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EBRD launches new trade support initiative for SMEs

By Axel  Reiserer

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EBRD launches new trade support initiative for SMEs

Bank presents trade finance and advisory initiative, Trade Ready, at WTO Public Forum 2016 in Geneva

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is launching a new initiative to increase access to trade finance and advisory services for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

The initiative, known as Trade Ready, will expand the outreach of the EBRD’s pioneering Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) and Advice for Small Businesses (ASB), helping SMEs involved in import and export activities to get the finance and know-how they need to strengthen their ability to trade and to grow.

Trade Ready aims to unleash the potential of SMEs for international trade. It offers trade finance training for local banks as well as advisory services for companies alongside policy dialogue to engage in improvements in the regulatory environment. While banks can expect to win new clients with the introduction of trade finance products, businesses will benefit from better access to finance and the chance to expand to international markets.

The initiative was presented to the public today at the WTO Public Forum 2016 in Geneva which was held under the theme “Inclusive Trade”. The Forum is the largest annual outreach event of the World Trade Organization and usually attracts more than 2,000 guests.

Rudolf Putz, EBRD Head of the Trade Facilitation Programme, said: “We are very happy to present this new initiative as it will allow local banks to reach small businesses that have the potential to benefit from international trade. Private SMEs represent the core of the economies in most countries where the EBRD invests and supporting the trade activities of these firms is an important element for securing their sustainable growth. The potential is huge, but often the know-how is missing, and this is exactly the issue Trade Ready will address.”

“We know that small businesses need access to both finance and the right advice to develop and grow. With Trade Ready, the EBRD is supporting small businesses through a wide range of services to make them more competitive abroad and at home, whether it is having enough information to make the best choice in their trade finance options or working with a consultant or adviser to adapt their product for a particular market. To achieve inclusive trade, we need to address the fact that smaller businesses are often overlooked,” said Charlotte Ruhe, EBRD Director of Advice for Small Businesses.

The initiative will provide SMEs with advice in a wide range of areas as well as offering training on trade finance instruments and networking opportunities to help engage in export and import activities. Trade Ready will also work with local banks to help them tailor trade finance products to the needs of small businesses and market them effectively. By engaging with smaller firms in trade finance, banks can expand the range of financial products they offer and diversify their portfolio.

More details are available online.

The EBRD’s TFP promotes foreign trade to, from and among 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.

The EBRD helps small and medium-sized businesses to access external advice in 26 countries from Morocco to Mongolia, applying donor funding from the European Union and a wide range of bilateral and multilateral donors. More than 16,000 SMEs have been supported to date, employing over €250 million of donor support that has been combined with contributions from the clients themselves.

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