Overview of the Workshop: “Access to Finance, including of Trade Finance” organized on February 23, 2024

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On February 23, 2024, Foreign Trade University (FTU) successfully organized the Workshop: “Access to Finance, including of Trade Finance” under the WTO Chair Programme phase 2022-2026 hosted by FTU.

The workshop witnessed the participation of hournorable guests and experts: Dr. Marc Auboin – Counsellor, Economic Research and Statistics Division, WTO; Ms. Nathalie Louat – Director of Trade & Supply Chain Finance in the Financial Institutions Group at IFC; Ms. Susanne Kavelaar – Global Head of Trade Advisory and Trade Business Development Lead for Southern African Countries, IFC; Ms. Truong Thi Dieu Que – Director of Trade Finance Center (head office), Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank); along with Embassies, foreign organizations, and enterprises.

On FTU side, the workshop was attended by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Thu Huong – Vice President of FTU, Head of the WTO Chair Program Steering Committee at FTU; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Trinh Thi Thu Huong – WTO Chairholder; Dr. Vu Kim Ngan – WTO Co-chairholder; and Heads, Deputy Heads of departments and faculties at FTU; along with staff, lecturers and students of the university.

In the opening speech of the workshop, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Thu Huong – Vice President of FTU, Head of the WTO Chair Program Steering Committee at FTU emphasized the importance of international trade, affirming that international trade can only be truly effective when trade finance activities are fully met. The workshop contributed to clarifying issues related to enterprises’ financial access when participating in the global value chain. Furthermore, this workshop also marked the beginning of a series of events in the third year of the FTU-WCP program.

Following Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Thu Huong’s speech, Dr. Marc Auboin – Counsellor, Economic Research and Statistics Division, WTO expressed appreciation and high evaluation for the efforts of the FTU in conducting research activities, promoting multilateral cooperation, and supporting the community related to international trade.

Representatives from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) presented the results of the research “Trade Finance in the Mekong region” jointly conducted by the WTO and IFC in 2023. Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam constitute one of the most integrated and leading trade regions in the world. However, the proportion of trade supported by trade finance is still limited. The biggest obstacles, according to a report from banks, include internal risks and clients’ collateral assets. Increasing trade finance could enhance this economic region’s participation in world trade. Specifically, improving access to trade finance could increase trade by 5% to 9%, corresponding to a growth figure in annual merchandise trade volume of $3.5 billion in Cambodia and $55 billion in Vietnam. Furthermore, the research confirms a lower level of intake of Supply Chain Finance compared to traditional trade finance instruments. The research then proposes strategies to enhance domestic manufacturers’ access to trade finance and increase integration into global supply chains, such as: diversifying the scope of trade finance products, improving the legal framework, expanding the local customer base, or enhancing the capacity of banks.

The roundtable discussion was then moderated by Dr. Marc Auboin – Counsellor, Economic Research and Statistics Division, WTO with the participation of Dr. Tran Thu Trang – Senior Economist, IFC; Ms. Truong Thi Dieu Que – Director of Trade Finance Center (Head Office), Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kim Huong Trang – Lecturer at FTU. Experts discussed to clarify issues related to accessing short and long-term loans to enhance enterprises’ competitive advantages when participating in the global value chain, as well as to address the concerns of guests, lecturers, and students attending the workshop, including exchanging views on research data collection, challenges, and opportunities that enterprises face, especially in developing countries, and the reality of accessing trade finance of companies in Vietnam.

At the end, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Trinh Thi Thu Huong – WTO Chairholder delivered the closing speech and expressed gratitude to the distinguished guests, experts, colleagues, and representatives from various fields for their invaluable contributions to the success of the Workshop: “Access to Finance, including of Trade Finance”, aiming towards a world where financial access, including trade finance, is no longer a barrier but a bridge to prosperity and growth.