British firm sells to Bosnia

A British company is playing a leading role in resurfacing the runway of Sarajevo airport, symbol of the country's struggle to recover from the devastating civil war.

Parker Plant International, a private company based in Leicester, has taken advantage of an export guarantee scheme inspired by the World Bank, the international development agency, to sell a mobile asphalt plant, which was used to resurface the airport's pitted runway (finished last month).

Stewart Higginson, Parker's sales manager for Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, said the plant had to be built, exported and made operational within a few months. "We had to make it and assemble it on the spot," he said. The plant began operating in August.

Since the end of the war two years ago, Bosnia has struggled to attract investment to rebuild its economy. With the help of donor countries, the World Bank set up an Investment Guarantee Agency that covers political risk in both Bosnia and the Serb-dominated entity Republika Srbska.

The agency, which is in Sarajevo, is a rare example of cooperation between the Bosnian government and the Serb entity. Onno Ruhl, a World Bank official heavily involved in setting up the IGA, said: "It's a genuine state-level institution with a remarkable level of cooperation."

The guarantees are backed by a fund of around DM40m (pounds 23.8m) deposited with ING Bank in the Netherlands. ING issues a letter of credit to the exporter to Bosnia, against which payment can be made if the guarantee is successfully called. IGA gives guarantees on a purely commercial basis, charging the exporter 3 per cent of the value of the guarantee.

This scheme to finance critical imports is part of a $5bn (pounds 3bn) international assistance package for Bosnia. Another international agency, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, paid for the resurfacing of Sarajevo airport's runway.

Parker, the winner of three Queen's Awards for Export, is no stranger to Bosnia. It sold its first asphalt plant to Bosnaputevi, the contractor that did the work on Sarajevo airport 18 years ago. This latest asphalt plant contract was in fact signed before Parker acquired the "extra comfort" of an IGA guarantee. The company heard about the guarantee scheme in Bosnia.

Parker, which employs 450 people and has a turnover of pounds 30m a year, has also sold an aggregate crushing plant to Bosnia this year, and is doing business in other republics of the former Yugoslavia. The company makes quarry equipment and sand and gravel mixing plants, as well as asphalt plants.

Other companies have also used IGA guarantees. Mr Ruhl said that since starting in July the IGA had signed seven guarantees worth a total of DM14m (pounds 4.7m) for British, Dutch, Austrian and Italian companies. Enough contracts were in the pipeline to ensure that the agency would earn the income to finance and promote its activities.

But many companies are steering clear of Bosnia because it is difficult to finance trade with the country. Mr Higginson said: "Banks are not putting funds forward for Bosnia, where it's desperately needed."

Although the IGA offers protection against political risks, it does not take the place of the banks and other providers of export finance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test