CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE – Sean Edwards, ITFA Chairman / Head of Legal at SMBC

Dear Members and Friends,

On behalf of the ITFA Board, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Happy New Year and all the very best for 2019. May the year ahead bring good health, peace and happiness.

With a new year, comes a new list of ITFA events, and I can proudly say that each year our list gets longer and longer, as we get busier and busier. The 2019 Events Calendar can be viewed on the ITFA website and is updated on an ongoing basis. Click here to find out more information about the various events being organised during the course of the year.

In the meantime, the ITFA team is busy planning our flagship annual event – the 46th International Trade and Forfaiting Conference which will be held in Budapest, Hungary between 4-6 September 2019. We are currently working on the programme which will include sessions on focused and relevant market issues including developments in fintech, supply chain finance and insurance, amongst others. If you wish to sponsor this event please contact us on Various packages are available to suit different budgets. So please do get in touch – we will be happy to hear from you!

Back to the markets…EM economies throughout last year were characterised by the geopolitical tensions arising from the US-China trade war; tensions which pushed investors to re-allocate their assets into safer havens, such as the Japanese Yen and the U.S. dollar. The latter continued to put pressure on EM which were harshly beaten to levels that haven’t been seen in a decade. In addition, there were specific risks which investors feared would cause contagion to other regions. Indeed, the Argentinian fiscal saga and Turkey were the draggers for the broader EM regions.

Brazil, however, was boosted with the victory of Bolsanaro, the candidate which markets were happy with given the limited choice. EM were penalised in 2018 from a significantly stronger dollar, so some form of dollar stability or at best, some weakness in the dollar, would be welcomed by EM economies in 2019. This is a possible scenario only if there will be a trade war. The fear of trade war has started to bite, with a set of relatively soft data figures from China.

In the very first edition of 2019, you will be able to read and additionally view a video in which Grace Loran – associate professor in behavioural science at the London School of Economics – was invited as a guest speaker at the latest GTR Women in Trade Finance event held in London last November. André Casterman, ITFA Board Member and Chair of the ITFA Fintech Committee, provides an interesting read entitled ‘’Fintechs working together for Good: Data Technology and Machine Learning help Trade Originators upgrade Credit Scoring and increase SME Financing’’. Ian Henderson, Gulf International Bank (UK) Ltd, also contributes to this edition with his article ‘’Sustainability and Responsible Investing – Trends and Observations changing the ESG Landscape in 2019’’.

ITFA is delighted to announce that four new institutions will be joining as members; Stern Bank, Societe Generale, UBI Banca and Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad (BIDB).

May I take the opportunity to thank all our members, associates, partners and sponsors for their support in 2018. Your contribution is highly valued. Should any members wish to contribute to our website by becoming website sponsors, please send an email to

We look forward to hearing from you with any feedback you may want to share with us by sending an email to myself, any of the Board Members or to our general email,

Best wishes

Sean Edwards