International Trade has particular characteristics that give rise to different types of risks. Trade financiers thus spend most of their time understanding and mitigating these risks. The following is a selection of some of the key risks in international trade finance:

  • Country Risk: A collection of risks associated with doing business with counterparties based in a foreign country, including exchange rate risk, political risk and ultimately, sovereign risk. Factors to bear in mind when considering country risks involve the current political climate in the country, the state of the local economy, the existence of reliable legal structures, the availability of hard currency liquidity, among other factors
  • Corporate Risk: These are risks associated with the exporting/importing entities, primarily focusing on their credit rating and any history of defaults, either through non-payment or through non-delivery/deficient delivery.
  • Commercial Risk:  Commercial risks refer to potential losses arising from fragilities stemming from the underlying trade (quality/adequacy of the goods being traded, robustness/adequacy of the contracts, pricing matters, etc).
  • Fraud Risk: These are risks typically associated with either unknowingly engaging with a fraudulent counterparty, receiving forged documents and insurance scams.
  • Documentary Risk: Documents play a vital role in international trade. Missing or incorrectly prepared document pose risk for both buyers and sellers as this can cause delays in shipments and ultimately delays in payments.
  • Foreign Exchange/Currency Risk: This is the risk posed by fluctuations in the exchange rates, relating to payments and receipts in foreign currency. In certain cases, the exporter or importer may have no control over this movement in the rate of exchange and on occasion such changes can wipe out the profit or even more attributed to the transaction.
  • Transport Risk: About 80% of the world’s major transportation of goods   carried out by sea, which gives rise to a number of risk factors associated with transportation of goods. Storms, collisions, theft, leakage, spoilage, cargo theft, scuttling, piracy, fire and high sea robbery are just some of those risks.
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