Iraq has taken the first step to become a member of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The 71 existing shareholders of the multilateral financial institution approved a request by the country during the Bank's Annual Meeting on Wednesday.
The EBRD promotes private sector development and sustainable and inclusive growth through a combination of investments, policy engagement and technical assistance. Last year, the EBRD financed 452 individual projects in Europe, Asia and Africa and financing exceeded €10 billion for the first time in the Bank's history, rising to €10.1 billion from €9.5 billion in 2018.
Iraq submitted a request for membership in April 2018. The Bank's Board of Governors has now agreed to the first stage in this process. Iraq will have to meet some pre-membership requirements before the membership process concludes with the acquisition of shares.
Jürgen Rigterink (pictured), the EBRD's Acting President, welcomed the decision:
"We are very proud and happy that we will soon be able to welcome Iraq as our latest member. Today we have taken the first step on what we hope will be a long and successful joint journey. We are looking forward to building closer ties with Iraq."
Mohammad Jaafar Al-Sadr, the Ambassor of Iraq to the United Kindom, said:
"We welcome the outcome of the EBRD's Annual Meeting and the support EBRD's Governors for Iraq's request to become a member of the Bank. We appreciate the Bank's shareholders attention to our application and the work of the EBRD Secretary General and his team dedicated to processing this request specifically during this challenging time of Covid-19 pandemic."
As a shareholder, Iraq could subsequently make an application to change its status to recipient country, benefiting from the EBRD's finance and policy support. This request would be addressed by shareholders in a separate process.
The current geographical remit of the EBRD's southern and eastern Mediterranean region does not include Iraq. The resolution adopted by the Bank's Board of Governors today "confirms the EBRD's interest in a limited and incremental expansion to sub-Saharan Africa and Iraq during the next strategy period 2021-2025." Governors will consider an update in 2022, reflecting guidance to be provided at the 2021 Annual Meeting.