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Lamy urges more trade finance for developing countries
Jun '10
Director-General Pascal Lamy, in his keynote address to the Global Commodities Finance Conference in Geneva on 9 June 2010, warned that lower-income developing countries, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa, continue to face “strong constraints” in trade finance despite the return of liquidity to the bulk of trade markets. He said that concluding the Doha Round would significantly reduce “current distortions in the global commodities markets, particularly those that impact on developing countries”. This is what he said:

“The importance and availability of commodity finance lines in the global trade system”. Global Commodities Finance Conference, Geneva, Wednesday 9 June 2010.

Let me start by thanking the organisers of this conference for inviting me. I am also pleased to see Mr Jean-Francois Lambert as the Chair for this session. He is an active member of the WTO Expert Group on Trade Finance which monitors global trade finance developments and we benefit from his insights, as well as from other prominent players of the trade finance community.

This conference is timely for us in the WTO, for two reasons: first because we are in the process of finalising our annual flagship publication, the World Trade Report 2010, whose theme will be “Trade in Natural Resources: Challenges in Global Governance”. We will therefore keenly follow your discussions here. Second, trade finance will be on the menu of the G-20 summit in Toronto later this month. This would be a good moment to review progress on the support package on trade finance that the G-20 London summit set up last year and try to further focus it on trade finance providers and traders that need it the most.

While the majority of you here engage in the financial trading of commodities, at the WTO, our members engage in setting and implementing the rules that govern global trade; that includes indeed trade in commodities. So I guess, one can say we are serving a similar purpose, which is to make trade possible, to ensure that the transmission belt between demand and supply works smoothly.

The global commodity trade is an important component of WTO members' exports, particularly the developing and emerging economies among them.

Trade in natural resources represents an important and growing share of world trade. In 2008, at the height of commodity prices, this share was around 24 per cent of total global merchandise trade in dollar terms. This includes of course trade in oil and fuels, minerals and food commodities.

It is also worth noting that in the global financial markets, commodities are now recognised as a major asset class, making up approximately 15 per cent of banks' fixed income revenues. According to recent research by Citigroup analysts, bank revenues from trading are expected to be 15 per cent to 20 per cent down from 2009, with commodities being the only sector with expected growth.

For developing countries, commodities, including cotton cocoa, minerals and so forth represent a significant share of their exports and in some economies in Africa and the Caribbean this share is as high as 80 per cent.

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