Monday 23 February 2015

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN - Paolo Provera, Chairman ITFA / General Manager ABC International Bank Plc, Milan Branch

Dear Members and Friends,

With the first month of 2015 already behind us, it is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I am writing this second newsletter of the year, as I am sure that the first half of 2015 will not only bring new challenges but will also provide us with a number of opportunities. 

As you are well aware, a number of ITFA delegates and members participated in last week’s GTR Mena Trade Finance Week which was held from 16th to 18th February, in Dubai. I am pleased to announce that this was yet another extremely fruitful event whereby our members had the opportunity to network with their fellow colleagues within the trade and forfaiting industry, and share their knowledge and experiences with local professionals.

This event was followed by the ITFA Cocktail Party which was a huge success as almost 150 attendees were able to enjoy some very good networking with Banks in the GCC region. On behalf of ITFA, I would like to thank all those members who attended and made this event possible, and I look forward to meeting other members at our future events. Please visit link to view pictures of the event.

As discussed during the cocktail, ITFA will be holding its Annual Conference in Dubai, at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, between the 28th and 30th of September. As per previous years, this event remains the perfect meeting place for institutions and companies alike, willing to establish new business relations, as well as consolidating the current ones. Thus we urge you to save the date. More details about the event will be provided in due course.

ITFA will continue to seek more opportunities to bring its members together through the organisation and attendance of educational courses and conferences. To this effect ITFA will also be present at this year’s GTR Africa Trade Finance Week 2015, which will be held in Cape Town between the 11th and 13th of March. For further information on this collaboration, please click here. We encourage our members to continue registering to and supporting these events, and of course wishing you luck for any free passes you might get as ITFA members.

On behalf of the Board, we will continue to strive to expand ITFA by reaching out to as many new members as possible and increasing its prominence, accessibility and visibility throughout the industry. In fact in the last month we are again pleased to announce that another three new members joined our growing family.

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 

Paolo Provera

Friday 6 February 2015

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: STILL THE POSTER CHILD OF TRADE FINANCE? By Christiane Heldermann - Executive Director DF Deutsche Forfait AG

Despite being based in a country where many exporters still shy away from doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa, this is one of the regions that saw the biggest increase in volume in the past couple of years. Double-digit growth rates and interesting returns on trade finance transactions made it one of the most attractive markets. And yet - the news are not always good. The past year has brought a decline in oil prices, weakened currencies, a massive outbreak of Ebola and political instability in many countries. So what gives us the confidence to continue doing business there? Let us have a closer look at two of the countries we are dealing with in the region.

The headlines at the beginning of last year that Nigeria had passed South Africa as the biggest economy on the continent were confirming the excellent performance of this country. The positive situation had long been reflected in the trade finance market. Even ongoing terrorist attacks in the Northern part of the country and crude thefts did not deter investors from being confident about the country risk. And also the outbreak of Ebola was just a short disruption as the problem was dealt with very efficiently. By October, the country was free of the threatening virus. But further bad news came with the drop in the oil price in a country where petroleum exports make up approx. 90 % of the total export earnings. 
In order to soften the effects, the Central Bank decided to devaluate the naira. The government cut spending by reducing the size of ministries, departments and agencies. New taxes were introduced (for example on luxury goods such as expensive cars and alcoholic beverages) and plans for an economical diversification are under development. 

But this time, the market is reacting: We see increased pricing in general, and lesser possibilities for medium term trade finance transactions from Nigeria. Also, it seems that some banks have suspended their country lines waiting for the outcome of the elections on February 14th

We have not slowed down our activities in the country and are still looking at tenors of up to three years as we feel the country has proven in the past years that it is able to deal with difficult situations. But the recent postponement of the elections was a surprise to the market, and it is going to be essential that Mr. Joanathon's promise to guarantee for ''credible elections'' will be kept. Assuming the elections will be finalised confirming the current economic path, the measures that have been taken seem appropriate and supportive of a recovery. The adjustment of the oil price in the 2015 budget combined with the other steps should strengthen the economy in the long perspective. We are looking at a country with a reformed and strong banking system and many interesting trade finance transactions.
Over the past years, Ghana has been a favourite country for companies and investors alike who were looking to expand into the West African markets. Political stability, a positive economic climate and a safe environment resulted in strong growth rates; the country generated stable incomes from commodity exports of cocoa, gold, and lately oil. But in the past months, Ghana has been in quite an up-and-down situation, the beginning of which can be seen in the salary increase of government employees started in 2010 that added up to more than 70% of tax revenues. An increased volatility in commodity markets, the latest decline in oil prices and an external debt burden took their toll. Facing a massive currency plunge of the cedi against the US dollar, Ghana had to turn to the IMF for assistance. 

But it looks like the country is able to make the turnaround. When the IMF returned to Ghana last November, it stated that “The budget includes some important measures to increase revenues, to eliminate distortive and inefficient energy subsidies, and to contain growth in Ghana’s comparatively high public wage bill. At the same time, the budget allows for maintaining public investment above 5% of GDP (…).” (Joel Toujas-Bernaté, IMF Press Release No. 14/532, Nov 21, 2014). There will be an IMF led reform program starting in the course of the year.

