Housing Bank for Trade and Finance joins EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme

By Nibal Zgheib

The Housing Bank for Trade and Finance PLC joined the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) as a confirming bank, in a move that is expected to boost levels of international trade by Jordanian companies and contribute to the country’s economic development.

Founded in 1973 and based in Amman, the Housing Bank for Trade and Finance is the largest bank in Jordan in terms of branches and ATMs as well as client base, and the second largest in terms of assets. By the end of September 2012 the total assets amounted to US$ 10.3 billion and equity of US$ 1.5 billion, while net profits reached US$ 111 million. The bank offers a wide range of products to corporate and retail customers across Jordan. With more than 15,000 large corporates and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and 750,000 retail clients, the bank is well-positioned to service a rapidly growing number of companies and individuals interested in cross-border trade with counterparties in countries in which the EBRD invests.

The EBRD’s strategic priority is to support the continuing recovery in the aftermath of the global financial crisis for the countries in which it invests, while also addressing issues of energy security and efficiency. The EBRD recently began investing in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia and investments in Egypt are expected to start by the end of the year. EBRD investments in the SEMED region are expected to run up to as much as €2.5 billion annually by 2015.

In the SEMED region, the EBRD is focused on promoting the development of the private sector, and of SMEs in particular, as a means of creating jobs and helping to address the issue of youth unemployment. Other priorities for the region include improving local services and working to secure energy supplies by supporting the development of sustainable sources of energy and reducing energy waste.

Francis Malige, EBRD Director of Financial Institutions for SEMED, Turkey and Ukraine, said: “The EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme aims to build and sustain access to trade finance for a wide variety of participants. We are delighted to welcome Jordan’s Housing Bank for Trade and Finance to the EBRD’s global trade network and to initiate our cooperation with the signing of today’s agreement.”

Commenting on this partnership, Dr. Michel Marto, Chairman of the Housing Bank said: “the bank always aspires to serve diverse economic sectors through signing agreements with reputable and globally accredited banking institutions”. Dr. Marto also added: “this programme comes to cover and guarantee international trade operations among participating banks, facilitating trade between their respective countries and Jordan, while also providing integrated banking services and solutions to meet customers’ needs, as well as ensuring their international dealings, especially with the increased risk of banks in today’s current economic conditions”.

Launched in 1999, the Trade Facilitation Programme aims to promote foreign trade to, from and among the EBRD’s countries of operations. Through the Programme, the EBRD provides guarantees to international confirming banks and short-term loans to selected banks and factoring companies for on-lending to local exporters, importers and distributors.

The Trade Facilitation Programme currently includes over 100 issuing banks in 20 countries of operations with limits exceeding €2 billion in total, as well as more than 800 confirming banks throughout the world.