The FINANCIAL — Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Serbia working to improve their competitiveness to succeed in international markets will benefit from a new EBRD trade support initiative launched in Belgrade.
Supported by donor funding from the European Union and Luxembourg, the initiative named Trade Ready has been designed to facilitate access to finance and business advice provided by the EBRD to SMEs engaged in import and export activities.
Growing integration in international trade flows represents both an opportunity and a challenge to SMEs in many countries where the EBRD invests. For Serbian companies to improve their competitiveness is key to win a permanent presence in international markets.
Trade Ready aims to address this and related issues. It offers trade finance training and trade-related business advice for SMEs, networking opportunities with local banks, 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.
Trade Ready will expand the outreach of the EBRD’s pioneering Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) and dedicated business advice through the EBRD’s Small Business Initiative. After the launch in Serbia the initiative will also be introduced in other countries where the EBRD invests.
TFP was developed to promote and facilitate international trade to, from and within the EBRD regions. Since the start of the programme in 1999, the EBRD has financed more than 22,500 foreign trade transactions for a total of more than €16.5 billion. Currently over 100 issuing banks in 26 countries participate in the programme, together with over 800 confirming banks and their subsidiaries around the world.
Through its Small Business Initiative, the EBRD provides business advice to help SMEs grow, succeed and become genuine catalysts for local economies and regions. In over 25 years, the programme has provided more than €400 million of donor funds to assist nearly 22,000 SMEs in the countries where the EBRD invests.
In Serbia the EBRD is a leading investor with more than €4.8 billion in 222 investment projects to date. Supporting the country’s preparations in the course of its planned accession to the European Union is one of the Bank’s priorities.