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World Bank Group and Government of Austria sign Agreement for Offices in Vienna

21 July 2010, Washington

On 21 July 2010 the World Bank Group and the Government of Austria signed a 'seat agreement', formally establishing the World Bank Group offices in Vienna.

The signing of the seat agreement

"I am delighted that the already strong ties between Austria and the World Bank are becoming even closer now that the World Bank family is enhancing its offices in Vienna. This is an important signal, as Austria is one of the driving forces in our endeavors to develop a new international financial architecture," said Ambassador Christian Prosl after signing the Host State Agreement on behalf of the Republic of Austria. "By signing the seat agreement, the World Bank family will be able to make best use of the synergies offered by Vienna and the many international organizations located on the banks of the Danube. Moreover, Vienna – being at the heart of Europe – is also perfectly located for activities regarding Eastern and South-Eastern Europe."

H.E. Christian Prosl, Austrian Ambassador to the USA
H.E. Christian Prosl,
Austrian Ambassador to the USA

"The signature of the 'seat agreement' represents an additional step forward in the already excellent relationship between Austria and the World Bank Group," said Philippe Le Houérou, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia. "Many thanks to Ambassador Christian Prosl, to Executive Director Konstantin Huber, and to the Austrian Federal Ministries of European and International Affairs and of Finance for their hard work and friendly cooperation, which have paved the way for today's signing ceremony."

Initially a borrower, Austria has been a supporter of and contributor to the activities of the World Bank Group since its graduation. In addition to its assistance to the International Development Association (IDA), Austria has also contributed to many World Bank Group managed trust funds supporting specific projects and programs.

Philippe Le Houerou, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia
Philippe Le Houérou,
World Bank Vice President
for Europe and Central Asia

A special example of Austria's support is the World Bank's liaison office in Vienna which hosts the Bank's Centre for Financial Reporting Reform. Opened in November 2007, the Centre is responsible for the World Bank's corporate sector financial reporting activities in Europe and Central Asia. The Centre provides capacity development assistance and knowledge services, including analytical and advisory services, learning and skill development, know-how and knowledge transfer, and technical assistance and institutional strengthening.

The signature of the 'seat agreement' formalizes the administrative arrangements of the Centre and other World Bank Group offices.

According to Le Houérou, "The World Bank office in Vienna is an example of the 'Knowledge Bank', whereby we seek to unbundle the provision of technical assistance from traditional lending. Although the financial crisis has seen several countries return to the Bank for financial assistance, we do believe that the Bank can continue to be of value to partner countries even if there is no longer a lender-borrower relationship between us. This is greatly facilitated by donor funding such as that provided by Austria. So we see you as a key partner in this endeavor."

Thierry Tanoh, Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe, International Finance Corporation
Thierry Tanoh,
IFC Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe

The offices in Vienna are a resource for the countries in the region and also an important technical and implementation partner for the World Bank Group and other agencies working in the field of private sector development. For example, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) provides advisory services and programs to improve the enabling environment for doing business, to facilitate investment and job growth, and improve incomes. Austrian banks are one of the most active participants in IFC syndicated loans, holding around 5 percent of the worldwide portfolio. Austria also provides direct support to several IFC initiatives in the Europe and Central Asia region, such as agribusiness and food safety in Ukraine and Belarus, and infrastructure and energy efficiency in the Balkans. In addition, the IFC works closely with a number of Austrian companies in the power sector.

Thierry Tanoh, IFC Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe, added, "With Austria's steadily increasing support for the IFC in recent years, the Vienna office has played a significant role in expanding our assistance to the private sector in Europe and Central Asia through investments and Advisory Services. The signing of the seat agreement today represents a further milestone in the relationship between Austria and the IFC."

Izumi Kobayashi, Executive Vice President of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Izumi Kobayashi,
Executive Vice President of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency

"MIGA welcomes this agreement and sees many advantages and benefits in having a regional arrangement," said Executive Vice President Izumi Kobayashi of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). "We already do business in the region and this will allow us to be closer to our client base, enabling us to interact more effectively with them, participate in discussions, attend conferences, and work more closely with the donor community and member countries on promoting foreign direct investment into the countries that need it the most."

Le Houérou added, "The 'seat agreement' provides further evidence of Austria's support for the World Bank Group, for which I would like to express our sincere gratitude. Ours is a deep and productive partnership, that I look forward to building on in the future."

Austria has been a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) since 1948; of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) since 1956; of the International Development Association (IDA) since 1961; of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) since 1971; and of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) since 1997. Collectively, these institutions are referred to as the World Bank Group.





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