HSBC and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are establishing a supply chain finance programme to support companies that provide Covid-19-related supplies, enabling up to US$1.2bn a year of additional trade by Asian SMEs.

The agreement has led to the mapping of more than 10,000 Covid-19 suppliers across the region. This transparency into medical supply chains will enable the financing of critical supplies that may otherwise not be possible, reveals HSBC in a statement.

“Partnerships, like this one with HSBC, are critical to closing market gaps, ensuring that we fuel growth necessary to build back the global economy, create jobs and prosperity,” says Steven Beck, head of the ADB’s newly merged trade and supply chain finance programme. “This partnership will complement ADB’s ongoing efforts to map the supply chain for products critical to the fight against Covid-19, and to support trade flows that will drive the recovery.”

In June, ADB revealed a mapping tool to make global medical supply chains more transparent and trades easier to finance by listing the suppliers of critical Covid-19 goods, including masks, gowns and ventilators, as well as the manufacturers of components that make those products, and the banks that finance them. The tool enables governments, banks, investors and healthcare professionals to trace the companies that make each component in products, avoiding faulty or fake goods which has become an increasing risk since the start of the year.

“Trade has a critical role to play in both the frontline fight against Covid-19 and in supporting the global recovery,” says Natalie Blyth, global head of trade and receivables finance at HSBC. “This agreement will help ensure that trade finance gets to where it is needed and when to support the production and distribution of essential medical supplies and the return to growth.”

In a recent interview with GTR, Blyth said that in times of uncertainty, historic data suggests that companies come back to using trade finance products. Therefore, some of the fall in the volume of trade which has occurred because of the pandemic will be offset by an increased percentage of businesses needing the products to shore up critical access to finance.