USCIB Weighs in With Administration on Trade Deficits

With the Trump administration seeking to reorient U.S. trade policy toward bilateral agreements, bilateral trade deficits have been put forward as a marker of the health — or lack thereof — of U.S. commercial relations with a given country. USCIB has taken up this issue in a recent statement to the Department of Commerce.

In its statement, USCIB said: “On the specific issue of trade deficits, particularly bilateral deficits (or surpluses) with individual countries, USCIB supports the view of most mainstream economists, who are convinced that trade deficits are a product of broader macroeconomic factors, not trade policy, and that the trade balance should not be viewed as a straightforward indicator of a country’s economic health. While it is useful to address trade barriers that impede access for U.S. goods and services exporters to specific markets, we should not set up bilateral trade balances as the metric of successful trade policies.”

Furthermore, the USCIB statement argued for greater attention to trade in services, not just goods, in any analysis of trade balances. “In the United States, services account for almost 80% of GDP, and services jobs account for more than 80% of private sector employment,” USCIB said. “Accordingly, a trade policy focused solely on trade deficits in manufacturing is misleading.”

The Commerce Department is expected to hold hearings on trade deficits later this week.

New Compliance Guide for Trade Transactions Published

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Banking Commission, along with partners, the Wolfsberg Group and the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (BAFT) recently announced the publication of a revised guidance document on Trade Finance Principles. This broader industry edition now addresses the due diligence required by global and regional financial institutions of all sizes in the financing of international trade.

The document was updated to reflect the growing regulatory expectations, as well as the more stringent application of existing regulations faced by the industry today. The collaborative effort will help standardize the practice of financial crimes compliance for trade transactions.

The publication of this document is the culmination of more than two years of work undertaken by the organizations and their members.

“In keeping with the traditional work of the ICC Banking Commission, this guidance on sound financial crimes risk management for the traditional trade products follows in the steps of the UCP, URC etc. in setting standards by which banks should conduct their trade business and to provide a sound basis for the continuation of the finance of international trade by banks, said Olivier Paul, head of policy of the ICC Banking Commission.

You can download the paper here.

New Survey Finds Worsening Global Shortage of Trade Finance

2016 ICC Global Survey on Trade Finance shortfall_sourceBusiness executives have identified a sharp decrease in the availability of financing for cross-border trade, according to the latest annual survey of global trade finance from the International Chamber of Commerce. According to the survey — which received 357 responses from 109 countries worldwide — 61 percent of respondents reported a global shortage of trade finance . Only 52 percent of respondents reported an increase in trade finance activity, compared to 63 percent in 2015 and 80 percent in 2012. Furthermore, the perceived shortfall came predominantly from regional and global banks — 78 percent and 56 percent respectively, compared to 41 percent of national banks.

ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said: “We must emphasize the importance of trade finance. It is often forgotten – trade finance has dropped off the international agenda. We need to do more to communicate its central importance to the global economy.”

Read more and download the survey on the ICC website.


Business Urges Congress to Approve Ex-Im Bank Quorum Requirement

Money_globeUSCIB joined 14 other business associations urging Congress to approve the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank’s quorum requirement so that it may again review transactions over $10 million.

“While the Ex-Im Bank is back in operation and accepting new applications, it is prohibited from approving significant transactions because of the lack of a quorum on the Bank’s Board of Directors,” the business group wrote in a letter sent to Congressional leaders on September 12. “As a result, manufacturers and other exporters throughout the United States are at a significant disadvantage to global competitors who are aggressively supported by their own governments’ export credit agencies.”

The business associations argued that a fully operational bank would support millions of U.S. jobs by enabling companies to compete more successfully in the global economy. USCIB and others noted that the Bank is a vital tool in leveling the global playing field, helping American businesses secure new customers, particularly in emerging markets.

“With every passing day, businesses from the United States are missing out on new business opportunities overseas, to the detriment of local economies and American jobs. Congress can and must act swiftly,” USCIB and others wrote. “As associations representing millions of businesses throughout the United States, we urge you to move forward legislation as part of the Continuing Resolution that will enable Ex-Im to consider and act on all transactions immediately to boost America’s ability to compete globally.”

Read the full letter.

