ADB Signs First Trade Finance Agreements in Uzbekistan

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today signed trade finance agreements with three banks in Uzbekistan. The agreements with Agrobank, Asaka Bank, and Hamkorbank are ADB's first such agreements in the Central Asian country.

Exporters and importers in most developing economies find it difficult to access the finance they need to conduct cross-border trade. The Trade Finance Facilitation Program (TFFP) aims to fill that need by providing loans and guarantees through, and in conjunction with, international banks and banks in ADB's developing member countries.

Support for trade will also help boost the economy in Uzbekistan, which ADB recently forecast would grow 8.5 this year and 9.0% in 2011.

"The agreements under ADB's Trade Finance Facilitation Program will provide Uzbek companies with the financial support they need to buy and sell key components and final goods. More business means more jobs and higher incomes," said Philip Erquiaga, Director General of ADB's Private Sector Operations Department.

In 2009, the TFFP provided support for $1.9 billion in trade deals, 300% more than in 2008. By attracting private sector financing and because the portfolio can roll over once a year, the program could generate $15 billion in trade finance through 2013.

In addition to providing the finance, the program links banks and firms in ADB's developing countries with their counterparts in other countries. This builds relationships and spurs knowledge sharing that will help banks and their clients in the longer term.

"The trade finance agreements will bolster cooperation between banks and businesses in Uzbekistan as well as between firms in Uzbekistan and their business partners further afield," said Kazuhiko Higuchi, ADB's Country Director in Uzbekistan.

"The links created through the program will complement the efforts by the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program to help Central Asian economies leverage off each others' strengths through better transport, energy and trade ties," he added.

The CAREC program is a partnership of eight countries – Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan - and six multilateral institutions; ADB, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, the United Nations Development Program, and the World Bank.

Banks in Afghanistan and Azerbaijan are already participating in ADB's TFFP and ADB expects banks in other Central Asian nations to sign on to the program later in 2010.