For the first time in over 30 years, ICC Banking Commission’s 2017 Technical Meeting was held in London, gathering international experts and close to 250 delegates to discuss key issues affecting the trade finance industry.

London, 8 November 2017

Discussions revealed wide consensus that geopolitical and economic forces influencing trade are greater than they have been for decades—while global market volatility continues to create a challenging landscape for the trade finance industry. London’s enduring reputation as a global financial hub therefore made it an ideal location for dialogue on these trade finance issues.

Meanwhile, with a number of changes underway in the trade finance market at large— including a significant shift in focus from traditional trade finance products to supply chain finance and digitalisation—this year’s technical meeting provided much-needed insight into rules and guidelines governing these rapidly evolving areas.

Here are five things you may have missed:

 1. Global trade finance insights

Leading economist Samantha Amerasinghe from Standard Chartered Bank delved into some of the key questions facing the industry: Is the global economy headed in the right direction? Is the market for global trade finance improving?

Ms Amerasinghe explored evolving trade flows and corridors, current and emerging trading trends, and the key drivers shaping the industry—with a particular focus on trade finance in Africa.

 2. An update on digitalisation

The newly-established working group on digitalisation in trade finance gathered to explore how the trade finance industry might realise the many benefits of digitalisation—by enhancing transparency, time and cost savings, and reducing errors and compliance and operational risk.

Members convened to provide an update on some of the group’s key objectives in overcoming the barriers to digitalising trade finance, such as a reliance on paper-based practices, a lack of recognition of the legal status of electronic documents, uncertainty over standards, and a general lack of clear legal and regulatory frameworks. The group thus focused on progress within its three dedicated streams: 1) “E-compatibility” of ICC rules for trade finance; 2) Standards; and 3) Legal Status.

3. A Brexit update

With the meeting being held in London, it was important to address the latest on Brexit. Jeremy Browne, Special Representative for the City to the EU, of the City of London Corporation, provided the latest progress on what the organisation is doing to support city businesses in light of the Brexit negotiations. Browne explained the Corporation’s involvement in representing the voice of financial and professional services firms when it comes to sharping the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Browne also highlighted what the financial industry is seeking from the Brexit negotiations, and how the City of London Corporation is supporting these requirements.

4. Official Opinions

As with previous meetings, one of the key reasons for the London summit was for experts to participate in the production of the Banking Commission’s “Official Opinions”. Two dedicated sessions therefore focused on the review process and the draft of the official opinions.

Member input into this process continues to be essential, as ICC’s opinions are frequently cited by courts to assist in dispute resolution and are considered a major resource for lawyers, bankers, judges, scholars and other industry professionals. Members provided their feedback and suggestions to the national committees responsible for their creation.

 5. A spotlight on access to finance

This year, ICC United Kingdom organised a high-level conference under the theme “Access to Finance: Unblocking Global Growth”. The event brought together numerous senior trade finance practitioners, large corporates, small business, regulators and academics to discuss the current state of the international trade finance market, future threats and opportunities, and how ICC can help it function more efficiently.

Panel sessions covered a range of topics, from real business experiences in accessing finance, to the regulator’s view of trade finance and alternatives to traditional trade finance. The event also included a notable “fireside chat” with the First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, offering unique perspectives on the barriers an emerging market faces when accessing finance and achieving growth through international trade.

ICC thanks the ICC Banking Commission Preferred Partners, Commerzbank, Finastra, Standard Chartered and Surecomp for their support.