An EU-backed programme enabling the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Republic of Moldova and other countries that have signed an Association Agreement with the European Union was launched in Chisinau today.

The goal of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) Initiative East is to strengthen economic development in the target countries by providing financial and technical support to SMEs.

The EIB Group has joined forces with the EU’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) to provide a comprehensive package of instruments designed to help companies in the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia make the most of the opportunities arising from the implementation of their free trade agreements with the EU, which involve the progressive removal of barriers to trade and the alignment of standards with those of the EU.

This EU contribution forms part of the European Commission’s wider EU4Business initiative, which brings together EU-funded programmes supporting SME development and improving the business environment in the Eastern Partnership region.

“A well-developed private sector, represented particularly by SMEs, is crucial for economic growth and the creation of new job opportunities in the Republic of Moldova and for the diversification of its economy. It is therefore of high importance both for the Republic of Moldova and the European Union to contribute to strengthening the private sector and boosting its competitiveness. The EU4Business conference held today in Chisinau provided information about the opportunities offered by the DCFTA Initiative East and InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators, for the benefit of private businesses in the Republic of Moldova”, commented Dario Scannapieco, EIB Vice-President responsible for the financing of SMEs and Midcaps.

The EU bank helps private clients access finance via financial intermediaries by offering improved lending terms and conditions. Furthermore, by means of risk-sharing instruments and advisory services it enables local banks to take on more risk and reach out to underserved segments of the economy.

During his intervention at the conference HE Pirkka Tapiola, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova, extensively outlined the support the European Union currently provides to, on the one hand, the Moldovan private sector within a DCFTA context and, on the other hand, to innovation and research, and specifically stated that: “Through the DCFTA Initiative East and the InnovFin programmes, the EIB will significantly contribute to the enhanced competitiveness of Moldovan economy in a global context. Namely SME financing and result-orientated innovation and research will be targeted. "

Other keynote speakers at the conference included Iuri Cicibaba, Deputy Minister of Finance of the Republic of Moldova who said: “Small- and medium-sized enterprises in general, and along agri-food value chains in particular, represent the backbone of the Moldovan economy and account for a sizeable portion of our GDP, employment and exports. The new EU4Business DCFTA Initiative East is most welcome as it will help us in terms of financial inclusion and competitiveness”.

The event was attended by CEOs, CFOs and the top management of SMEs and mid-sized companies as well as financial intermediaries, financial advisors and industry associations.