European Bank targets over $11B investment in 2019

             By Gokhan Ergocun</p>    <p>SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina  (AA) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) aims to break its €10 billion ($11.1 billion) investment threshold for the first time in its history, said the head of bank on Wednesday.</p>    <p>Addressing the opening session of the Governors' Board in the EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, Suma Chakrabarti said the bank invested nearly €10 billion in countries it has been operating for three years in a row.</p>    <p>&quot;Last year’s investment level was close to the 2017 record and the number of operations was at the top end of the business plan as well,&quot; he added. </p>    <p>The bank profited €606 million (some $700 million) in 2018, and €634 million ($760 million) in 2017, the president said, adding it keeps to be financially strong.</p>    <p>Chakrabarti added that the donor countries supported the EBRD with some €583 million ($670 million) last year, with the EU being the biggest donor.</p>    <p>&quot;We were also particularly pleased that Spain and Israel have resumed their place in our donor family, and to welcome more of our recipient countries, namely Turkey, Poland, and Bulgaria. Many thanks to them as well,&quot; he stressed.</p>    <p>The president said that 2019 would be a pivotal year and the beginning of a further step for change that will require enhancing the quality of the investments and projects of EBRD.</p>  <p> </p>    <p>- Integration ‘powerful instrument’ to expand trade</p>    <p>&quot;The EBRD business model, focused on the private sector and combining our traditions of sound banking with an emphasis on a policy reform, has served us well,&quot; Chakrabarti underlined. </p>    <p>He also said the EBRD funds small and medium-sized enterprises, supports women entrepreneurs, and encourages households to invest in energy efficiency.</p>    <p>Touching on integration projects, he said the integration is a powerful instrument to expand trade, increase cross-border investment and encourage the exchange of new ideas and innovation.</p>    <p>&quot;Integration via physical infrastructure connects regions via roads, railways, ports, airports, and telecommunications, helping people and goods move more easily. It also boosts economic opportunities in regions which have been hitherto poorly connected to the rest of the global economy,&quot; he added.</p>    <p> </p>  <p>- Bosnia expects more investments from EBRD</p>    <p>Denis Zvizdic, the chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the investments of EBRD in Bosnia reached €2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) so far.</p>    <p>Investments were made in 160 different projects -- mostly in infrastructure projects -- he stressed.</p>    <p>Zvizdic elaborated on the investments of European Bank: &quot;In 2018, the EBRD invested €200 million ($230 million) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is a significant increase compared to €130 million ($156 million) in 2017.&quot;</p>    <p>&quot;I anticipate there will be further expansion and these investments will exceed €300 million ($335.9 million) in 2019, and not just in the infrastructure sector, but also to strengthen the private sector and for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as energy efficiency and the green economy.&quot;</p>  <p> </p>    <p>- Annual meeting and business forum</p>    <p>This year, the EBRD event was organized under the theme of Connecting Economies for Stronger Growth, with a focus on ways to &quot;connect economies for strong growth and impact, both in the Western Balkans and beyond,&quot; according to its website.</p>    <p>Around 3,000 attendants -- experts, officials, businesspeople, environmental specialists, entrepreneurs -- discuss several topics, such as global trade, blockchain, digitalization, tourism and migration during the three-day event which started on Tuesday.</p>    <p>Established in 1991 to facilitate reconstruction in Central and Eastern Europe after the Cold War, the EBRD has since made investments worth €133 billion ($149 billion) in around 5,200 projects so far.

