ITFA AFRICA REGIONAL COMMITTEE NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 2, AUGUST 2018



EDITORIAL – Professor Benedict Okey Oramah, President of the African Export Import Bank

Dear colleagues and friends,

We are now only a few days away to the 2018 ITFA Conference in Cape Town. This will mark the high point of the 2017/18 ITFA Year of Africa, which was spearheaded by ITFA’s Africa Regional Committee (ITFA ARC). It certainly represents a very exciting time, not only for the members of the ITFA ARC, but also for the ITFA community in general. All of us at Afreximbank are very pleased with this development as we see the world of trade finance focusing on Africa and on the great work being done by Africa’s trade financiers.

When the ITFA ARC was set up in November last year, its mission was simple – to spread the word to as many African trade financiers as possible and to encourage them to take their rightful place in ITFA’s ever-growing family. Nine months later, ITFA now enjoys a level of visibility in Africa that the organisation never had in the past and has already undertaken numerous Africa-focused initiatives that added real value to the continent’s trade finance community. Moreover, coming from a rather low (but active and driven) membership base in Africa, new members were welcomed from countries as diverse as Nigeria, Angola, Tanzania and also Liberia, Sierra Leone and Malawi.

This is a great achievement, and I am proud of the role played by Afreximbank in accomplishing it. As the Regional Co-host of the ITFA Annual Conference in Cape Town, and as an active member of the ITFA ARC, we made a significant contribution to this increase in membership by reaching out to hundreds of African financial institutions to tell them about ITFA and to encourage them to join the Association.

Notwithstanding the work undertaken to grow ITFA in Africa, ITFA’s actions in the continent were not restricted to growing its membership. As such, the Association was also very focused on its goal of disseminating trade finance knowledge, both via ITFA-led sessions within the most important regional trade finance events, and via dedicated educational seminars and publications.

I was naturally delighted that the Afreximbank Annual Structured Trade Finance Seminar, held in November 2017 in Cape Verde set the stage for a thriving educational agenda, as we hosted ITFA’s thought- provoking session focused on its traditional topics of trade finance risk distribution and forfaiting. Given the fact that we are also setting up a formidable Forfaiting department at Afreximbank, we are grateful for the knowledge sharing, which will also allow us to interact more closely with a better-informed African banking sector on this interesting subject.

The ITFA Year of Africa agenda then progressed with two critical ITFA ARC-led initiatives – the publication of the first ITFA ARC newsletter in April, which started an effort to increase awareness about African trade finance across the ITFA membership; and the very first ITFA ARC educational seminar, held in May in Nairobi, on the back of the Global Trade Review East Africa Trade and Commodity Finance Conference, with over 70 attendees.

As we gather in Cape Town in a few days for our much anticipated ITFA Annual conference, I hope we can use the platform to discuss how best to build on the tremendous progress made in the past year so that our Association can be stronger not only in Africa but also globally.

Finally, I hope you will find this second issue of the ITFA Newsletter informative and enjoyable. I would also like to wish you all safe travels to Cape Town where I hope you will enjoy the best of Africa’s hospitality.

FIRST ITFA ARC EDUCATIONAL SEMINAR, MAY 2018 – NAIROBI – Duarte Pedreira, ITFA ARC Chairman / Head of Trade Finance at Crown Agents Bank

The 23rd May 2018 marked the date of the very first ITFA Africa Regional Committee (ITFA ARC) led trade finance educational seminar, which took place at the Radisson Blu Upper Hill Hotel in Nairobi, immediately after the Global Trade Review 2018 East Africa Trade and Commodity Finance Conference.

Further to the big success of the 2018 GTR East Africa conference (which had the largest attendance in its history), the ITFA Seminar that followed further raised the bar by congregating over 70 delegates who were keen to learn more about ITFA and the trade finance topics we promote.

The seminar started with an introduction to the International Trade and Forfaiting Association, the Africa Regional Committee, and of course, the Year of Africa initiative and the Cape Town Conference by ITFA’s board member Duarte Pedreira. We were delighted to see how well participants reacted to the topic and how keen everyone was to become part of our growing family.

The actual seminar programme itself kicked off with Louis du Plessis from Rand Merchant Bank taking participants through the concepts of risk distribution as a tool to deepen and enhance the volumes of trade finance being done in the African continent. This naturally included some focus on our origins as an association with the topic of forfaiting being explored in some detail, together with other more contemporary risk distribution techniques, such as risk participations.

