African trade finance sees $5 bn in portfolio outflows in Q1 2020 due to Covid-19, but opportunities exist - report
Constrained global financial conditions caused by Covid-19 have led to massive portfolio outflows from Africa, exceeding $5 billion in the first quarter of 2020, a new continent-wide survey on trade finance has shown. About $3.1 billion left the South African market alone, the report found.
Launched on 15 April 2021, the African Trade Finance Survey Report examines how trade finance has evolved during the Covid-19 pandemic and highlights the role it can play in overcoming the social and economic fallout of the disease. The survey was conducted by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), jointly with the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A) Partnership.
At the launch, Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said a growing number of international banks were becoming even more reluctant to take on payment risks in countries where economic conditions were deteriorating.
“These massive capital outflows strained African banks, many of which recorded sharp drops in their net foreign assets. This further exacerbated liquidity constraints and undermined the capacity of banks to finance African trade,” he said.
The survey covers the first four months of 2020, including April, when global trade recorded its largest contraction on record. It aims to inform the design of interventions to address market challenges and effectively engage African financial institutions, trade finance intermediaries, regulatory authorities, and national authorities to accelerate efforts to bridge the region’s trade finance gap.
The report made numerous recommendations, including greater engagement between central banks and the industry, a push for increased digitalization and uptake of new technologies, and better data.
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