Citigroup, IFC launch $1.25 bln fund to boost trade


July 15, 2010 Updated Jun 15, 2009 at 6:02 PM CDT

US bank Citigroup and the World Bank launched a 1.25-billion-dollar funding facility to stimulate trade in emerging market economies, the banks announced Monday.

The three-year program could support estimated trade flows of up to 7.5 billion dollars, Citigroup and the International Finance Corp (IFC), the private sector financing arm of the World Bank, said in a joint statement.

Citigroup will provide 60 percent of the financing, or 750 million dollars, while the IFC and other development agencies will be responsible for the remainder.

The move is an extension of the World Bank-led Global Trade Liquidity Program, which brings together governments, international development agencies and private sector banks to support trade finance to importers and exporters in the emerging markets affected by the global financial crisis.

The global program is aimed at supporting up to 50 billion dollars of trade.

Citi will use the funding to "originate" trade finance transactions from emerging market banks in Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, allowing the banks to extend financing to local importers and exporters, the statement said.

This in turn will help stimulate country and regional commerce, it said.

"Global trade is facing serious challenges in today's financial environment, given the shortage of liquidity worldwide," said Lars Thunell, IFC chief executive.

"This program benefits small businesses in developing countries, which are a major source of jobs and have been hard-hit by the global financial crisis," Thunell said.

Francesco Vanni d'Archirafi, chief executive of Citi's global transaction services business, said the group was firmly committed "to restoring the flow of trade and commerce financing around the world."

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