LONDON, ENGLAND — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the expansion of international trade with a facility to National Bank of Greece under the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Program (TFP).

The facility will help National Bank of Greece to scale up its trade finance activities, despite the financial market conditions, and  reaffirm itself as a prime trade partner, supporting trade activities of exporters, importers and distributors of imported goods in Greece, the EBRD said.

National Bank of Greece is the oldest and one of the largest banks in the country. The EBRD became a minority shareholder in November 2015 during the recapitalization of Greece’s four systemic banks in order to strengthen their capital base and to facilitate their transfer into private ownership.

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti signed the TFP agreement with National Bank of Greece during his first official visit to Athens on March 2.

“Supporting the expansion of trade finance in Greece is critically important for the revival of the country’s economy,” he said. “We are pleased to welcome National Bank of Greece into our Trade Facilitation Program and strengthen our cooperation with the bank also in the area of trade. The program will help National Bank of Greece to better meet its clients’ trade finance needs and further expand their activities which will benefit the whole economy.”

Leonidas Fragiadakis, chief executive officer of National Bank of Greece, said “National Bank of Greece, which has the lowest loan-to-deposit ratio among Greek banks, continues to finance the economy by developing new tools and partnerships with the aim of revitalizing economic activity. NBG thanks the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the trust the EBRD has shown in us as the frontline bank in Greece, entering into a strategic partnership with us: We are ready to use our expertise and long-standing tradition in trade finance for the successful implementation of the program. This will provide a lift to small and medium enterprises.”

The EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Program, launched in 1999, aims to promote foreign trade to, from and among the countries where the EBRD invests.

Through the program, the EBRD provides guarantees to international confirming banks and short-term loans to selected banks and factoring companies for on-lending to local exporters, importers and distributors.

The TFP currently includes over120 partner banks in 25 countries where the EBRD invests, with limits exceeding €1.5 billion in total, and more than 800 confirming banks worldwide.

The EBRD started investing in Greece in 2015 on a temporary basis with the goal to support the country’s recovery from its current economic crisis, EBRD said.