on the basis of the quality of its signature without the requirement of a sovereign guarantee. Assisting the development of the Moroccan private sector forms part of FEMIP'S main objectives in the Mediterranean partner countries.

At the request of the European Council in December 2003 the Ministers decided to "allocate up to EUR 200 million from the Bank's reserves to facilitate increased risk-sharing operations totalling up to EUR 1 billion."

Loans in the Mediterranean partner countries are granted under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). This focuses primarily on developing the private sector and financing the social and economic infrastructure underpinning that development.

In 2004, FEMIP lent a record EUR 2.2 billion in the Mediterranean countries, of which EUR 241 million to Morocco. Additional aid worth EUR 13.8 million was provided through its technical assistance fund (for further information on FEMIP's results in 2004, see press release of 4 March 2005).

With an office in Rabat since June 2005 and some EUR 2 billion advanced in Morocco since 1995, FEMIP makes a major contribution to financing capital projects that have a fundamental impact on the economic development of the country.