Press Releases

IFC Increases Trade Finance to Support Economies in Middle East and North Africa

In Cairo:
Riham Mustafa
Phone: +20 22 461 4230

In Washington, D.C.:
John McNally
Phone: (202) 458-0723

Istanbul, Turkey, May 26, 2011—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced today in Istanbul that it is stepping up its Global Trade Finance Program in the Middle East and North Africa region to support trade flows between emerging markets and stimulate job creation at a time of important change.

As of April 30, 2011, IFC had provided 1,070 trade finance guarantees on behalf of issuing banks to help businesses in the Middle East and North Africa region trade internationally. The $662.3 million value of these finance guarantees surpasses the $541 million in guarantees issued by IFC in all of fiscal year 2010.

“We hear the region’s citizens demanding greater opportunities and a brighter future, and we are helping answer these calls by supporting trade that allows businesses to prosper,” said IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Lars Thunell, speaking at a conference of IFC’s bank partners from around the world. “Increasing trade flows not only allows products produced in the Middle East and North Africa to reach international markets, but also allows firms in the region to import the equipment, raw materials and other inputs they need to grow and create much-needed jobs.”

In response to recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, IFC is rolling out a robust campaign to ensure a flourishing private sector in the region. Included in this crisis response is a commitment to scale up access to finance—into which the Global Trade Finance Program fits—as well as a fund to promote regional integration investments, a financing facility to address the region’s infrastructure gap, and an education for employment initiative to tailor learning opportunities to the region’s job market needs.

For example, at the close of fiscal 2011’s third quarter, IFC had provided trade finance guarantees worth $9.8 million in West Bank and Gaza. Bank of Palestine’s use of IFC’s trade finance guarantees has doubled in one year to more than $8.2 million.

“Doing business from West Bank and Gaza can present local firms with some unique challenges, but through our membership in IFC's Global Trade Finance Program we are able to support our business clients to overcome those challenges, grow their companies, and tap in to markets around the globe," said Hashim Shawa, Bank of Palestine Chairman and General Manager, who attended the conference.

IFC uses its Global Trade Finance Program to help foreign firms and financial institutions feel more confident doing business with Middle East and North Africa region companies by providing partial or full guarantees against underlying trade instruments. The program covers the payment risk of participating issuing banks. Overall, IFC has issued more than $10 billion in guarantees since the program’s start in 2005. Through the program, IFC provides coverage for over 200 issuing banks in more than 84 emerging markets, and has a network of more than 400 participating banks around the world.

“IFC believes that trade and short-term finance has great development impact and we want to do all we can to help further integrate developing countries into the global economy, especially the poorest countries and those affected by conflict,” said Lars Thunell. “Our network of banks and relationships are a critical part of this strategy.”  

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit

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