The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has welcomed a new World Trade Organization (WTO) report which examines the urgent need to address the trade finance gap for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
In the new publication “Trade Finance and SMEs: bridging the gaps in provision” released on 4 May 2016, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo calls on partners to work with his organization to ensure that trade finance is no longer an obstacle to the internationalization of SMEs.
Responding to Mr Azevedo’s call to action, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said: “Access to trade finance is now seen as the single biggest barrier to SME growth. A longstanding partner of the WTO, ICC is taking urgent action to address this problem – including through the ICC Academy and our Banking Commission.”
The 2015 ICC Global Survey, cited widely in the new WTO report, showed that around 50% of all SME applications for trade finance are now rejected. Through its international outreach, ICC is actively taking steps to address the now chronic shortfall in trade finance in many developing economies-including through an active dialogue with G20 governments.
This issue was also a central theme of discussion at the 2016 annual meeting of the ICC Banking Commission – held in Johannesburg as part of a broader outreach strategy for ICC in Africa.
The role of capacity-building
The new WTO report places a particular emphasis on increasing capacity-building support for trade finance. Specifically, the WTO recommends that technical assistance must be enhanced with the support of donors to build capacity in local banking sectors. In doing so the report highlights the recently launched ICC Academy as a prime example of a new initiative with considerable potential to build skills around the financing of trade – including via training a new generation of trade finance specialists.
Launched in 2015, the ICC Academy provides rigorous, relevant and applicable business education to trade finance professionals and offers a wide range of specialized programmes that are recognized worldwide. The Academy has recently launched seven new e-courses ranging in topics from capital and pricing to distributor finance. Each course provides professionals worldwide with a fundamental and practical understanding of trade finance basics.
Enhancing intelligence in the trade finance market
The new report highlights how disruptions in trade finance markets are typically sudden, and that there is a lack of aggregate information available. In the absence of a complete set of hard statistics collected by public institutions, the report tasks ICC to pool various sources of information and surveys available in the annual ICC Global Survey and in the ICC Trade Register initiative.
The Survey provides an accurate snapshot of market trends and enables bankers, traders and government officials to gauge global trade expectations. ICC is once again seeking valuable insights for the 2016 edition of the Survey, and invites interested trade finance contributors to provide input via the online questionnaire.
Learn more about the ICC Banking Commission.