Islamic trade finance body ITFC launches $850 mln coronavirus financing

RIYADH, April 2 (Reuters) - International Islamic Trade Finance Corp (ITFC) is providing $850 million in emergency financing to governments help cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, its chief executive said.

The ITFC’s mandate is to promote trade within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), whose 57 members countries are eligible its financing packages.

Funds from the “Rapid Response Initiative” will be used to meet needy OIC countries’ immediate healthcare requirements plus critical supplies of energy and food, Hani Salem Sonbol told Reuters.

He said some $300 million would be immediately available, and the rest deployed to help with the economic recovery once the epidemic was over.

He did not specify which OIC states would be beneficiaries, but suggested the impact of the outbreak would be far-reaching.

“Today, even the developed countries have issues with their healthcare capacity to absorb this kind of crisis, so you can imagine how this is affecting the less developed countries,” he said.

The financing will be “seed money” and is expected to scale up.

“From our experience, each dollar from ITFC can bring four or five dollars form the market and from our strategic partners, and many of them already expressed their willingness to come along,” he said in a telephone interview.

The Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB) is Jeddah-based ITFC’s largest shareholder with 36% of paid-up capital and Saudi Arabia is second with 16.1%.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad; editing by John Stonestreet