<Attention Job Seekers> Spring Asia does not represent Triterras for our recruitment needs. Click for details.

  • Home
  • Resources
  • The Impact of COVID-19 on Trade Finance: A Retrospective Analysis

The Impact of COVID-19 on Trade Finance: A Retrospective Analysis

The image illustrates the impact of COVID-19 on Trade and Trade Finance.

The COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented global crisis, brought the world to a standstill, disrupting every aspect of life. One critical area deeply affected was international trade, and by extension, trade finance. Trade finance, a vital instrument facilitating cross-border transactions, underwent a profound transformation in the wake of the pandemic. This article retrospectively analyzes the impact of COVID-19 on trade finance, highlighting key shifts, challenges, and the industry’s resilience.

Before the pandemic, the trade finance landscape was thriving. It played a pivotal role in easing transactions, promoting global commerce, and fostering economic growth. Notable trends included the digitalization of processes and the rising demand for supply chain financing. The ecosystem was robust, with financial institutions and businesses seamlessly collaborating.

However, the pandemic brought forth unprecedented disruptions. Global supply chains faced sudden shocks due to lockdowns and restrictions. Manufacturing came to a halt, leading to delays in transportation and challenges in inventory management. These delays, in turn, impacted payment cycles, affecting trade finance. Financial institutions became risk-averse, leading to reduced credit availability and concerns about the creditworthiness of trade partners.

The pandemic highlighted the vulnerabilities of paper-based processes in trade finance. Remote work arrangements made necessary by the pandemic, exacerbated delays in handling physical documents.

Despite the challenges of 2020, which was marked by some of the largest reductions in trade and output volumes since World War II, 2021 saw a V-shaped recovery, albeit uneven. Some countries flourished due to rapid vaccine rollouts, while others faced supply-chain disruptions and inflationary pressures, underscoring the intricate web of global value chains where goods cross borders multiple times. Governments and international organizations stepped in to support trade finance during these tumultuous times. Central banks worldwide took measures to maintain liquidity, such as reducing interest rates and implementing quantitative easing. Loan guarantee programs were rolled out to support trade-related financing.

Furthermore, international organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) initiated emergency funding, especially targeting developing economies.

The pandemic brought about a seismic shift in trade flows. Traditional trade routes were disrupted, leading to a re-evaluation of supply-chain strategies. Many businesses faced the dilemma of reshoring production versus diversifying supply chains to mitigate risks. Data from the Trade Finance Register revealed the profound impact of the crisis on trade finance flows in 2020. As businesses faced liquidity issues and banks became more risk-averse, the availability of trade finance became constrained, affecting small and medium-sized enterprises the most.

A significant outcome of the pandemic was the acceleration of digital transformation in trade finance. While technology adoption was on the rise before the pandemic, the urgency of remote work and the need for contactless operations expedited its implementation. To boost efficiency and transparency, businesses and institutions adopted technology-driven solutions, such as digital trade platforms and blockchain applications. This shift enhanced efficiency, transparency, and risk management. Trade finance professionals experienced faster approval times and reduced errors, further strengthening the industry’s ability to weather disruptions.

Risk assessment and management underwent a paradigm shift. Supply chain resilience gained prominence, compelling businesses to diversify suppliers and adopt robust risk assessment methodologies. Data analytics became a crucial tool in predicting trade finance risks. Big data analysis helped in identifying potential disruptions, while scenario planning aided in managing uncertainties.

The pandemic has also prompted a reassessment of international trade relationships and agreements. Countries are reconsidering supply chain dependencies, potentially leading to reshaped global trade policies and geopolitical dynamics.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions to trade finance, challenging its traditional processes and resilience. Despite the initial setbacks, the industry demonstrated remarkable adaptability by embracing digital solutions and collaborating with governments and institutions.

Looking ahead, trade finance is poised to further evolve, leveraging technology and innovation to navigate the uncertainties of the modern world. As we reflect on the past, the lessons learned from the pandemic underscore the importance of flexibility, preparedness, and collaboration in shaping the future of trade finance.


Related Articles

FinTech’s Green Revolution: Nurturing Sustainable Practices Among Small Businesses

BY Triterras
Ashish Srivastava, our Triterras' Chief Commercial Officer shares in-depth with Intelligent Fin.Tech, a global technology intelligence platform which gathers the latest financial information, on how FinTech has emerged as a crucial catalyst, motivating and supporting small to medium enterprises on their path towards environmental responsibility through sustainable trade finance.

Revolutionizing Trade Finance with Tech, Collaborations & SME Empowerment

BY Triterras
In an exclusive interview with Dubai Diaries on pages 18 to 20, Ashish shares his thoughts on harnessing new technologies (AI, ML), enhancing user experience of our blockchain platform, forging of strategic partnerships to broaden our global presence, prioritizing client data protection via regulatory compliance, and on how Triterras addresses a key issue that SMEs face in the UAE - impeded access to vital trade finance support which stunts their business growth.

Triterras Announces Collaboration with Card Cutters

BY Triterras
The collaboration agreement with Card Cutters will allow Triterras to directly promote its end-to-end digital lending services to their clients in the UAE; this initiative is a part of Triterras’ larger strategy to partner similar e-commerce and point-of-sale (POS) platform operators to provide such comprehensive financing solutions.

How blockchain is reshaping UAE trade

BY Triterras
Embracing fintech solutions based on blockchain can bring numerous benefits to businesses, such as having access to affordable financing options, enhanced transparency throughout the entire supply chain, being able to tap into a growing ecosystem that supports innovation and entrepreneurship, just to name a few.

