Longstanding partner expands operations
Strengthening its trade finance operations, Albania’s Union Bank has joined the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP). The two longstanding partners signed an agreement in Tirana today under which Union Bank becomes an issuing bank, allowing it to issue trade finance guarantees to support the import and export activities of local companies.
The €5 million trade finance line will allow Union Bank to issue guarantees in favour of confirming banks. A special emphasis will be put on the import of higher-performance technologies and services to support Albania’s transition to a green economy in line with the EBRD Green Economy Transition (GET) approach.
The EBRD will also provide technical assistance to support the training of Union Bank staff working in the field of trade finance, expanding access to trade finance for Albanian businesses.
Charlotte Ruhe, EBRD Managing Director, Central and South-Eastern Europe, said at the signing: “This is a remarkable step as it marks the return of our successful TFP to Albania after almost 20 years. It will support the local economy by facilitating trade and cross-border economic integration, which is one of the EBRD’s strategic priorities for the Western Balkans. Albanian businesses will profit from access to bigger markets thanks to the benefits offered by the Programme.”
Gazmend Kadriu, Chief Executive Officer, Union Bank, added: “For some time, Union Bank has been fighting for better use of trade finance by Albanian businesses, often using direct contacts and payments with neighbouring countries that are our main trade partners. Among the many excellent features of this TFP is the training assistance offered by the EBRD which convinced us to join the Programme. We hope to make good use of this support so that the TFP is embraced by our clients and a success for our bank.”
Since the beginning of its operations in 2006, Union Bank has been growing its business and profits continuously, focused on the banking needs of individuals and of small and medium-sized enterprises, and offering these clients a full spectrum of banking products. Years of pursuing sustainable growth have brought Union Bank to a current total of around €350 million in assets.
Launched in 1999, the EBRD Trade Facilitation Programme aims to promote foreign trade to, from and among the countries in which the EBRD invests. 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 TFP currently includes 96 partner banks in 26 countries where the EBRD invests, with limits exceeding €1.5 billion in total and more than 800 confirming banks worldwide.
Supporting environmentally friendly development, the EBRD launched its Green TFP in 2016, a new concept under the Trade Facilitation Programme. Green TFP facilities have similar terms and conditions to other TFP facilities but are available only for the financing of exports, imports and for local distribution of imported green technologies and services.
In May 2017, Green TFP won an award for “innovative product” from the leading business and finance publication Global Finance.
Since the start of its operations in Albania, the EBRD has invested more than €1 billion in the country through almost 80 projects. The Bank is active in all sectors of the economy, with a special emphasis on infrastructure, energy and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.