Simon Cook from Sullivan and Worcester subsequently took his place on the main stage and, following on from Louis’ topics, took participants through the Master Risk Participation Agreement and its various technical aspects, as well as its future evolution as a key tool to enhance risk distribution. Simon then took the audience through another of ITFA’s key current topics, the IFRS9 and its impact on banking assets, something that had also been debated throughout the preceding GTR conference.

Alastair McLeod from JLT was the next presenter and took participants through credit and political risk insurance, focusing not only on the basics, but also on why the product works and why its use should be encouraged, particularly in an African context. Nowadays credit insurance has undoubtedly taken a central role within the risk distribution toolbox and it is important that it’s use is further encouraged in Africa, in line with the efforts made by companies such as Africa Trade Insurance, for example.

Finally, the seminar ended with Duarte Pedreira taking the stage once again to talk about structuring and its importance as a potential solution for the most discussed trade finance gap. He discussed with the audience how the perceived lack of creditworthiness of counterparties and difficulties in creating adequate collateral structures were seen as being critical drivers of that gap, and how a good in-depth knowledge of clients’ operations and business models could lead to trade financiers taking more comfort from collateral sources such as goods, receivables and transactional cash, which are inherently better linked to the risk profile of trade finance transactions.

All in all, this was a very encouraging and successful first educational seminar, which prompted very good feedback from participants all around, leaving the ITFA ARC members with the certainty that we should invest more time going forward in promoting similar initiatives.

Finally, we would like to thank our partners at the Global Trade Review, who have consistently supported ITFA and our key initiatives. GTR went out of its way to ensure this first educational seminar was the success that it was, and not only did they kindly offered the space and equipment for the event, but were also absolutely key in getting the word out to ensure we would have a good number of attendees. How successful can an initiative of this nature be without participants? So, a big thank you to GTR, hoping our partnership can continue for many years.

AN OVERVIEW OF CERTAIN LEGAL AND REGULATORY ISSUES FOR TRADE FINANCE IN AFRICA – Simon Cook, ITFA ARC Member and Partner at Sullivan & Worcester

The topic of legal and regulatory issues affecting the trade finance market in Africa is extremely wide-ranging. The following therefore is intended merely to provide an overview of certain issues affecting the African market, including:

1. a brief overview of the different types of legal regimes that exist across Africa;
2. a look at some issues around taking security and some practical and procedural matters that affect the implementation and operation of trade finance    transactions; and
3. a look at some regulatory issues and what can be/is being done to improve the situation on the ground.

Differing legal regimes

A number of different legal regimes apply across the continent, the background to which is by and large historical, often being heavily influenced by the laws of the colonial powers that once operated there. On the one hand, you have the common law based jurisdictions comprising, for example, much of East Africa, parts of Southern Africa as well as Nigeria and Ghana where English law is the dominant influence. On the other, you have the civil law based jurisdictions including for example the Francophone countries in West Africa and parts of Central Africa and the Lusophone countries of Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and Sao Tome, where the legal framework has its basis in French and Portuguese law respectively.

Not all countries in Africa fit into these categories however. A number of countries are influenced by a mixture of laws. Rwanda, for example, combines both a Belgian civil law influence with English common law traits (which are becoming increasingly prevalent there) whilst the laws in South Africa and Zimbabwe reflect both their Dutch and English law origins. Lastly, when you look at North Africa, the laws there display characteristics of both the laws of other Arabic countries and either French or English law.

Whilst not specific to any particular country, it is also worth noting two other relevant sources of law. Namely, the increasing influence (albeit unofficially for the most part) of Sharia/Islamic law principles and the creation of OHADA. As regards the former, this is not only the case in North Africa, but it is also becoming more and more relevant, for example, in parts of East Africa and Nigeria where there is a significant and growing Muslim population. As for OHADA, this is an organisation which was established in 1993 with the intention of providing a framework for the implementation of legislation across the member states (originally 14 countries, but currently 17, predominantly in West Africa). It is based on the French civil law model and is heavily influenced by French procedural laws. Its laws have direct effect in the member states and there is a supranational court in the Ivory Coast for proceedings relating to OHADA laws to try to ensure consistency of application across member states. Over recent years, the OHADA system has recognized certain benefits of operating within a more anglophone style framework and has brought in laws to allow certain goods to be held under an agency arrangement on behalf of a group of potentially changing financiers akin to the concept of a “security trust”.

