EBRD to host trade finance conference in Yerevan

By Loretta  Martikian

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in cooperation with the European Union (EU), is holding a trade finance conference to increase awareness and facilitate better access to trade finance instruments for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Armenia. The event will take place on 1-2 October 2014 at the Elite Plaza Business Center in Yerevan. During the two-day event, internationally renowned industry experts will discuss the opportunities and challenges faced by local entrepreneurs in accessing trade finance in Armenia.

Mike Taylor, EBRD Director for Financial Institutions in Central Asia, Caucasus and Mongolia, will open the conference at 09.00 on Wednesday 1 October, welcoming and addressing over 150 conference participants.

The conference will see a number of high profile speakers as well as representatives from local SMEs, commercial banks and various business associations, discussing the current trends in trade finance and the development needs of this sector. It will also feature panel discussions, presentations and case studies of successful trade finance transactions in Armenia from invited experts, local and foreign commercial banks and local SMEs.

“The EBRD remains a committed partner in Armenia, paying special attention to supporting local SMEs, which play a leading role in the development of the trade sector. We would like more companies to be fully aware of all the financing options available to them and be in a position to use those alternatives,” said Mike Taylor. “I would also like to thank the EBRD’s long-standing partner banks, Armeconombank and Ameriabank, the lead sponsors of this event, who have greatly contributed to improving access to available trade finance for SMEs,” he continued.

“This is an important event for Armenia, a unique opportunity to bring together so many trade finance experts and key local stakeholders to discuss and address the industry challenges,” said Maria Mogilnaya, Analyst within the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme. “Organised together with the EBRD’s Small Business Support, this event will contribute to expanding SME access to trade finance in Armenia.”

Armen Naljyan, Chief Executive Officer at Armeconombank, said: “Armeconombank was one of the first Armenian banks to join the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme in 2002. Since then, by enhancing the utilisation of trade finance tools, we have encouraged the development of the SME sector in Armenia. This gives us the opportunity to support local production and exports of Armenian products. The volume of our trade finance operations quadrupled in 2014, with the number of transactions increasing by 34 per cent.”

Gagik Sahakyan, Corporate Banking Director at Ameriabank, said: “Highlighting the important role of SMEs in the economic development of Armenia, Ameriabank has tailored its trade finance policy to meet the specific financing needs of SMEs. As a result, in the 8 months leading to the beginning of this year, Ameriabank’s trade finance portfolio increased by 17 per cent, which represents a growth of 43 per cent in year-on-year terms. This outstanding growth was attributable to the persistent work of bank staff as well as the implementation of trade finance programmes with international financial institutions, and especially projects designed by the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme.”

The EBRD is grateful to Armeconombank, Ameriabank, Araratbank, Armswissbank and Inecobank for sponsoring the event, and to the Armenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Foundation for Small and Medium Businesses for their support and collaboration in organising this conference.