Trade Finance - Helping Importers Save Lives

Bashar Al Barghouthi is in the business of helping save lives in the West Bank and Gaza, and IFC is in the business of helping firms like Intermed Palestine, where Barghouthi is general manager, grow stronger through its Global Trade Finance Program (GTFP).

Intermed, founded in 1984, imports, installs, and maintains high-tech medical equipment from the U.S., Japan, and Europe for hospitals, clinics, and other health centers in the West Bank and Gaza. To import these critical devices, Intermed arranges letters of credit through Bank of Palestine. These are guaranteed by IFC under its GTFP, helping big global banks take on Bank of Palestine exposure and allowing foreign suppliers to ship goods to Intermed promptly. 

“This kind of finance guarantee is very important to our business,” says Bar-ghouthi. “Bringing equipment into Gaza, for example, can sometimes be delayed for six months, so it is important that we have Bank of Palestine and IFC supporting us.”

“Our partnership in IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program is supporting us to meet the needs of our clients and help them increase their business in new markets around the globe as our relationship with Intermed shows,” says Tarek J. Gharbia, head of the International Trade and Settlements Division at Bank of Palestine.

In addition to Bank of Palestine,IFC provides trade finance support to Al Rafah Microfinance Bank to further stimulate private sector growth in West Bank and Gaza. Since its inception in 2005, IFC’s trade finance program has issued 146 guarantees worth $16 million to Bank of Palestine and Al Rafah. 

IFC’s guarantees support the import of machinery, agricultural goods, iron and steel, and medical equipment to the West Bank and Gaza, where the shifting security situation often makes foreign firms hesitant to enter into large trade deals with businesses based in the territories. 

IFC’s backing extends and comple­ments banks’ capacities to deliver trade finance, providing risk mitigation on a per-transaction basis in challenging markets where trade lines may be limited. The program gives priority support to trade flows that promote critical sectors such as health care, agriculture, and energy efficiency, targets SME importers and exporters, and drives trade between emerging markets—particularly trade with IDA countries (the poorest developing markets as classified by the World Bank ).