Banks urged to help promote inter regional trade
Banks are being urged to leverage the enormous opportunities that abound in the area of trade finance to help promote trade among member countries on the continent.
This can be done by providing the financing that allows factories to expand and for businesses to make and receive payments.Subscribe
Analysts believe that for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to succeed despite the initial challenges, players in the financial services sector, particularly banks, had a major role to play.
The Country Representative, Ghana International Bank (GHIB), Baafuor Ohene Abankwah, holds the view that there are huge opportunities for trade finance on the African continent, hence the need for banks to play a lead role to promote trade.
Mr Abankwah, who is also the Head, Client Coverage Africa for the bank, said “here in Ghana, we have several products that are required in West Africa, and banks and financial institutions can do more to facilitate that”.
Trade finance training
He was sharing his thoughts in an interview with the media at the closing of a four-day trade finance training in Ghana.
Organised by GHIB, the training brought together 60 bankers from across six West African countries.
They were equipped with how to facilitate trade between the countries they represented and the rest of the world.
It also focused on various international trade finance products that banks could use in serving their customers.
Mr Abankwah explained that his outfit had a role to play in building trade finance capacity, hence was passionate about organising such training programmes.
“Banks have an important role to play, and intentional efforts such as this training to make sure we work together to promote trade in Africa will really help," he said.
He said GHIB had contributed immensely to Ghana’s economy since its inception by working very closely with some banks in the Ghanaian space.
“The bank has facilitated the import of goods and the export of some of the commodities that Ghana produces.
“GHIB has been at the heart of some of the biggest syndicated transactions that Ghana has been engaged in and has been involved in remittance flows in Ghana and West Africa,” he added.
Access to finance
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Association of Banks (GAB), John Awuah, explained that despite the challenge in trade financing, banks were thriving to promote the concept.
He described the training as a timely one for experts in the banking industry to understand trade finance instruments that could help in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
"The good thing about trade finance is that, it makes transaction costs a bit manageable because it is cheaper compared to conventional financing.
“So trade finance products provide that bridge that enables businesses to access financing in a more cost-effective manner,” he said.