The Forum of Eastern Partnership companies was held on Thursday 21 May in Riga. On this occasion, the European Commission launched launched a financing instrument dedicated to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the three countries of the deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA).
The Facility will provide some €200 million worth of grants from the EU budget over the next 10 years. This contribution is expected to unlock new investments worth at least €2 billion for the SMEs in the three DCFTA countries: Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The financial means for the investments will be largely coming from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Lack of liquidity is one of the major problems of SMEs. Securing funding for necessary investments, the DCFTA Facility for SMEs will help businesses seize new trade opportunities with the EU and within the region. It will help SMEs to take advantage of increased foreign direct investment, and to comply with EU product standards and environmental protection measures.
The DCFTA Facility for SMEs is an integral part of the SME Flagship Initiative – a wide-ranging EU action supporting SMEs in the whole Eastern Partnership (EaP) region since 2009.
The Facility complements EU bilateral programmes that support structural reforms in each EaP country, help small businesses grow and prepare for market opportunities of the DCFTA, and help national authorities to implement the agreements.
The DCFTA Facility consists of a set of joint programmes – implemented by the EBRD and EIB – offering support to lower the risk for financial institutions of lending to SMEs, make local currency lending accessible, reduce the cost of investment for SMEs and provide them with business advisory services to make the most of the opportunities opened by the DCFTA.