There are marked differences in approach between the common law and civil law based systems, with the latter for example being more debtor friendly and more prescriptive in matters relating to procedure and the taking and perfecting of security, all of which can affect the types of financings commonly seen in the trade and forfaiting markets. The important point to note here is that with over 50 countries in Africa applying a number of different styles of legal regime, there is no single approach to looking at legal and regulatory issues. Precisely the opposite in fact and, whilst many of the issues are familiar to those with experience of English and other European laws, it is crucial to engage with counsel in the jurisdictions relevant to a financing to ensure not only that all the applicable issues are noted in good time but also that the correct interpretation is received.

Some legal considerations

Taking security

The typical security in trade transactions is security over all or a combination of the following assets:

• physical assets/commodities;
• transportation/storage documents (including bills of lading and, in some case, warehouse warrants);
• contractual rights/receivables; and
• banks account(s).

When taking security over physical assets, this is likely to be onshore and therefore governed by local law. The same fundamental principle for taking this type of security applies whether you are in a common law or civil law environment in Africa, namely that the party with the benefit of the security must have possession (actual or constructive). However, where a transaction is reliant on security over physical assets on a revolving basis or over future physical assets, this is one area where a distinction between common law and civil law jurisdictions arises. Generally speaking, in English common law based jurisdictions (for example, Tanzania and Kenya), the security need be taken only once and it will apply to future or revolving assets as they come into existence provided the possessory criteria is met. There is no need for additional documentation. In civil style jurisdictions, however, it can be a little more complicated.

In Mozambique, for example, it is necessary to renew a pledge each time future or revolving assets come into existence. This may require a new security document to be entered into with the practical issues of re-execution as well as re-registration and stamping with the associated costs. Even where this is not the case, at the very least a formal written process for asset identification is required of the parties to ensure the future/revolving assets come within the terms of the pledge which, if nothing else, can be administratively burdensome.

In DRC, it is necessary in some circumstances to take a lease over land on which pledged goods are located. Often warehousers are able to assist in the taking of security over warehoused goods, though this only works if the warehouser is independent so as to give the bank constructive possession. Independent warehouses are not as common in parts of Africa as elsewhere and therefore achieving possession can be difficult unless a collateral manager is involved to oversee the storage of the relevant goods. This, however, comes at a cost and may not always be practical especially if goods are up country or the volumes involved don’t merit the associated costs of the collateral management. One other issue associated with security over warehoused goods is the question of co-mingling. In many if not all of the common law based jurisdictions, co-mingling of the same type/grade of goods should not by itself have an adverse impact on a security interest over part of those goods provided that the aggregate volume of co-mingled goods was no greater than the volume of goods purported to be secured under all relevant security interests taken. This, however, is not the case under the laws of most civil law jurisdictions where there is likely to be an adverse impact, especially if the goods are co-mingled with other goods owned by the grantor of the security.

As part of a typical export-based transaction sourced out of countries without port access, it is common for goods to be transported across a number of countries before they are exported. This is important as a significant number of countries in Africa are landlocked or have inadequate port facilities. This creates a number of issues when structuring financings, not least of which is how to take security over the goods in transit across potentially multiple borders. Not only will the goods be located in different countries during transportation but there won’t be any document of title representing the goods. Which governing law do you choose? How do you keep “possession” of the goods? The short answer is that it is so difficult, impractical and costly to achieve continuous security in this scenario that parties commonly don’t try to do so. Instead they focus on control, for example through a collateral manager or even the transporter, until such time as effective more easily implemented security is available at the end of the transit period. During the interim, arrangements with FCRs or other transportation documents may be possible. After this, it may perhaps be in a warehouse at the port or on board ship when bills of lading would be issued. In the latter case, the lender can take security over those documents and the goods on board ship and, in most cases, this would be done by way of an English law pledge.

In terms of receivables, there are also differences in treatment depending on the jurisdiction(s) involved. The main two points to note here are the ability or otherwise to take security over future receivables and the procedural requirements relating to perfection of security. At the risk of generalising, it is fair to say that most civil based systems don’t allow the taking of security over future receivables. This is equally true of those countries where there is an Arabic influence such as in most of North Africa. This is not surprising given it is consistent with the principles discussed above in relation to taking security over a revolving set of physical goods and means that steps need to be taken each time a new set of receivables arise which is intended to be caught by the security. These steps range from new security being required each time in certain jurisdictions whilst, in others, a hybrid approach requires written documentation, falling short of a new security interest, being effected by the parties to identify the new receivables and confirm they are subject to the security already in place. As with revolving assets, this may result in re-registration requirements with the associated costs that that entails.