Invoice Bazaar collaborates with Cari for financing solutions to Restaurants

BY Triterras
The strategic alliance seeks to introduce Invoice Bazaar’s comprehensive financial solutions to restaurants affiliated with Cari's food delivery platform in the UAE, which will allow them to manage cash flow more effectively, increase their promotional spending on the Cari platform, attract more customers and to stay ahead of their competitors.

How Embedded Finance Transforms Supply Chains, Fuels Unprecedented Growth

BY Triterras
A trailblazer in global finance, Triterras is rewriting the script for UAE's business landscape. Dive into the groundbreaking insights of Vinay Kapoor, our EVP at Triterras, as he shares with Techitup Middle East, a Dubai-based interactive media and content publishing platform for technology and business, on the transformative power of Embedded Finance and how it is reshaping the way businesses operate.

Triterras Collaborates with Oman-based Mamun

BY Triterras
Our strategic alliance with Mamun will allow us to provide short-term lending solution to MSMEs and white-label Kratos, our trade finance platform to the banks in the Sultanate of Oman. We will also be introducing Mamun's direct debit payment technology solution to help ease the handling of business transactions in the UAE.

Revolutionizing Trade Finance: Visionary Dive into the FinTech Landscape

BY Triterras
Srinivas Koneru, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Triterras, shares in an exclusive conversation with Dubai Diaries, his transformative vision on how the industry is poised to revolutionize small and medium supply chain financing and offers insights into Triterras’ pivotal role in this financial evolution.

How SMEs can navigate Trade Finance challenges in the UAE

BY Triterras
The backbone of the UAE's economy, SMEs fosters innovation, job creation and overall economic growth. Yet they face challenges in accessing trade finance which hinders their potential impact on the UAE's economic prosperity. How can SMEs then work around these challenges?

World Trade Board launches plan to empower SMEs through trade and finance

MSMEs make up around 90% of businesses globally, but accounted for just 23% of applications for trade finance in 2020. Despite their low representation, these smaller firms made up 40% of rejected trade finance applications. This mismatch between demand for and supply of trade financing known as the trade finance gap, is growing rapidly - from an estimated $1.5 trillion in 2018 to $2 trillion in 2022, and shows no signs of slowing.

The Changing Face of Supply Chain Finance: New Corridors & New Techniques

BY Triterras
Watch Marina Narganes, our Triterras' Head of Distribution & Sales Strategy in action, as she speaks alongside industry experts at the ITFA Conference 2023.

Trade Finance: An Expanding Opportunity For Institutional Investors

BY Cambridge Associates LLC
Trade finance offers a differentiated combination of credit and duration risks, liquidity profile that can complement other portfolio allocations in fixed income and increase diversification. Discussions in the broader ecosystem of trade finance have consistently pointed towards a greater role for institutional investors to provide trade credit through specialized funds, which is expected to expand greatly in the coming years.

Triterras’ e-commerce financing accelerates growth of platform operators & their MSME clients

BY Triterras
With Triterras' E-commerce Receivables Financing solution for the platform's MSME clients, operators and aggregators can now promote a critical solution to a key business challenge that their clients face, create and retain their loyalty, allow clients to increase their spending on platform promotions to boost ranking and staying ahead of competitors.

Trade-finance data needs a centralized repository

BY Euromoney
“A centralized trade-data repository with standardized data formats, has the potential to offer significant benefits to funders, while investing in training programs for skilled professionals will be essential for making improvements in this area,” says Srinivas Koneru, Triterras' Chairman & Chief Executive, speaking to Euromoney. "The trade-finance industry should focus on collaborations to overcome the current limitations of trade-data analysis."

Empowering E-Commerce Microlending: Navigating Opportunities & Challenges

BY Triterras
The rise in online shopping and digital transactions are driving demand for e-commerce and microlending services. Srinivas Koneru, our Triterras' Chairman and CEO discusses with Asia Business Outlook on what it takes to meet the evolving needs of today's consumers.

Trade financing gap is restricting growth and negatively impacting SDGs

In CNBC-TV18's interview with Steven Beck, Head of Trade Finance at Asian Development Bank (ADB), a primary reason for the trade financing gap getting larger is inflation. The global economy is expected to grow at less than 3% and international trade volumes are also expected to fall to less than 1% after a decent growth last year.

The case for a more transparent & liquid market for Trade Finance assets

BY J.P. Morgan
Increased regulation and growth in world trade is sparking a need for trade financing, and there is growing interest in transferring risk from banks to non-traditional sources of capital, such as investment funds with substantial capital and liquidity.

Triterras announces the appointment of Vinay Kapoor to Executive Vice President

BY Triterras
“Triterras is on an exciting and pivotal journey as we endeavor to deliver on our promise to meet the growing demands for financial and business services in the Middle East. Vinay, an extremely well-respected and trusted industry leader with great stature in the business community, will be a great complement to our Leadership team.” said Srinivas Koneru, Chairman & CEO.

New hires to serve growing pipeline of funding opportunities

BY Triterras
Reporting to the Head of Distribution & Sales Strategy, the new hires will engage with institutional investors who are interested in deploying capital for cross-border trade finance opportunities. This comes on the back of Triterras' expansion of its lending portfolio in both emerging and developed markets.

Private Capital Investors in Trade Finance: An Asset Manager’s Perspective

Private capital within trade finance activity comes from a diverse range of participants. Given the widening global trade finance gap, trade finance has increasingly been attracting private capital across the credit spectrum and a range of participation formats. However, there are several factors which have hampered its development as a mainstream subset of private credit.
Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top Skip to content