Poor economy, governance weaken Nigeria’s security: Experts

                      By Rafiu Ajakaye</p>    <p>LAGOS Nigeria (AA) - Nigeria's worsening security situation is caused by increasing poverty rate, inadequate manpower and a large swath of ungoverned spaces that criminal gangs have long occupied, according to security experts in the country.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>&quot;A lack of persistent government control for the past decade has ensured that these [bandits] are now unchallenged,&quot; Fulan Nasrullah, executive director of the Conflict Studies and Analysis Project at Global Initiative for Civil Stabilization (GICS), a security think-tank, told Anadolu Agency.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>Nasrullah said the lack of effective policing of the countryside has created a vacuum and led to armed groups and criminal gangs taking over villages and carving out territories.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>&quot;Kidnapping, rural banditry, cattle rustling and extortion from miners and communities are fuelling the groups,&quot; he added.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>Nigeria's northwest has come under intense attacks by armed groups staging high-profile kidnapping and raids on local communities -- with hundreds being killed in the process. </p>  <p> </p>  <p>Police said last week that 1,071 persons have been killed and 685 others kidnapped in Nigeria since January, most of them from the country's northwest where armed gangs have been on the rampage.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>Quoting figures from the Global Initiative for Civil Stabilization (GICS), Nasrullah said at least two persons are abducted in the region every day. </p>  <p> </p>  <p>&quot;The crisis first began in 2008 as cattle rustling, which has gradually expanded over the years into rural banditry in which they attack communities and steal and burn,&quot; he said.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>&quot;From 2015, it has slowly evolved into a kidnapping campaign, with roads now unsafe to use, and tens of thousands of dollars being paid as ransoms per victim,&quot; he added.</p>  <p> </p>  <p> </p>  <p>- ‘Breakdown’ of socioeconomic structure</p>    <p>Freedom Onuoha, a counterinsurgency expert, said the crisis exposes the “breakdown” of socioeconomic and security structure of the country.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>&quot;Nigeria is increasingly witnessing the widening of the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Those who are deprived of economic opportunities are accessing livelihood through criminality,&quot; he told Anadolu Agency.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>Onuoha said the country's &quot;centralized&quot; security system is unable to cope with the complex nature of the crisis. He said the crisis is worsened by &quot;mediocrity&quot; in governance.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>&quot;The solution would include urgent review of the basis of our national security architecture to retool it to effectively anticipate and respond to evolving security challenges,&quot; according to him.  </p>  <p> </p>  <p>&quot;There is also the need to restructure some security establishments and adopt a more robust decentralized security framework,&quot; the security expert added.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>Insisting that the country is “underpoliced”, Nasrullah called for recruitment and training of more policemen “to checkmate armed gangs”.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>The crisis in the northwest has raised fears about possible links between the armed gangs and Boko Haram terrorist group or militias fleeing Africa's crisis-ridden Sahel region.</p>      <p>Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, who faces criticism for not doing enough to tackle the crisis, said on Sunday his government remains committed to ending the menace.

