Monday, 5 December 2016


For the benefit of those who were unable to attend Agnes Alderson’s presentation at our annual conference in Warsaw last September, here are some brief insights into our sister association ATFA – The Association of Trade & Forfaiting in the Americas.

The association was originally established in 1995, and rebranded itself to its current name in 2007. It is constituted of a 10-member board, and as at July 2016 has around 80 paid-up members, comprising bankers, insurers, insurance brokers, law firms and Trade Finance-related service providers. Similarly to ITFA, it always aims to keep its annual membership fees low and to deliver value to its members.

For example, ATFA has staged a dozen networking events since June 2015, including a successful Annual Conference in Miami alongside CLACE (a LatAm-focused trade conference).

It has also recently initiated a mentor-mentee programme, which is being used as a great way to foster closer collaboration with ITFA: by leveraging our recent experience from setting up the Martin Ashurst Mentorship Forum, and by enabling mentees from either association to connect with mentors from the other association.

Agnes went on to highlight some of the trends that were affecting the US trade finance market – and in turn the global market too in many cases:
  • Growing reach of regulators (Fed, OCC, FDIC, etc) – unlikely that it could ever be reversed
  • Costs of being compliant are steep and often result in loss of revenue, in turn leading to the exiting of relationships and/or lines of business
  • Sanctions – which can be unpredictable, and getting it wrong can be costly
  • Adjusting to a world of low growth rates and sustained lower commodity prices
  • US EXIM Bank – should I stay or should I go?
  • Unexpected overseas events (Brexit, attempted coup in Turkey, impeachment of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff)
ATFA have also kindly shared two presentations that accompanied some engaging speakers at their Autumn Seminar and Cocktail at the Yale Club in New York; one can be accessed here, and the other here. Whilst not all the predictions were correct, it’s fair to say that there have been some unexpected results along the way this year, which can be perfectly summarised by the title of Robert Powell’s presentation, “2016: the Return of Political Risk”.

We at ITFA are looking forward to continuing our working relationship with ATFA, and hope that our members can benefit from further mutual cooperation and knowledge sharing on trade matters.

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