NIB and Belarus sign framework agreement

The Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and the Republic of Belarus have signed a framework agreement establishing the Bank's legal status permitting lending operations in Belarus with focus on environmental projects. According to the document, NIB has the legal status as an international financial institution (IFI) in the country, a precondition for the Bank to start long-term loan financing for projects in Belarus. The agreement will enter into force after the ratification by the Belarusan Parliament. "In Belarus, NIB will finance environmental improvements primarily in wastewater treatment, because Belarus is part of the Baltic Sea catchment area. Our second priority is to help cut airborne pollutants and reduce greenhouse emissions. The quality of the environment in Belarus significantly affects the Bank's member countries in the Baltic Sea region," says NIB President and CEO Johnny Åkerholm. The basins of three major rivers-the Daugava, the Nemunas and the Vistula-all drain into the Baltic Sea and cover a large part of Belarus's territory. The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, HELCOM, has identified the cities of Grodno, Vitebsk and Brest, which are all located on these watercourses or their tributaries as environmental hotspots demanding urgent action. As a kick-off of its lending in Belarus, NIB is considering an environmental loan programme for the Republic of Belarus allocated to the country's Ministry of Housing and Communal Services for improving wastewater treatment in selected hotspot cities. NIB's environmental lending in Belarus will be closely coordinated with other IFIs and bilateral agencies for international aid. As a contributor to the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Fund, Belarus has become eligible for grant funding combined with loans from the IFIs, which will promote the country's access to long-term structured international financing for environmental improvements. The Nordic Investment Bank is the common international financial institution of the eight Nordic and Baltic countries. NIB provides long-term financing to the energy, environmental, transport, logistics and communications, and innovation sectors for projects that strengthen competitiveness and enhance the environment. NIB has the highest possible credit rating, AAA/aaa, with the leading rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody's. For further information, please contact Mr Heikki Cantell, General Counsel, +358 10 618 0390, Ms Kersti Talving, Senior Manager Origination, at +358 10 618 0245, Mr Dimitrijs Alehins, Senior Communications Specialist, at +358 10 618 0296, [HUG#1420613]