Germany to invest in gas-fired plants in coming decades

             <p>By Ebru Sengul</p>  <p>BERLIN (AA) - Germany is committed to diversifying its energy supply in order to compensate for reduced power production from nuclear and coal, Germany's Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Thomas Bareiss, told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday.</p>  <p>Speaking exclusively to AA, Bareiss said that Germany will phase out nuclear power and coal to a degree by 2022, effectively shutting down roughly 25% of the country's electricity supply.</p>  <p>&quot;This means that together with the envisaged phase-out of coal by 2038, in the coming decades, we will lose approximately half of our total electricity supply. We need new, safe, clean and cheap supply sources. Natural gas is a good option for us,&quot; Bareiss said.</p>  <p>The German deputy minister added that the potential share increase in natural gas in the country's energy mix might also be driven by carbon emission prices.</p>  <p>The carbon emission prices may rise extensively in the coming years, according to Bareiss, even beyond the current level of about €25 per metric tonne of CO2 in the EU within the next six or seven years, which would make gas more profitable than lignite.</p>  <p>As a result, Bareiss said that Germany will need flexible gas in the next few years because power derived from renewables like wind and solar power is intermittent.</p>  <p>New investments in new gas power plants are likely in the coming years, supported by the country's energy transition, the Energiewende, he explained.</p>  <p>&quot;Initially, this will be natural gas, but in the years to come it will shift more and more to hydrogen of different origins and to synthetic gases,&quot; he added.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>- Nord Stream 2</p>  <p>The Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project plays a crucial role in offsetting the diminishing share of nuclear and coal in Germany’s energy mix. At the same time, the project also serves to compensate for the declining level of natural gas production in Western Europe. However, the project is encountering opposition from some European countries, which are concerned about a potential increase in EU reliance on Russian natural gas.</p>  <p>The project will pass through the territorial and exclusive economic zones of the countries located along the shores of the Baltic Sea, including Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.</p>  <p>It will add two additional pipelines to the original Nord Stream project and plans to have a 55 billion cubic meter capacity, delivering gas from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea.</p>  <p>Recently, Denmark, the only country that has yet to give authorization for the pipeline to cross its territorial waters, has suggested that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should follow a more southernly route due to environmental concerns.</p>  <p>Bareiss said that Nord Stream 2 AG and the Danish government are working on this issue. &quot;This proposal for rerouting will delay the commissioning of Nord Stream 2, but ultimately the pipeline will be completed. The EU’s new Gas Directive has laid down common principles among EU member countries for gas infrastructure,&quot; he said.</p>  <p>The Gas Directive establishes new rules for all import pipelines – existing and new ones – and, unlike the previous Directive, also applies to the territorial waters of the member states.</p>  <p>&quot;Germany has always stressed that the countries of Eastern Europe must be involved in this process. Let me also strongly emphasize that we remain fully supportive of upholding the secure transit of significant gas quantities via Ukraine. We are backing the trilateral talks between Russia, Ukraine and the EU to come to a solution that works for everyone,&quot; he said.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>- LNG</p>  <p>Meanwhile, the U.S. is looking to challenge Russia by stepping up its exports of LNG to Europe. In July 2018, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to strengthen U.S.-EU strategic cooperation on energy.</p>  <p>The parties agreed to work towards greater facilitation of U.S. natural gas shipments to Europe to diversify and safeguard the EU's energy supplies. In 2017, only about 10% of U.S. LNG exports went to European countries.</p>  <p>Representatives from the EU and the U.S. gathered in Brussels on Thursday for the first-ever business energy forum to discuss enhancing transatlantic LNG trade, the role that competitively-priced U.S. LNG can play on the EU market, and the growing opportunities for LNG usage in the transport sector.</p>  <p>&quot;For us, energy security, that is the diversification of supply routes and sources of natural gas into the EU and its member states, is a crucial topic,&quot; Bareiss said.</p>  <p>He added that consequently, Germany is supportive of investments in the country's natural gas transport infrastructure, be it in the form of import pipelines or LNG infrastructure of which the main responsibility lies with the private sector.</p>  <p>&quot;Whether companies opt to import LNG via the existing and planned LNG infrastructure across the EU, including Germany, is a question of how competitive LNG is on price compared with the natural gas delivered by pipelines from Russia, Norway and Algeria. Currently, there are a number of LNG terminals in the EU whose capacity utilization is below 30%,&quot; Bareiss said.</p>  <p>The German deputy minister added that investors are currently planning to construct LNG terminals along Germany’s northern coastline, in Stade, Brunsbuttel and Wilhelmshaven. He underlined that financial support may be available to back the construction of a domestic LNG import terminal. Such support would stem from existing financial support programs, including a regional financial support program and a program that is part of the government’s mobility and alternative fuel strategy.</p>  <p>&quot;Should the investors of these LNG terminals seek public funding, they have the opportunity to apply for funding from existing financial support programs,&quot; he stressed.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>- Germany's 'Energiewende'</p>  <p>Germany has agreed to switch its energy supply more towards renewables and to become increasingly energy efficient, a process that the country calls the 'Energiewende.'</p>  <p>&quot;We have to recognize that Germany has an ambitious carbon emissions target for an industrial nation: a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020. We set ourselves this target assuming that we would have more nuclear power plants than is now the case,&quot; he explained.</p>  <p>Bareiss said after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Germany decided to bring forward its nuclear phase-out while retaining its high carbon emission targets, which made the targets difficult to reach by 2020.</p>  <p>&quot;Our response has been to say that we must definitely achieve our 2030 targets. We are taking measures in all sectors: in energy (electricity and heat), industry and mobility. Heating is very important. Over half of the German energy consumption is used to provide heat to buildings, industry, and the commerce and trade sector,&quot; the German deputy minister said.</p>  <p>Renovation in the housing sector is not progressing as fast as they would like, as the necessary investments can be quite high, according to Bareiss.</p>  <p>&quot;We are offering financial incentives to homeowners for investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. We are spending a lot of money, roughly €3 billion a year, to promote investments in new heating systems and insulation,&quot; the deputy minister noted.</p>  <p>Bareiss also underlined that Germany will see an increase in e-mobility in the next ten years, but highlighted the need for efficient combustion engines in the meantime.</p>  <p>&quot;We are working to make the engines more efficient, especially in the truck sector, which covers longer distances and needs more powerful engines,&quot; Bareiss added.</p>  <p>He contended that, rather than setting the target of 100% renewables, 80% would be more viable and secure.</p>  <p>&quot;Experience has shown us that the last 10 or 20% tend to be very expensive. So our goal is to show the world that the energy transition works and makes sense. We have to demonstrate that the energy transition is feasible, affordable, viable and secure. Other countries will only follow us if they see that it works in Germany,&quot; he concluded. </p>      

