The global trading system is in disarray. Global economic growth is slowing, half the G20 are now operating under openly protectionist agendas, and tensions between China and the United States remain high – despite faint promise of a truce earlier this year. But over in the UK, all of this is overshadowed by the continuing dispute over Brexit. The nation is bitterly divided, and we are fast approaching what could constitute a national crisis.
There is, so far as I am aware, little or no precedent for what the UK is attempting to do: seeking to reduce unfettered access to its closest and most important market – which also happens to be one of the world’s two largest. In 2018, 46% of the UK’s exports went to the EU, and 54% of UK imports came from it. Almost all countries in the world try to make trade deals, not dismantle them.
Access to affordable trade finance is a condition of success in international trade, to the same extent as rapid clearance of customs and efficient transportation. For decades, successful companies in developed countries have benefitted from the existence of mature financial industries distributing high volumes of finance and guarantees at low rates. Trade finance is normally a high volume and low-cost source of finance, because the risk of default is small, with a global average of 0.2%, and little difference across countries.
International companies are facing the dual challenge of uncertainty and transformation in how they source, produce, transport, sell and trade their goods and services. The question is how can they get ahead of the curve and thrive in this changing environment.
To advance trade finance’s digital transformation, financial institutions and technology providers alike are ramping up efforts to cooperate through a number of consortiums. But, to ensure these various initiatives do not create a cluster of “digital islands”, a more joined-up approach is required.
Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) has been around for several years and has its roots in the world of cryptocurrencies, often referred to as Blockchain. Having brought some very interesting opportunities to the Banking market, attention was sparked in other industries such as Insurance, Healthcare, Shipping, Supply Chains, Manufacturing and Trade Finance.
Over the past 2-3 decades there have been many attempts to digitise parts of the trade and trade finance process, but it’s the complexity of trade that remains the challenge. Most successful attempts at digitisation have had to bite off a small piece of the problem and this has led to silos or what I call a ‘digital island’ phenomena.
Despite today’s climate of rising trade tariffs and falling trade volumes, UniCredit’s Global Head of Global Transaction Banking, Luca Corsini, claims we have reason to remain optimistic for trade finance revenues in the coming months, pointing to the rising need for security in trade transactions, the rise of digital platforms to simplify and expand service provision, and continued infrastructure development stemming from Asia
All global industries require standards. Remember what a huge step forward it was when the carrier industry agreed on the design for a shipping container. The same is true for electronic trade documents and their supporting systems.
TFG heard from Accenture’s Cecile Andre Leruste, on the major digitisation initiatives within the commodiy finance space. Commodity finance is in a phase of major transition, driven by multiple megatrends
In today’s geopolitical climate many foreign policy makers use sanctions or similar, steps such as the refusals to grant authorisations, to place economic pressure on governments, organisations and individuals.
TFG spoke to the leading trade, banking, forfaiting, factoring and open account industry bodies to get an update on the key projects, initiatives and milestones from 2019.
How can the UK ‘green’ its finance system? Meeting the Paris Agreement’s targets on greenhouse gas emissions is no easy feat. TFG spoke to Sir Roger Gifford, Chair of the UK Green Finance Institute, on how we can integrate climate science data and risk analysis into financial decision making to get sustainability at the forefront of the agenda for governments, banks and companies.
The next generation of technology-led financial services innovators are disrupting the industry in a big way, and TFG’s Deepesh Patel caught up with Natalie Ceeney CBE, Chair of Innovate Finance, at WCBI.
It has finally started to happen in Trade Finance business domain when it comes to application of emerging technologies helping to create new ways of approaching the old business processes. The old way of working has created many challenges for global trade in addition to political protectionism now also generating stress to exchange goods and services internationally. The additional challenges may be listed as lack of trust and true global interoperability as well as local and regional political agendas and regulations.