MANILA, Philippines – Investments by the International Finance Corp. (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, hit an all-time high in East Asia and the Pacific during fiscal year 2013, with a focus on facilitating business among emerging-market economies.
IFC’s loans and equity investments reached $3.4 billion for 83 projects across East Asia Pacific during the fiscal year that ended June 30, up about 15 percent from the previous year.
The commitments included seven South-South projects worth a total of $218 million. IFC Advisory Services also achieved strong results with a portfolio volume of close to $154 million across 85 projects.
“Despite the current slowdown in economic growth in East Asia Pacific, this region continues to be the source of much of global business activity and will continue to play a critical role in overcoming the recent global financial crises,” said IFC director for East Asia and the Pacific Sérgio Pimenta.
“IFC supports cooperation between emerging markets as capital flow from one developing country to another is critical to tapping new sources of funds, generating economic growth, and reducing poverty.”
Assisting companies and banks in investing sustainably abroad has been a particular focus in China where IFC invested more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2013.
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The World Bank Group and Myanmar reached a major milestone during the past fiscal year when the Bank Group re-engaged with the country after a 25-year hiatus.
IFC is focusing on expanding the power sector in the energy-starved nation where three out of four people have no access to electricity. IFC is also helping to improve access to finance since demand for microfinance exceeds supply by four times as the country’s economy grows following decades of isolation.
IFC supported the expansion of Cambodia’s ACLEDA Bank into Myanmar by providing a $2 million loan and advice on microfinance operations. With IFC’s support, ACLEDA Bank has set up a microfinance institution in Myanmar with the aim of improving financial services for more than 230,000 people by 2020.
IFC has a similar focus on providing basic banking and business services in post-conflict countries such as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste where IFC made its first investment with a $500,000 convertible loan to Tuba Rai Metin, a microfinance organization that serves Timorese women and small businesses.
Across East Asia and the Pacific, IFC’s investment and advisory projects are expected to expand access to finance for 9.3 million people and more than 360,000 small and medium enterprises, improve access to infrastructure for 1.4 million people, provide health and education services for 800,000 people, support 76,000 farmers, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.2 million metric tons per year.
“IFC’s investment and advisory work over the past year shows our commitment to strengthening the role of the private sector in achieving the World Bank Group’s goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity,” Pimenta said.