Kathmandu, July 31 The Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Trade Finance Programme (TFP) and Laxmi Bank Ltd, a leading bank in Nepal, have signed an agreement to provide loans and support trade in the country. ADB’s TFP has been operating in Nepal since 2009 and currently works with two local partner banks. Till date, the programme has conducted more than 200 transactions in Nepal, supporting $82 million in trade, and benefiting more than 80 SMEs in a wide range of sectors, including agricultural commodities, construction materials and machinery, solar panels, and textiles, as per a media release. During the signing ceremony, ADB Investment Specialist and Relationship Manager for Nepal, Janet Hyde said, “This new facility will assist the country’s reconstruction efforts by supporting trade flows into the country, especially those involving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).” Backed by ADB’s AAA credit rating, TFP provides guarantees and loans to over 200 partner banks to support trade, enabling more companies throughout Asia and the Pacific to engage in import and export activities. Laxmi Bank, established in 2002, serves a wide range of customers through its branches and a host of IT-enabled channels. Despite a relatively short history, Laxmi Bank has emerged as a major player across all business lines — retail, midmarket, corporate, infrastructure, and treasury. Laxmi Bank’s network includes 110 branches across 48 districts, two extension counters and four hospital service counters, 131 ATMs, 2,500 remittance agents, and 58 branchless banking agents spread across the country.