Trade finance represents the financial instruments and products that are used by companies to facilitate international trade and commerce. Trade finance makes it possible and easier for importers and exporters to transact business through trade. Trade finance is an umbrella term meaning it covers many financial products that banks and companies utilize to make trade transactions feasible.
How Trade Finance Works
The function of trade finance is to introduce a third-party to transactions to remove the payment risk and the supply risk. Trade finance provides the exporter with receivables or payment according to the agreement while the importer might be extended credit to fulfill the trade order.
The parties involved in trade finance are numerous and can include:
- Trade finance companies
- Importers and exporters
Trade financing is different than conventional financing or credit issuance. General financing is used to manage solvency or liquidity, but trade financing may not necessarily indicate a buyer’s lack of funds or liquidity. Instead, trade finance may be used to protect against international trade’s unique inherent risks, such as currency fluctuations, political instability, issues of non-payment, or the creditworthiness of one of the parties involved.
Financial instruments used in trade finance:
- Lending lines of credit can be issued by banks to help both importers and exporters.
- Letters of credit reduce the risk associated with global trade since the buyer’s bank guarantees payment to the seller for the goods shipped. However, the buyer is also protected since payment will not be made unless the terms in the LC are met by the seller. Both parties have to honor the agreement for the transaction to go through.
- Factoring is when companies are paid based on a percentage of their accounts receivables.
- Export credit or working capital can be supplied to exporters.
- Insurance can be used for shipping and the delivery of goods and can also protect the exporter from nonpayment by the buyer.
Although international trade has been in existence for centuries, trade finance facilitates its advancement. The widespread use of trade finance has contributed to international trade growth.
“Some 80 to 90 percent of world trade relies on trade finance…” – World Trade Organization (WTO)