International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has announced that Bank of Beirut has joined its Global Trade Finance Program. Bank of Beirut is one of the leading private commercial banks in Lebanon.

The Global Trade Finance Program supports trade with emerging markets worldwide and promotes the flow of goods and services between developing countries. IFC provides guarantee coverage of bank risk in emerging markets, allowing recipients to expand their trade finance transactions within an extensive network of countries and banks and to enhance their trade finance coverage.

Farida Khambata, IFC’s vice-president for portfolio and risk management, says: “IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program will support Bank of Beirut’s expanding trade finance business. The increasing number of participant banks in the programme paves the way for developing countries like Lebanon to increase their share of global trade through this wide network of correspondent banks.”

IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program offers confirming banks partial or full guarantees against underlying trade instruments and covers the payment risk of participating issuing banks. The programme allows issuing banks to increase the volume and value of trade transactions with enhanced tenors and access to competitive pricing terms.

IFC’s first engagement with Bank of Beirut was in 1997 with an eight-year credit line for industrial and housing loans for Lebanese private sector businesses and individuals.

Salim Sfeir, Bank of Beirut’s chairman-general manager, says: “Joining IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program means Bank of Beirut can further expand its network of correspondent banks, which creates new opportunities for our clients.”

Bank of Beirut’s participation as an issuing bank in Lebanon has expanded the coverage provided by IFC’s GTFP particularly to support intraregional trade in the Middle East and North Africa. Worldwide, the Global Trade Finance Program has issued guarantees worth US$150mn since it began operations in September 2005.