ADB Officials in Central Asia to Promote Trade Finance Program

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Private sector officials from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) today completed a visit to Azerbaijan, Mongolia and Uzbekistan as part of ADB's push to expand its Trade Finance Facilitation Program (TFFP) throughout Central Asia.

ADB's $1 billion TFFP provides finance and guarantees through, and in conjunction with, international and developing member country banks to support trade in developing countries. Emerging market companies have long found it difficult to access the credit they need for critical exports and imports. In many countries, this has held back development of new industries as well as overall economic growth.

"Making it easier for companies to get hold of trade finance should boost their business and encourage them to expand and create jobs. This is critical to sustainable long-term economic growth and to the poverty reduction that goes along with it," said Robert van Zwieten, Director of ADB's Private Sector Capital Markets Division of which the trade finance program is a part.

Four Azerbaijani banks - Access Bank, Azerigazbank, Bank of Baku and Bank Respublika - signed agreements under the TFFP between 2006 and 2008 but no banks from either Mongolia or Uzbekistan are currently participating in the program.

ADB would like to expand the trade program to more banks in Azerbaijan and to roll out the program in Mongolia and Uzbekistan. Elsewhere within Central Asia, ADB has signed agreements with banks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

"ADB would like to help local banks ramp up trade finance, allowing them and their customers to build relationships with their peers around the world. That would help integrate banks, and the economies more generally, into the global trade network," said Steven Beck, Head of Trade Finance in the Private Sector Capital Markets Division at ADB.

The ADB staff met with representatives of several banks in Mongolia on 23 October, with bankers in Uzbekistan on 27 October and with banks in Azerbaijan on 28 October to explain the program.

ADB implemented the TFFP in 2004 but expanded it to the current size on 31 March this year in response to the urgent demand for trade finance support. Because the TFFP portfolio can roll over, and given that it attracts private sector participation, the program could provide up to $15 billion in trade finance by the end of 2013.

An increasing number of Asian and international banks are signing on to the program and ADB expects the number of participating banks and countries covered to grow further during the course of this year and 2010. Most recently, ADB signed agreements with four additional Pakistani banks earlier in October and with eight Nepali banks in August.