Thursday, 1 February 2018

CHAIRMAN'S MESSAGE - Sean Edwards, ITFA Chairman / Head of Legal at SMBC

Dear Members and Friends,

It is no secret that the world economy, and therefore trade, is gaining traction. Economic data points have been indicating that this has been the case over the past 12 months or so. And recent central bank activity by the US Federal Reserve is testament to this. The momentum in global activity has spilled over onto 2018 from what has been a year of transition. In the IMF’s recent World Economic Outlook Update, it therefore comes as no surprise that the forecast for the world economy’s growth in both 2018 and 2019 has been revised upwards to 3.9 percent. The Asian Development Bank has reported a fall in the trade gap down to “only” US$1.5 trillion. Whilst unsatisfied demand remains enormous, and new technologies are just starting to make a dent, the trend is on the right course.  

Emerging markets began the New Year as they started off, in a strong vein, but the weakness brought about from rising benchmark yields in the US crept in. Having said that, demand for emerging markets remained robust and is expected to stabilise, with premiums rising albeit slightly from current levels. As had been expected, following the strong show in emerging markets in the past 18 months, the sharp correction witnessed of last year was far from inevitable, and spreads could widen in a much smoother fashion. Further growth of interest rates in the US will inevitably translate into higher borrowing costs for EM issuers, and could also, in the long run result in a slowdown in activity but this does not necessarily have to be a sharp and panic-inducing process.

Registrations to the 45th ITFA Annual Conference have started to flow in. We encourage you to register and take advantage of the Super Early Bird Package which is available till mid-April. Cape Town awaits us - a coming-together of cultures, cuisines and landscapes. The members of the ITFA Board are extremely keen to welcome you to this fantastic coastal city in South Africa.

In this edition of the 2018 ITFA Newsletter you will find an article written by André Casterman, the very active chair of our Fintech Committee, entitled ''Collaborating with Fintechs does not mean taking risks, quite the contrary’’. James Collins has contributed ''The Updated Wolfsberg Principles 2017 – now called the ‘Wolfsberg Group, ICC and BAFT Trade Finance Principles''. We also publish a  notice concerning the establishment of an ITFA Insurance Related Think Tank (IRTT) to supplement the Insurance Committee’'. Our regular feature - Chart of the Month, contributed by Dr. Rebecca Harding of Coriolis Technologies Limited provides an interesting read titled ''Re-focus on UK services’’.

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,
Sean Edwards

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