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Iraq: Trade Bank of Iraq Gets $2.4 bln Export Guarantees

by Haitham HaddadinReuters

KUWAIT, Jan 24 - The U.S.-established Trade Bank of Iraq on Saturday said it has secured a total of $2.4 billion in export guarantees for firms seeking postwar rebuilding deals.

Bank President Hussein al-Uzri told a news conference in Kuwait City it was also close to signing a new deal for hundreds of millions of dollars more with a Pan-Arab organisation.

"The total facilities that we have signed so far are $2.4 billion and we hope to use most of it very soon," Uzri said.

Of the total, secured from 17 export credit agencies around the world, only about $16 million has been spent, for medical supplies and instruments, he added.

"This month we began using these credit facilities," Uzri said. "We have received a lot of applications but what we have used so far was last week, about $16 million. There is a big number of applications."

The bank, he said, was close to finalising a deal with the Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation (IAIGC) for hundreds of millions of dollars in export guarantees.

"We are in the final stages ... of signing," Uzri said.

Kuwait-based IAIGC provides insurance coverage for inter-Arab investments and export credits and also aims to foster inter-Arab investment flow.

Funded by oil

The Trade Bank of Iraq, arranged with an international consortium led by J.P. Morgan
, was set up in July with a capital of $100 million to provide trade finance and letters of credit in postwar Iraq for the private and public sectors.

Uzri said there were about 17 other small commercial banks operating there, with total reserves of about $5 billion.

The Trade Bank, whose source of capital is Iraq's oil revenue, has issued close to 130 letters of credit for some $300 million since it began operations late last year, Uzri said.

Of the $2.4 billion, $500 million each was provided by the U.S. Ex-Im Bank and Japan's NEXI while Italy's SACE provided about $300 million, Daniel Zelikow, J.P. Morgan Chase managing director, said.

Uzri and Zelikow were speaking to reporters after a presentation hosted by National Bank of Kuwait, a member of the J.P. Morgan-led consortium running the trade bank.

Other credit export agencies that signed up came from Austria, Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Luzembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

"These are the export credit agencies that have signed up so far. We would expect in coming months others will sign up, making available additional credit," Zelikow said without giving any projections.

Front office operations at the trade bank were being run by Iraqis, while middle and back office operations were handled by an existing U.K.-based J.P. Morgan platform, Zelikow added.





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