November 8, 2017 / 1:05 PM / a year ago

EBRD signs $125 mln in Uzbek loans, first since 2010

TASHKENT, Nov 8 (Reuters) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed documents on Wednesday to extend its first new loans in Uzbekistan since 2010, months after the new Tashkent government moved to re-engage the emerging markets lender.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who came to power last December after the death of strongman leader Islam Karimov - an opponent of market reforms - has pledged to modernise the $70 billion economy and attract foreign investment.

Rebuilding ties with the EBRD this year was one of his first major moves towards that goal. Another milestone reform was the abolition of most of foreign exchange restrictions in September.

“Our re-engagement comes very much in the context of the government’s programme of political, economic and administrative reforms,” EBRD first vice president Phil Bennett told reporters in Tashkent.

The bank reopened its office in Tashkent on Wednesday and signed four loan deals worth $125 million. The EBRD, in particular, lent $100 million to Uzbekistan’s National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity to support a small- and medium-sized business financing programme, it said in a statement.

Three other, smaller projects, are in sectors such as agriculture and healthcare. (Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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