Likewise, there are additional procedural requirements for perfecting security over receivables in many civil law jurisdictions. For example, Francophone and Luosphone jurisdictions almost always require notices of assignment of receivables to be served through an official – the equivalent of the French huissier or bailiff. It is also necessary to achieve a date certain on the notice of assignment so as to ensure it is enforceable against the assignor. This is in contrast to the approach applying in the common law jurisdictions where it is only necessary to be able to evidence the fact that notice is given either through an acknowledgement of the notice by the debtor or by delivery being recorded (for example, delivery by registered post or courier).

Another potential issue in some civil law jurisdictions is the inability to obtain certain types of security interests. For example, the trust concept does not usually exist in civil law jurisdictions in the same way as it does in common law jurisdictions. As a result, creating structures which rely on trusts (for example, trust receipts) is unlikely to provide the comfort intended. Also, floating security is difficult in a number of countries – Benin for example has particular difficulties with this concept – meaning that taking security over a variety of assets is costly and time-consuming as different security documents for different types of assets would be needed, each having to be stamped and registered.

Notarisation/legalisation

As mentioned, civil jurisdictions tend to have a lot of formalities and procedural requirements and civil jurisdictions in Africa are no different. However, in an African context, it is not only those jurisdictions but also many common law jurisdictions that suffer from this. One area affecting civil and common law systems which causes logistical and cost issues is the requirement in certain circumstances for documentation to be notarised and/or legalised. The requirement may arise from the fact that a document needs to be registered and therefore must be notarised (mainly an issue in civil systems) but it may also arise as a result of the execution process itself. If a party is signing under a power of attorney, that power of attorney may have to be notarised. This is common in Arabic countries in particular but also some Francophone and Lusophone jurisdictions. It is even a practical requirement in some common law countries such as Uganda and Tanzania. Whilst not strictly a legal requirement to have corporate authorities notarised and/or legalised, the registrars there have refused to register security in the past if this was not provided since they wished to confirm the validity of the corporate authority. This is not part of their role, but from a practical perspective it is best to find out first and do as requested rather than try to argue the point.

In many jurisdictions, both civil law and common law, if execution is to take place outside of the country of the obligor (where the lender would be looking to enforce), then it is often necessary to have the document notarised and then to have that notarisation process authenticated through ministries and embassies in the country where execution took place and the country of the obligor in order for it to be enforceable in the latter. This can be a time-consuming and costly process with the only alternative being for signatories to travel to signing meetings in the obligor’s country to avoid the requirement. However, if there are multiple obligors in multiple jurisdictions, you cannot all sign in one country. In that situation, analysis is needed to see what the best options are and local counsel would need to be involved otherwise it could be potentially a very costly exercise.

Enforcement

The usual questions regarding enforcement arise in an African context as they do anywhere else in the emerging markets. What is the best way to enforce in an African context? Is it better to arbitrate or should you submit to the jurisdiction of the courts? Can you enforce foreign judgments? What specific enforcement procedures will apply in country? How long will it take and how costly will it be?

There are a number of considerations when deciding whether to arbitrate or go through the courts. Whilst there are some countries in Africa that are not party to the New York Convention 1958 (the “Convention”), including Libya, the majority of countries are party to it and therefore would in principle enforce foreign arbitral awards. Obviously for those countries which are not party to the Convention, you are likely to be better served going through the courts so that you can enforce locally. However, where both options would work, other matters are relevant. For example, can you enforce foreign judgments in the relevant country or, if not, will the local courts apply English law as the chosen law? As regards English judgments, there are certain countries that will in principle enforce them (most of the Anglophone jurisdictions, Mozambique, Morocco and Egypt for example). However, there are also a few others (Zambia for instance) that would not usually do so. Most jurisdictions, though, would apply English law were any action on an English law document to be taken in the local courts, but there are nevertheless likely to be linguistic and other logistical issues outside of English speaking Africa.

