The European Investment Bank (EIB) today formally agreed a package of EUR 3m of long-term funding to improve access to finance from small and medium sized enterprises and micro-sized initiatives in the Cook Islands. The signing of a global loan with the Bank of the Cook Islands marks the first time the EIB has provided such assistance in the south pacific nation and is part of an expansion of SME finance to four new Pacific states following the successful completion of an initial finance facility to Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. The finance contract was signed this morning by representatives of the EIB and the Bank of the Cook Islands.

This agreement extends the EIBs Pacific Islands Financing Facility (PIFF) for the first time to financial institutions in the Cook Islands, alongside similar loans signed in Samoa, Tonga, Palau and Niue. It this reflected the EIBs response to a recognised shortage of long-term funding for smaller projects in Pacific countries.

The loan reflects the role of SMEs and micro-sized initiatives as being key to sustained employment growth in the Pacific region and private sector development being crucial to both poverty reduction and building stable democratic societies.

This project is one of a number of initiatives financed by the EIB in the south Pacific region currently being approved during a regional tour by Bank representatives.

Background notes:

The European Investment Bank (EIB) was set up in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome as the long-term lending Bank of the European Union. The European Investment Bank has significantly increased its contribution to the long-term development of the Pacific countries economies over the last five years. In line with priorities set by the Cotonou mandate and in close cooperation with the European Commission, financing of private sector and environmental projects will remain centre stage in future EIB activities. EIB lending in the Pacific build on the regions strengths supporting and promoting economic growth and employment.

Since the start of operations in the Pacific the EIB has funded loans and equity worth over EUR 380m to support economic activity in a region hampered by the high cost of developing infrastructure across widely dispersed and remote small island countries.