Financing foreign trade in the eastern Mediterranean

By Axel  Reiserer

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Financing foreign trade in the eastern Mediterranean

EBRD information session in Athens attracts strong interest

The EBRD Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) held an information session about “Financing Foreign Trade with Greece” in Athens yesterday. The event attracted over 100 representatives from issuing and confirming banks under the TFP as well as representatives of the local chamber of commerce, local companies active in import and export, and trade finance professionals.

The event provided the participants with an opportunity to discuss challenges facing the industry with leading specialists including regulators and economists. The information session was opened by Nick Tesseyman, EBRD Managing Director for Financial Institutions, and by the Governor of the Bank of Greece, Yannis Stournaras, who welcomed the EBRD’s engagement in the area of trade finance which will foster integration and growth.

Jean-Marc Peterschmitt, EBRD Managing Director for Countries of Operations and Chief Operating Officer, provided the workshop with an overview of the Bank’s investments and activities in Greece to date and an outlook for the year ahead.

The EBRD started investing in Greece in 2015 on a temporary basis. One of the first activities was presenting the Bank’s TFP to Greek banks and attracting their interest in participating in the programme. As a consequence, to date the EBRD has approved trade finance limits for a total amount of €200 million for National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank to support the expansion of international trade.

Peter Sanfey, EBRD Country Economist for Greece and Deputy Director for Country Strategies, stressed that the Greek economy was slowly stabilising. In the area of trade finance Greece was now less dependent on the eurozone than before the crisis, he said, and confirmed that the EBRD’s TFP will support the establishment of successful trade links and correspondent banking relationships with new trading partners.

This commitment was also reiterated by commercial banks attending the workshop. The event was expected to contribute to a growth in trade finance business and the active utilisation of the trade finance facilities already made available by the EBRD.

A panel with the four systemic Greek banks discussed challenges for trade finance and how the TFP would be able to support the future trade finance business of its clients.

The EBRD’s TFP promotes foreign trade to, from and among the EBRD countries of operations and offers a range of products to facilitate this trade. Established in 1999, to date the programme has enabled more than 18,500 transactions worth over €12.8 billion in 28 countries where the EBRD invests. Providing trade finance also contributes to the EBRD’s strategic goals for the period 2016-18: strengthening economic resilience, addressing global challenges and supporting regional integration.

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