China, S.Korea, Japan take stance against protectionism

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA – Top officials from China, South Korea and Japan on Thursday vowed to take a strong stance against the policy of protectionism.

Economic experts and central bank chiefs from the countries met in Nadi, Fiji and agreed to step up efforts for regional trade and investment activities, Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

"We will remain vigilant against the downside risks and reaffirm our commitment to resisting all forms of protectionism, upholding an open and rule-based multilateral trade and investment system,” a joint statement released after the trilateral meeting said.

The statement comes at a time when China and the U.S. are engaged in a “trade war”.

"We agreed to further enhance communication and coordination among China, Japan and Korea to contribute to strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth,” the economic policy makers of the three countries added.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference.

Turkey aims to hit $182B in exports in 2019

             By Diyar Guldogan</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Turkey eyes $182B export target in 2019, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.</p>  <p>Addressing the 4th Commercial Counsellors Conference, Erdogan said: &quot;We target an export figure of $182 billion in 2019 and $500 billion in 2023,&quot; </p>    <p>Turkey has broken &quot;historic records&quot; for 17 years in almost every area, the president told the meeting at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara.</p>    <p>Erdogan said his government aims to transform Turkey into an economy that records foreign trade surplus.</p>    <p>&quot;We are determined to catch an economic growth above 5% again in 2021,&quot; he said.</p>  <p>Turkey aims to reach economic growth of 2.3% this year, 3.5% in 2020, and 5% by 2021 under its new economic program announced last September.</p>  <p>“In 2019, I believe that we will receive 50 million tourists in Turkey,” the president also said.

Turkey: Central Bank reserves at $96.3B in March

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – The official reserves of the Central Bank of Turkey (CBRT) totaled $96.3 billion as of the end of March, the bank reported Friday.

Last month, total reserve assets posted a 3.8% decline, down from $100.1 billion at the end of February.

Foreign currency reserves amounted to $74 billion in convertible foreign currencies, falling 4.8% over the same period.

Gold reserves dropped 0.7% to $20.8 billion including gold deposits and, if appropriate, gold swapped.

On a yearly basis, official reserves of the CBRT dropped 12.7%, as the amount was $110.3 billion at the end of March 2018.

In mid-December 2013, the bank's total reserves hit all-time peak at nearly $136 billion, including some $21 billion in gold reserves.

  • Liability side

Friday's report also said short-term predetermined net drains of the central government and the CBRT climbed 70% month-on-month to $25.2 billion in March.

"Of this amount, $12.1 billion belongs to foreign currency loans, securities, foreign exchange deposit accounts of foreign banks and residents abroad within the CBRT.

"Specifically $7.4 billion in principal repayments and $4.7 billion in interest repayments," the bank said.

It also said liabilities arising from the CBRT’s financial derivatives activities were $13.1 billion, of which $9.6 billion is due in one month while $3.5 billion in 4-12 months.

In March, contingent short-term net drains on foreign currency were $31.2 billion, falling 2% on a monthly basis.

According to the bank's definition, the contingent short-term net drains on foreign currency consist of “collateral guarantees on debt due within one year” and “other contingent liabilities," which are the banking sector’s required reserves in blocked accounts in foreign currency and gold, and the letters of credit items on the Central Bank’s balance sheet.

UPDATE – Turkey: Consumer confidence up 6.9% in April


By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish consumers' confidence in the economy rose by 6.9% in April, the country's statistical authority announced Monday.