ICC Banking Commission Global Survey Highlights Impact of Trade Finance Gap on SMEs

Cover Page ICC Global Survey on Trade Finance 2015_sourceThe International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Banking Commission has released the results from its 2015 Global Survey on trade finance – highlighting the impact of the trade finance gap on SMEs, the impact of regulation on correspondent banking, as well as positive trade finance trends, particularly with regards to export finance.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are among the hardest-hit by the trade finance gap, reports the Global Survey on trade finance, released on September 29 by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Banking Commission. The Survey received 482 responses from 112 countries around the world and showed that SMEs account for nearly 53 percent of all rejected trade finance transactions. By contrast, 79 percent of the trade finance transactions for larger businesses are accepted.

The trade finance gap is highlighted throughout the Survey, citing compliance as a chief barrier to trade finance. Nearly 46 percent of the banks surveyed terminated correspondent relationships due to the cost or complexity of compliance, while 70 percent of respondents reported declining transactions due to AML/KYC requirements. Furthermore, the percentage of respondents citing anti-financial crimes compliance requirements as a significant impediment to trade finance has increased from 69 percent last year, to 80 percent in this year’s Survey. This trend is expected to continue, as nearly all (93%) of respondents expect compliance requirements to increase during 2015.

“The Global Survey works as a snapshot of market trends, allowing us to compare progress from previous years and gauge global expectations,” said Vincent O’Brien, chair of the ICC Banking Commission Market Intelligence. “This year that snapshot has highlighted the severity of the trade finance gap – which continues to be impacted by regulation, despite the low-risk nature of trade finance – and particularly its impact on SMEs. This is crucial given SMEs constitute over 95 percent of all firms and account for approximately 60 percent of employment worldwide.”

That said, the results from the Survey also show some positive trends in trade finance. Around 63 percent of respondents reported an increase in overall trade finance activity, with 61 percent of banks stating they have increased their capacity to meet trade finance. What’s more, 25 percent of respondents to the Global Survey on trade finance consider trade instruments supporting trade as involving more than 75 percent less inherent risk than conventional lending.

The results from the Global Survey also reflected positively on export finance, with 79 percent of respondents in the industry claiming it remains a profitable business. The industry also observed a significant decrease in pricing, and even more so, fees in 2014.

“While the trade finance industry is certainly facing challenges, and the trade finance gap is a clear issue, the results from the Global Survey on trade finance show that it is not all doom and gloom,” added O’Brien. “The financial landscape is recognizing the importance of trade and, in addition to banks stating they have increased capacity to meet trade finance, we have an array of alternative lenders – such as specialist financiers, export credit agencies, and multilateral development banks – stepping up to fill the trade finance gap.”

Daniel Schmand, chair of the ICC Banking Commission, said: “New players can prove their worth by addressing the shortfall of trade finance; new or alternative financiers may support trade in areas where banks are restricted by risk appetites, regulatory burdens or stakeholder concerns.”

Download the 2015 ICC Global Trade and Finance Survey.

ICC Launches Global Export Finance Committee

The launch of the ICC Global Finance Committee took place on September 7 in Barcelona, Spain.
The launch of the ICC Global Finance Committee took place on September 7 in Barcelona, Spain.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) launched the “ICC Global Export Finance Committee,” an export finance working group supported by many leading banks across the export finance industry.

Operating under the umbrella of the ICC Banking Commission, the committee is the first step towards building a real global export finance community – representing medium- and long-term (MLT) export finance banks.

The Global Export Finance Committee has three key objectives:
  1. To create a credible standing global discussion forum of banking experts in MLT export financing,
  2. To create a representative body to discuss industry matters with various stakeholders,
  3. To advocate for and help develop improvements and efficiencies through the standardization and harmonization of processes and regulations.

“The Global Export Finance Committee fills a much needed role in the export finance industry,” said Eric de Jonge, head of structured export finance at ING Bank, who chairs the working group. “It aims to not only act as a discussion forum and a body to exchange information and views on export finance but also to enable improvements and increase the efficiency of the processes and regulations governing the export financing industry as a whole.”

Although the export financing industry as a whole is relatively small, it serves an important purpose for OECD governments as well as governments in emerging markets, enabling and facilitating international trade and economic activity. Indeed, governments in many countries are exploring how they can more efficiently support exports, investments and trade.

