CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE – Sean Edwards, ITFA Chairman / Head of Legal and Special Adviser to The Global Trade Finance Department At SMBC, September 2020

Dear Members and Friends,

I write this opening message with a heavy heart, as under normal circumstances I would be opening this month’s newsletter with one of my favourite topics…our Annual Conference!  As most of you are aware, this year’s conference was set to be hosted in Singapore.  I can assure that all of the ITFA board will miss the opportunity to meet up with you. Our record for organising some of the most memorable conferences in trade finance is something we cherish; for this year we will need to rely on memories, but I can assure you that we will return in fine style just as soon as we can.

In the meantime, we are currently organising our Annual General Meeting, which we are planning to hold in November.  Obviously, all our members will be duly updated, so keep tuned for more on the date and content. We will be taking the opportunity to go onto some of our achievements, initiatives and publications so far this year.

With respect to markets, Gold futures kept heading lower throughout the beginning of September, however, a better-than-expected monthly U.S. employment data helped to strengthen the U.S. dollar.  The US regained 1.4 million jobs in August and the unemployment rate posted a surprisingly large decline to 8.4% from 10.2%, marking a fourth straight decline.  Not so good news from the UK, as the economy suffered its biggest slump on record between April and June as coronavirus lockdown measures pushed the country officially into recession. The UK economy shrank 20.4% when comparing results with those of the first quarter. Nevertheless, according to the Office for National Statistics, data shows that the UK economy bounced back in June following the relaxation of certain restrictions by the government.

As recently announced I am pleased that together with Trade Finance Global (TFG), we have launched an international trade finance guide, aimed at clarifying and de-mystifying trade finance products, as well as the risks, challenges and opportunities within trade finance. I invite you to log into the member area and download a copy.

Back to COVID-19, we have recently heard that the World Health Organization has hinted that vaccinations against the virus might be available during the second half of 2021, so all I can advise is to hold on tight for a little bit longer and keep safe. I hope that soon enough we will start seeing the end of this long and winding tunnel!

This September edition of the ITFA Newsletter includes an interesting article published by The Wall Street Journal titled: ‘’Global Trade’s Little-Known Comfort Blanket Slips.’’ André Casterman, Chair ITFA Fintech Committee, contributes a stimulating article titled: ‘’The Evolution of Trade Distribution Practices and Implications for Technology Platforms.’’ Another article titled ‘’The New Normal Banking for the Future’’ was written jointly by Sam Sehgal & André Casterman, members of the ITFA Fintech Committee and ITFA Technology Experts for Regulatory Action (TERA).

We proudly welcome three new institutions to our growing ITFA family; RXIL, Tinubu Square and Trade Connect Global Ltd.

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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