The consumer confidence index stood at 63.5 this month, up over four points compared to March.

The index value is jointly calculated by TurkStat and the Central Bank of Turkey through measurement of consumer tendencies.

In 2018, the index value hovered between 72.7 and 57.6 — the highest posted in July and the lowest in October.

On nearly 20 economic and financial criteria, consumers’ assessments and expectations for the next 12 months are measured in monthly tendency surveys.

The index is calculated from the survey results on a range of 0-200, with above 100 indicating an optimistic outlook, and below 100 a pessimistic outlook.

In April, the index for general economic situation expectations stood at 82.4, surging 4.8% from 78.6 in March.

"The financial situation expectation of household index — 78.3 in March — increased by 5.1% to 82.2 in April," TurkStat said.

Consumers' tendency to save money for the next 12-month period climbed 18.3%, to 26 in April versus 22 in March.

"The number of people unemployed expectation index, which was 58.9 in March, increased by 7.8% to 63.5 in April," the institute said.

The country's statistical authority will release the next survey results on May 21.

Turkey: Consumer confidence up 6.9% in April

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish consumers' confidence in the economy rose by 6.9% in April, the country's statistical authority announced Monday.

The consumer confidence index stood at 63.5 this month, up over four points compared to March.

The index value is jointly calculated by TurkStat and the Central Bank through measurement of consumer tendencies.

In 2018, the index value hovered between 72.7 and 57.6 — the highest being in July and the lowest in October.

'Balkan Davos' ends in Bosnia and Herzegovina

             <p>By Muhammed Ali Gurtas and Talha Ozturk</p>  <p>SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AA) - The tenth Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF) ended on Friday after holding some 450 meetings in the Bosnian capital.</p>  <p>The forum has been held since 2010 in a collaborative effort by Bosna Bank International and the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank.</p>  <p>The SBF, dubbed the “Balkan Davos,” this year had the slogan &quot;One region, one economy.&quot;</p>  <p>Speaking at the closing ceremony, Amer Bukvic, the CEO of Bosna Bank International, said 350 projects were presented during the three-day event.</p>  <p>He added that the forum hosted nearly 2,000 businesspeople from 50 countries around the world. </p>  <p>A wide range of subjects was discussed during the panels, including leadership, challenges, sustainable development, investment climate, youth employment, banking, and technology. </p>  <p>As in the past seven years, Anadolu Agency was the global communication partner from the organization and received an award for the SBF for its support and contributions. </p>    

'Turkey, Balkans trade volume rises over past 15 years'

                By Muhammed Ali Gurtas and Talha Ozturk</p>    <p>SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AA) - The trade volume between Turkey and the Balkan countries has significantly increased over the past 15 years, head of Turkey's Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) said on Wednesday. </p>    <p>Speaking at the 10th Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF), Rifat Hisarciklioglu said the trade volume rose to some $20 billion from around $3 billion despite the global economic crises.</p>    <p>&quot;The Balkans is geographically Turkey's entrance into the European continent,&quot; he said. &quot;In the same way, Turkey is a doorway to the markets of Asia and the Middle East.&quot;</p>    <p>Hisarciklioglu noted that there were over 100 Turkish companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, mainly doing business in the fields of banking, agriculture, manufacturing, construction and tourism.</p>    <p>&quot;These companies' investments in Bosnia totaled more than €600 million [around $678 million] as they employ some 4,000 people.</p>    <p>&quot;The free trade agreement between Turkey and Bosnia boosted the trade volume from $71 million in 2003 to the current levels of around $700 million,&quot; he said.</p>    <p>Hisarciklioglu said the two countries aim to increase the trade volume to at least $1 billion. </p>    <p>Commenting about the business forum, he noted that TOBB would continue to support the SBF in the coming years.</p>    <p>&quot;This forum has been regularly held over the last decade and it has now become a global brand by attracting investors from all over the world,&quot; he said.</p>    <p>Anadolu Agency is the global communication partner for the three-day business conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina, dubbed the ‘Balkan Davos’, where Turkey plays a prominent role. </p>    <p>The forum, which has been held since 2010, is organized this year under the slogan of &quot;one region-one economy&quot;. </p>  <p>