Not only has the industry observed changes in regulatory requirements such as Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR) and Basel III, it also faces changes in the value chain concerning Export Credit Agencies (ECAs). These developments, together with the involvement of the capital markets, mean it is necessary for banks active across the industry to reach a common approach.

ICC has already made a first step towards reaching a common approach through the inclusion of MLT trade and export finance products in the influential ICC Trade Register Report. The dedicated Trade Register working group has successfully evolved into a platform of active banks that are responsible for ECAs, and that supports transaction data gathering.

While the Trade Register working group focuses primarily on data gathering, there are many more topics relevant to the export finance industry. Cooperation with ECAs, advocacy before governmental and regulatory bodies, standardization, and harmonization, as well as the exchange of views and data to the extent allowed under anti-competition laws, are just a few of the areas that can be explored further by the ICC Global Export Finance Committee.

Download ICC Global Export Finance PDF Document here

Launch of ICC Academy, a Premier Source for Professional Education

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organization for which USCIB serves as the American national committee, today launched the ICC Academy – setting a new standard for professional education. Based in Singapore and delivered via a digital platform, the Academy will provide rigorous, relevant and applicable business education – encouraging individuals to reach their highest potential with respect to professional competency and ethical conduct.

The Academy has been launched in partnership with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the government agency that promotes international trade and assists Singapore companies to internationalize. Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang joined ICC board members at the launch of the ICC Academy, which aims to enhance the expertise of practitioners across a wide range of business sectors.



“As the world’s business organization, ICC has long provided training and certification programs to help build business skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Terry McGraw, chairman of ICC (as well as USCIB) and chairman of McGraw Hill Financial [now S&P Global]. “We are taking this commitment to growing a skilled workforce and jobs globally to a new level with the launch of this Academy, which will be internationally recognized and accessible to all – in developed and developing countries.”

IE Singapore and ICC share a common vision to promote global trade. The former’s role is to establish Singapore as a global trading hub while the latter promotes open trade and investment and helps businesses worldwide meet the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly integrated world economy. The ICC Academy is a successful partnership milestone for both parties in nurturing global business leaders and experts. It will serve as a center of excellence and thought leadership for the global business community.

Taking full advantage of ICC’s extensive global network, the ICC Academy promotes the highest standards of excellence in global professional education – providing a wide range of specialized programs that are recognized worldwide. Courses are designed and taught by ICC’s unrivalled roster of experts and practitioners, incorporating insights from external senior business leaders and policymakers.

ICC Academy courses are delivered via a dynamic digital platform, using innovative tools to give the Academy global reach. The ICC Academy can therefore offer those in developing and remote regions the same access to world-class professional education as those in advanced economies – developing skills even in the most challenging locations.

“E-learning initiatives are being adopted as a means of maximizing educational budgets as well as expanding the potential breadth of audience – without compromising on the quality or depth of learning,” said ICC Secretary General John Danilovich. “Provided users have access to the Internet, distance learning means there will be no inequalities with respect to educational potential via the ICC Academy – no matter where an individual is situated.”

The use of a digital platform also allows ICC to centralize the Academy in one location: Singapore – an established international trade hub, underpinned by its strategic location and presence of a strong trading community. It is chosen as the location of the ICC Academy because of the country’s well-established ecosystem of business infrastructure, strong network of companies and large pool of skilled talent. The ICC Academy will further enhance this trade ecosystem.

Teo Eng Cheong, chief executive officer of IE Singapore, said: “The establishment of the ICC Academy global headquarters in Singapore is a testament to our role as an international trading hub. With a common mandate to promote international trade, IE Singapore and ICC can jointly contribute to growth of expertise and talent for the sector globally.”

The ICC Academy will draw on ICC expertise in specialist fields – starting with a faculty in banking and trade finance shaped by over 600 banking experts from 110 countries. The faculty features around 70 online courses and two global certificates in trade finance. Following this initial trade finance focus, the ICC Academy will broaden its scope – introducing new curricula, spanning all ICC competences from international law to anti-corruption.

ICC Academy website

USCIB Gives Feedback on OECD New Approach to Economic Challenges Project

L-R: Rick Johnston (Citi), David Mallet (Wells Fargo), Tom Molitor (Wells Fargo), Mathilde Mesnard (OECD), Peter Robinson (USCIB) and William Hynes (OECD).
L-R: Rick Johnston (Citi), David Mallet (Wells Fargo), Tom Molitor (Wells Fargo), Mathilde Mesnard (OECD), Peter Robinson (USCIB) and William Hynes (OECD).

