“In the past fiscal year, which ended on June 30, the IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program (GTFP)  committed more than $1 billion to guarantee cross border deals in the region,  doubling the commitment since 2010,” said a media statement.The GTFP makes it easier for local banks to provide trade finance by mitigating risks in markets where trade may be hampered. The programme offers global and regional banks guarantees covering payment risk and letters of credit for trade related transactions, so that businesses can feel confident in long distance transactions of vital goods such as medical and agricultural equipment, foodstuffs, energy goods, and raw materials. “Our GTFP partnership with IFC has helped us manage the growing needs of our clients in Lebanon and abroad,” said Salim G. Sfeir, Chairman of the board and CEO at Bank of Beirut. “Being a bank with a strong focus on trade, we consider this support to be crucial to integrate the region and build foundations for a sustainable future.”Lebanon leads the way in the region, benefitting from a $496 million trade commitment in the past year, a 34 percent increase on the previous fiscal year. Banks in Pakistan, Egypt, and Jordan make up the bulk of the rest of IFCs trade commitments in the region.“The Middle East and North Africa region can benefit from increased trade activities,  to support economic integration and link it to global economies, this in turn will boost economic growth,” said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa.Over 1000 guarantees to banks in MENA in the past year ensured that the region remains the best represented in the global program, and new banks are joining all the time. Since the inception of the program in 2006, IFC has provided almost $4 billion in trade guarantees across MENA.