ECONOMY

In Brief

Romania calls for proposals to tap EU funds for projects BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania yesterday called for projects to use 150 million euros in European Union funds to help improve roads, tourist attractions and protect the environment until its 2007 entry target. The amount, part of a 464-million-euro scheme to be disbursed under the PHARE regional development program for the European Union candidate over the next three years, will be used to finance specific projects in the Balkan country. Integration Minister Alexandru Farcas said projects must be submitted by local authorities and address issues such as fixing the country’s potholed roads, boosting environment protection in polluted industrial areas or upgrading derelict historical towns and villages which have touristic potential. The projects must be worth between 2 and 5 million euros each and the money – on top of which the government contributes 25 percent – does not have to be repaid. Officials estimated that around 600 projects across the country in the areas of tourism, infrastructure and environment are eagerly awaiting finance. Fitch raises ratings outlook on Turkey’s debt LONDON (AFP) – Fitch Ratings said yesterday it has raised its outlook for its rating on Turkey’s long-term debt denominated in foreign currencies and lira because of the country’s improving macroeconomic situation. The international rating agency said in a statement that its B-plus rating on Turkey’s long-term debt had a positive outlook compared with a previously stable outlook. The outlook upgrade reflects a «combination of improving economic and financial fundamentals, together with clearer prospects over the future of the country’s relationship with the International Monetary Fund,» Fitch said. Turkey, with the aid of the International Monetary Fund, is emerging from a 2002 financial crisis through major economic restructuring. Momentum was also building regarding Turkey’s EU accession bid in the wake of strong political reforms during 2004, it noted. Fitch said that while Turkey would see major challenges on the fiscal financing front in 2005, the likelihood of securing a new IMF program was high, «which will support market confidence, provide some insulation from rising global interest rates and should offer some valuable sources of fiscal funding.» Syria-Turkey pact Syria signed a pact with Turkey yesterday to increase sales of crude oil and oil products to its northern neighbor in exchange for fuel oil and asphalt imports. Syria’s official SANA news agency said the national state oil marketer Sytrol had signed the agreement with Turkey’s mostly state-owned oil refiner Tupras and state petrochemical producer Petkim. It gave no details of volumes and did not say when the agreement would come into effect. A Turkish Embassy source in Damascus said the two sides would agree on the volumes and finalize other details within a month. Tupras said in July it may raise its 400,000 tons of oil purchases from Syria in 2005. Turkey’s consumption of refined oil rose to 14.4 million tons in first half of this year, up from 13.5 million tons last year. (Reuters)