WTO calls meeting on trade finance and economic crisis

Friday, October 10, 2008

The head of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, has called for a meeting to assess the trade finance situation, including the impact on developing countries. The meeting, which is schedule for November 12, will allow credit institutes and government officials to review the current trade credit situation.

“A number of WTO members, in particular developing countries, have flagged the problems they are facing in arranging trade financing,” wrote WTO Director-General Lamy.

“The purpose of our next meeting will be to review how the international market for trade-financing is faring in view of the current very difficult conditions on international financial markets,” he continued.

Credit is vital to trade with around 90 percent of the US$14 trillion in world trade financed by credit. While this market has done well compared to other credit markets, bankers are suggesting that problems might occur shortly. Rates on these trade loans have increased by 3 percent.

Developing countries have seen several recent years of positive growth but the effects of the global financial crisis on these countries have pushed growth levels down.

Lamy has asked that the heads of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other regional development banks to attend. He also invited the five leading commercial banks in trade finance: Citigroup, Commerzbank, Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan Chase, and HSBC.

Lamy also said that work on the Doha Development Round of trade is continuing but did not say if it would be finished this year.

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