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LONDON: The EU will provide €60 billion ($62.58 billion) for economic development in Gaza in a program with the European Investment Bank.

The plan, part of a broader investment strategy that includes the West Bank, was announced by EIB Vice President Gelsomina Vigliotti and EU representative Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff during a visit by EU ambassadors to the region.

The funds will be made available to companies across Gaza through the Palestinian Monetary Authority’s flagship Estimada recovery program in the form of business financing, portfolio guarantees and incentive grants, supporting smaller business and startups.

Dr. Rafat Al-Araj, a representative of the PMA, said: “Improving access to finance by entrepreneurs and businesses here in Gaza is crucial to create jobs, strengthen economic resilience and increase private sector investment.

“The new cooperation between the PMA, the EIB and the EU will transform investment, unlock dedicated financing for young entrepreneurs and help local companies to harness new business opportunities.”

Vigliotti said: “The EIB … is committed to supporting private sector investment here in Gaza, improving access to finance by entrepreneurs by backing new credit lines with local banks and unlocking investment to enhance economic resilience.

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“Businesses and entrepreneurs in Gaza will benefit from $50 million new financing and a dedicated €13 million support package under the Palestine Financial Sustainability Programme. This represents the first dedicated EIB support for Gaza business investment.”

Kuhn von Burgsdorff noted that the provisions were crucial given Gaza’s economic predicament, exacerbated by the situation with Israel and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Gaza has been through difficult times recently, experiencing the economic fall-out of COVID, the hostilities in May last year and rapidly increasing food, energy prices now. The initiative we present today will support economic recovery and reconstruction efforts across the Gaza Strip,” he added.

The EU delegation was joined by numerous business and political partners from Europe and Gaza as part of the six-day trip.

On Sunday, Vigliotti and EIB President Werner Hoyer will formally open the bank’s first permanent representation to the West Bank and Gaza.

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