USCIB and member representatives met with officials from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on January 22 at USCIB’s New York office to give feedback on the OECD’s New Approach to Economic Challenges (NAEC), aimed at updating the organization’s instruments and policy analyses.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson met with the main authors of the NAEC report, Mathilde Mesnard and William Hynes, along with member representatives from Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

The informal meeting gave USCIB an opportunity to provide member feedback and concerns at this stage of the NAEC project.

USCIB is the American affiliate of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), which acts as the voice of business in the OECD and has provided structured input to the NAEC project.

The OECD’s final synthesis report on its NAEC work will be delivered to OECD ministers in June 2015.


Global Trade Set to Benefit From ICC Trade Register Report

4762_image002It has long been anecdotally known that trade finance is a low risk for lenders. That claim now has a wealth of data to back it up. Today the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) released its 2014 Trade Register Report, providing overwhelming evidence that trade and export finance – in all its forms – is a low risk bank financing technique.

The report supports ICC’s and USCIB’s advocacy of trade finance as a strong contribution to economic recovery and growth. Its findings hold the potential to alter attitudes towards trade finance, and therefore contribute to the growth of both global trade and the global economy.

The Trade Register also highlights a concern about the effect overly-stringent money laundering regulations have on trade finance flows. Strict regulations have damaged access of some firms to trade and export finance services.

“The intention of the Register was to progress the understanding of trade finance, its importance to global trade and its highly-effective risk mitigation capabilities,” explained Kah Chye Tan, Chair of ICC Banking Commission. “The impact of the Register, however, is much greater. As the latest results show, the Register provides concrete fact-based evidence that trade finance is low risk which, if fully reflected in capital requirements, would help banks to give companies the financing support they need for their exports, and to contribute even further to the global economy as it recovers from the global financial crisis.”

The report’s findings may help policymakers understand the negative consequences such laws have on export finance, which is crucial for economic growth in the developing world.

First launched in 2009 by ICC’s Banking Commission, the report is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading analytical reports on global risks for the trade finance industry—identifying risks across a range of trade finance products and markets.

Read more on the ICC website.

ICC Flags up Concerns Over Effect of Money-Laundering Laws (Financial Times)

Staff contact: Eva Hampl

More on USCIB’s Banking Committee


SMEs Face Significant Financing Gap

Speaking at the World Trade Organization’s annual “aid-for-trade” review earlier this month, a representative of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) made a plea for added financing for cross-border trade.

ICC Senior Policy Manager Thierry Senechal said that trade finance intermediation is crucial today as it provides real-time risk mitigation, while improving liquidity and cash flow of the trading parties. It also gives localized small- and medium-sized enterprises much-needed access to credit and working capital to finance exports and imports.

Between 80 and 90 percent of global trade depends on some sort of trade finance, yet structural access issues, related to factors such as poorly-developed banking sectors or perceived country credit risk, continue to act as bottlenecks.

In remarks at the event, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said: “Overcoming existing skills gaps in developing countries can help them draw enhanced benefits from their participation in the multilateral trading system. These discussions have brought some key areas into focus, including access to finance — and trade finance in particular.”

Click here to read more on ICC’s website.

Staff contact: Eva Hampl

More on USCIB’s Banking Committee

ICC names Donald Smith New Banking Commission Technical Advisor

ICC announced earlier this month the appointment of three new technical advisors for its Commission on Banking – a leading global policy and rule-making body for the banking industry known worldwide for its trade finance products and services including Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits, the most successful privately drafted rules for trade ever developed.

These  include Donald Smith, president of Global Trade Advisory Ltd.

Smith has over 40 years’ experience in international banking operations and trade product management. He has been responsible for international operations for 4 banks. He served as senior project manager for the ICC’s 2011 Basel III Default Registry project which documented the level of risk in trade transactions; chaired the US Delegation to the ICC Banking Commission from 1998 to 2009 and co-chaired the drafting group which produced the ICC’s first International Standard Banking Practices (ISBP) publication. He presently serves on several ICC Task Forces. Read more on ICC’s website.