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Eastern Europe: EBRD Reports Status Of Wholesale Markets

Prague, 25 March 1997 (RFE/RL) -- A top official at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says the bank's projects for private agricultural wholesale markets in Hungary and Romania are doing well. But EBRD Vice President Bart le Blanc told RFE/RL today that similar EBRD-assisted projects in Belarus and Ukraine are "struggling."

The EBRD has loaned $25 million for a fruit and vegetable market in Romania and has helped to finance a $26 million wholesale market in Budapest. About $15 million have been loaned to a Kyiv market and more than $4 million in credits have gone to the Minsk Wholesale Market company.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECED) says the creation of competitive wholesale markets is a crucial part of agricultural reform in Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics. The OECD says farmers are discouraged from planting unless they can sell their harvests for profit.

OECD General Secretary Donald Johnston said in Prague today that "vested interests" in Eastern Europe with "strong political constituences" are resisting reforms meant to encourage growth through increased competition.