On 8 May 2017, Thierry Senechal, CEO of Impact for Finance, spoke at a panel organized by the EBRD Trade Facilitation Program (TFP). This panel reported on developments in global trade finance markets and their impact on corporates and exporters. Panelists discussed the key issues related to the supply or shortage of trade finance and indicated that a persistent trade finance gap hurts SMEs the most, and thus has negative knock-on effects for economies across the globe. Thierry Senechal presented the preliminary findings from the EBRD Trade Finance Country Assessments done in several countries of operations (Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco).

The EBRD TFP information session of 9 May 2017 focused on the opportunities of trade but also on the challenges trade finance is facing in the light of a new regulatory framework and changing attitudes towards free trade. In an introductory panel attended by over 300 participants, Finance for Impact explored 6 challenges impacting the development of trade finance markets in the MENA and CIS regions: (i) Lack of ambitious business reforms; (ii) Weak export diversification strategies, (iii) Uneven access to financial innovation, (iv) Technology divide, (v) Non-tariff barriers, and (vi) ‘derisking’.

This information session also had an excellent discussion on correspondent banking. John Mair from EBRD insisted on the need to bridge the “fear of the unknown” and provided a compelling case for confirming and issuing banks to create longstanding relationships based on trust and shared values. Thierry Senechal, CEO of Finance for Impact, pleaded for the case to provide compelling evidence to show the real impact of de-risking on the development of certain countries. He indicated “The most vulnerable countries are being de-risked, leaving the banking sector, in particular the smaller banks, without access to the much needed correspondent banking relationships needed to conduct international business. This is having a negative impact on the growth of developing and emerging economies”.