The market reacts positively to this development as confidence is back. While we still saw relatively high prices and restraint from investors at the beginning of last year, trade finance transactions with a short to medium term tenor are again very much sought after and pricing is becoming more competitive. 

ON THE MOVE by Silja Calac, Swiss Re Solutions

Silja Calac has joined Swiss Re Corporate Solutions in January, as senior surety underwriter. She will be based in the company's office in Frankfurt and will be responsible for further expanding its surety business for banks. She will report to Azman Noorani, Head of Surety and Trade Credit Insurance.  

"Swiss Re Corporate Solutions has an excellent reputation in the trade finance market," Silja tells GTR. "I'm really excited to join such an innovative and inspiring environment and contribute to the build-up of the surety business - a field where cooperation between banks and insurance companies offers great potential." 

Silja comes from Unicredit in Munich, where she was Head of Trade Risk Management. She has also worked in Singapore and Paris.


The ITFA Board is pleased to announce the following three new members. 

1) Established in 2006 Anadolubank Nederland N.V., has been granted a full banking license by Dutch Central Bank in August 2007. The Bank specializes in trade finance, corporate banking and retail banking areas and has special interest in structured finance products such as pre-export financing, commodity financing and forfaiting.

The Trade Finance Department is active in financing hard commodities such as steel & scrap steel, coal and soft commodities as petrochemicals and grain. Its main products include: BL & FCR Financing; Warehouse Financing; Receivables Financing; Export - Import letters of credit; B2B Letters of Credits; Letter of Guarantee; Guarantees per aval and discount of avalised notes; Import and Export collection services. Financial Institution is responsible for overall bank-to-bank relationships. The Bank's main businesses incorporate: Participate or purchasing bank and corporate syndications from the first or secondary market and Origination of bank-to-bank loans via various products. 
Nedim Sabah, Executive Vice President - Financial Institutions and Treasury will be the main contact in relation to ITFA.

2) The leading global financial services company, Citibank (Citi)has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) enables clients' success by providing an integrated suite of innovative and tailored cash management and trade finance services to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations across the globe. Based on the foundation of the industry's largest proprietary network, TTS continues to lead the way in offering the industry's most comprehensive range of digitally enabled treasury, trade and liquidity management solutions.
Wasif Raza, Director - Trade Asset Distribution will be the Main Delegate with respect to ITFA matters.

3) Originally founded in the early 19th Century, Willis Group Holdings plc is the world's oldest insurance broker. 
Today, Willis Group Holdings plc is present in every continent, having a global workforce of over eighteen thousand employees who service clients from more than 400 offices. Its associates are highly trained and knowledgeable in their particular area of operation which covers a vast variety of industries and services.    
Amongst the industries serviced, there are aerospace, financial services, trade finance, reinsurance, real estate, energy, construction and much more. Similarly its services are extremely vast, assisting their clients with Accident & Health, Claim Advocacy, Loss Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, Political Risk, amongst others.
Andrew van den Born, Executive Director, Financial Solutions is the main delegate for all ITFA activities.
Please join us in welcoming them to the Association.


As recently announced by the ITFA Chairman, Mr. Paolo Provera, the 42nd Annual Trade and Forfaiting Conference is going to be held in Dubai this year. Further details are available by clicking on the following link

Traditionally ITFA's events and conferences have always been held in Europe but the growing trade flows in the Middle East region have provided a unique opportunity to facilitate the expansion of trade and forfaiting in these markets and Dubai is the best place to develop our initiative. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that the Annual Conference is going to be held between 28 and 30 September 2015 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai. We encourage our Members to attend this annual event which we all look forward to from year to year. More detailed information regarding the Annual Conference will be available on the ITFA website in due course.

The ITFA Board looks forward to welcoming its Members to yet another outstanding event that ITFA will be hosting. We hope to see you all there!


After giving it some thought, it was decided that we shall now be adding a new dimension to our monthly Newsletter. A page will be dedicated to helping our members familiarise themselves with the ITFA website and learn how it can be used more extensively. This page will take the form of a tutorial session which will definitely be beneficial and hopefully, our Main Delegates can gain more confidence with the website and its functionalities. Each month we will be tackling a different area.

How would you go about creating a new post?

One must hover on the 'Posts' menu item from the dashboard page and select the 'Add New' menu item.

You are then taken to the following page:

Fill in the required fields, by including the post title and post text in their respective fields.

When one is creating a new post, you must also choose a category from the right hand side of the page as shown below. This will automatically assign the created post to the chosen category such as Events, Event News etc.

If one also wishes to add an image to the post, you must click on the 'Set featured image' link at the bottom right of the post page.

You can then either choose an image from the media library, which are already uploaded images, or you may select to upload a new image.

In order to select an image from the media library, just click once on the image and then click on 'Set Featured Image'.

In order to upload a new image select the 'Upload Files' tab on the top left of the page and then click 'Select Files' as seen below.

Select the image to be uploaded and click on 'Choose'. The image will then start uploading automatically. Once the image is uploaded, click on 'Set Featured Image' at the bottom right of the page.

After all the required details have been entered, just select the 'Submit for Review' button on the right hand side of the page.

And there you have it...its done...we have to admit, its really not that difficult. However, if you do encounter any difficulties when trying to create a new post on the ITFA website, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by sending an email on