In the common law jurisdictions, and in Morocco/Egypt, self-help remedies are available including private sales of secured assets. In the civil jurisdictions and in the rest of North Africa though, this isn’t the case as a general rule even to the extent of requiring public auction sales of secured assets in most cases. On the other hand, arbitration can be very expensive depending on what rules are agreed for the arbitration. Also, there is no equivalent of the summary judgment option available through the courts, at least in common law jurisdictions, so you tend to have to go through the same process and timelines irrespective as to the nature of the dispute. This means that some matters can be dealt with more quickly and cheaply through the courts, whilst others will be easier and cheaper if arbitration is used, especially where tight but reasonable timelines and evidential processes are incorporated into the arbitration process. As ever, the question of courts vs arbitration needs to be considered on a case by case basis.

Some regulatory issues

Exchange controls

In terms of FX controls (the ability to control and potentially block the transfer of hard currency offshore), it is fair to say that there is a real cross-section of positions on this. Whilst there are very few countries in Africa that have no FX controls (Egypt is one however), there are a number of countries (in particular the rest of North Africa) where the rules are not really aimed at foreign investors and the requirement is more one of registration than formal analysis and approval. These rules are that prohibitive and the intention there tends to be to stop the flight of cash by the indigenous population rather than prevent lenders being repaid. A third category are those countries that require formal approval and the difficulty or otherwise of getting the approval varies from country to country. It is a relatively straightforward process in South Africa for example (though only certain domestic authorised parties can carry out this process for offshore lenders) but incredibly inefficient and difficult in Angola. In some cases, such as Mozambique and Malawi, a form of pre-approval is required in certain circumstances, potentially delaying the signing of finance documentation for weeks or longer so the impact can be quite significant from a timing perspective.

Stamp duty/registration

The position regarding stamp duty and registration fee levels across Africa also provide a wide spectrum. In some cases, such as Tanzania and Zambia, the level of these costs is nominal. However, in some cases, such as Nigeria, the level can be very high to the extent that certain security may not be taken or may not be stamped at the time it is taken. Angola has relatively recently changed the level so has improved its situation but it is still at the higher end of the range. Most countries fall into the middle ground of having either stamp duty or registration fees (it is very rare to have both of these amounts calculated on an ad valorem basis) at a level between 0.1% and 0.9%. This is one area where there isn’t really and distinction between common law and civil systems with, for example, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda, Benin and the Ivory Coast all coming in within this range.

As ever, borrowers will try to minimise stamp duty payments and in some cases it is possible either to upstamp or defer the time of payment of stamp duty. Local advice should always be taken on a case by case basis as even within the same country different rules may apply to different documents. There are even requirements in a couple of cases (Tanzania and Uganda for instance), where the facility agreement itself may be subject to stamp duty in certain circumstances.

Improvements coming?

There are a number of initiatives across the continent at the moment to alleviate some of the issues referred to in this article. I said that Angola had relatively recently revised its stamp duty requirements downwards and many other countries are currently looking at doing the same thing to try to make financing their corporates more straightforward and less costly. Other countries are looking at a series of changes to their warehousing laws to make warehouse financing more viable and to allow better financing terms to go further up the chain perhaps even to the farmers direct. The ideas being considered are the implementation of warehouse receipts programmes, the establishment of commodity exchanges (where countries are currently looking to follow the success in Ethiopia and Ghana in this area) and the use of electronic warehouse documentation.

In other jurisdictions, the authorities are looking at allowing more self-help remedies to be available and also to move more towards private sales on enforcement rather than cumbersome (and potentially less economic) public auction sales. A general streamlining of court processes and inefficiencies are also an on-going project in a number of countries, both common law and civil law jurisdictions. This will all take time though so for the moment, it is a case of working with current systems but watch this space.

Some final thoughts

There are a lot of misconceptions about the difficulties of doing business in Africa. Certainly it is not without its issues as I have alluded to in this article, but it is after all a large and diverse group of emerging market countries and dealing with these types of issues is part and parcel of working in these types of markets. From a legal perspective, it is no more difficult (and in many cases a lot easier) than doing trade finance business in other emerging markets. The legal regimes are generally sound, if somewhat prone to burdensome procedural requirements in places, and there are traps for the unfamiliar. However, there is a lot of positive news – many more institutions are focusing on Africa especially given the difficulties elsewhere in the world and there is much there that needs financing in Africa. There is a huge need for infrastructure and processing capacity and the value chain needs financing all the way up to the producers/farmers. The types of potential risks and the deal processes are the same in Africa as they are for any other emerging market, but with proper due diligence and structuring. there ought not to be too much cause for concern.

