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"The price of a commodity will never go to zero. When you invest in commodities futures, you are not buying a piece of paper that says you own an intangible of the company that can go bankrupt." –Jim Rogers.
Trade finance signifies financing for trade, and it concerns both domestic and international trade transactions. A trade transaction requires a seller of goods and services as well as a buyer. Various intermediaries such as banks and financial institutions can facilitate these transactions by financing the trade. Trade finance manifest itself in the form of letters of credit (LOC), guarantees or insurance and is usually provided by intermediaries.
While a seller (or exporter) can require the purchaser (an importer) to prepay for goods shipped, the purchaser (importer) may wish to reduce risk by requiring the seller to document the goods that have been shipped. Banks may assist by providing various forms of support. For example, the importer’s bank may provide a letter of credit to the exporter (or the exporter’s bank) providing for payment upon presentation of certain documents, such as a bill of lading. The exporter’s bank may make a loan (by advancing funds) to the exporter on the basis of the export contract.
Other forms of trade finance can include export finance, documentary collection, trade credit insurance, finetrading, factoring, supply chain finance, or forfaiting. Some forms are specifically designed to supplement traditional financing.
Export finance – When an exporter’s operating cycle (length of time it takes to sell its inventory and collect on its sales) exceeds the credit terms extended by its trade creditors (suppliers), the exporter has a financing requirement. Export finance is needed to cover the gap between when an exporter is able to turn inventory and trade receivables to cash and when it has to pay on its trade payables.
Secure trade finance depends on verifiable and secure tracking of physical risks and events in the chain between exporter and importer. The advent of new information and communication technologies allows the development of risk mitigation models which have developed into advance finance models. This allows very low risk of advance payment given to the Exporter, while preserving the Importer’s normal payment credit terms and without burdening the importer’s balance sheet. As trade transactions become more flexible and increase in volume, demand for these technologies has grown.