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESPONSIBLE INVESTING – SHOULD WE AS TRADE FINANCE PRACTITIONERS BE DOING MORE? – Ian Henderson, ITFA ARC Member and Senior Portfolio Manager, Trade Finance – Asset Management at Gulf International Bank (UK) Limited

The annual ITFA conference is taking place in Cape Town and the role of trade finance and forfaiting in Africa is a prominent item on the agenda. Globally the trade finance gap is growing but in Africa this is clearly evident with the withdrawal of numerous correspondent banking lines and diminishing international bank activity in African trade finance. The African Development Bank, Afreximbank and a few other multi-laterals and DFI’s continue to launch new programs and expand their activities across the continent. There are alternative lenders and trade finance funds with African focussed strategies providing much need trade finance to SME’s in Africa. However, in global trade and in Africa, the need to attract new capital from institutional investors to substantially reduce the trade finance gap is becoming more and more critical.

Trade Finance by its very nature is involved directly in the real economy to facilitate the movement of goods and the development of communities. This direct involvement across the supply chain means that significant opportunities are present in trying to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (“SDG’S”).

Prior to the release of the UN’s SDG’s, the UN supported Principles for Responsible Investing was launched in 2006. Today there are 1514 signatories to the PRI representing assets under management of US$89,653 billion (UN PRI 2018 Annual Report). The PRI initiative sets out six guiding principles for how investors should manage their assets and defines responsible investment as “an approach to investment that explicitly acknowledges the relevance to the investor of environmental, social and governance factors, and of the long-term health and stability of the market as a whole”. ESG is a term that is used to describe a group of risks – environmental, social and governance – that are explicitly acknowledged and integrated into the investment research and decision-making process.

If we as trade finance practitioners, regardless of which institution, company or fund we represent, are to attract institutional investors to fund and participate in trade finance, we need to bring ESG and sustainability to the forefront of our activities.

Responsible Investing (RI) can be defined as an investment strategy which seeks to generate both financial and sustainable value, and fully integrates environment, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment management. From what was once seen as a fringe interest, sustainability issues have gained prominence among global investors and across asset classes.

There are large global banks actively involved in trade finance that have extensive ESG policies and sustainability mechanisms built in to their lending and banking operations. A number of African based and owned banking institutions also have good ESG policies and sustainability management systems in place (African Development Bank, Afrexim, First Bank of Nigeria, Ecobank, First Rand Group, etc.). Most of the trade finance funds have ESG or impact reporting policies in place.

Sustainability is relevant to all companies. It helps ensure their long-term viability. It also establishes a triple bottom line that seeks to improve social and environmental value along with financial return. Sustainability does not inhibit—in fact, it improves— a company’s ability to create value. A clear business case can be made for sustainability and superior ESG practices. They lead to superior operational performance and lower cost of capital.

As trade finance practitioners actively engaged with SME’s and corporates we need to drive the implementation of ESG at the operating level. This has the impact of improving governance, increasing transparency, eradicating child and slave labour, improving gender equality, increasing skills and ultimately going a long way towards meeting the UN SDG’s.

The cost of compliance and on-boarding new customers is a major threat to growing trade finance flows in Africa. By addressing ESG factors this aspect of doing business and providing trade finance will become easier as the SME’s and corporates will be better prepared and equipped to provide the increasing level of documentation and governance materials.

If we do incorporate ESG and implement it in daily trade finance activities, where would this fit from a corporate objective perspective? Each organisation and trade finance provider is different but this adoption of ESG could be at a Responsible Investing level through to a full Impact level. Please see below a diagram of the continuum of investment capital to illustrate this further:

The development of ESG into trade finance and the implementation with borrowers requires a top-down approach from trade finance providers and borrowers in return should start placing demands on their trade finance lenders for recognition if ESG is part of their business model. This has started to happen in Asia where a number of trade finance loans have been made based on Green Loan Principles and preferential pricing has been agreed.

The ability to report and audit ESG factors does require additional resources but with the rapid development of tradetech and fintech solutions, independent verification and self-certification will become more streamlined and integrated.

Trade Finance is the perfect tool to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that are present to meet the UN SDG’s and in order to attract more capital into the asset class all players need to embrace ESG for the benefit of all.