After years of neglect, the Iraqi banking sector offers promise once again. Mobile banking, trade finance and infrastructure financing opportunities are proving attractive to existing lenders and the wave of new entrants looking to break into the market. But, before the tide can finally turn, there are regulatory issues that need addressing.
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In response to restrictive regulation, trade finance securitisation deals are starting to materialise and, with these deals structured in such a way that they reduce risk weighting, lower leverage and increase liquidity, appetite for them is growing.
With the US and European crises behind them, South American trade figures are back on an upward slope. Local banks are paving the way for improved relations with China, and Chinese banks are increasing their presence in the region. Even the proximity of the US could have its benefits.
The economic changes that have taken place over the past few years have forced banks to fine-tune their business and expansion strategies, not just to stay competitive – or regain their competitive advantage – but to also keep abreast with new technologies and changing demands from clients.
As Basel III regulations come into play, banks looking for a quick fix to bulky balance sheets are divesting their trade finance assets, creating a gap in the market that investor groups and other alternative financiers are keen to fill.
A focus on individual key strengths, both in terms of products and geographical footprint, is the driving force behind big banks’ global transaction banking business strategies as they search for a unique selling point in an increasingly competitive market.
With advanced economies still languishing in the doldrums, trade between Asia and Latin America is driving global economic growth, and it appears that this blossoming relationship is mutually beneficial. However, could protectionist policies in Latin America dampen this ardour?
The effects of the European retreat from trade finance in Asia are now apparent as a number of players are stepping in and new trade patterns are taking shape.
As Europe's banks come to terms with the economic impact of Basel III's rules on capital requirements, their demand for trade finance deals in Latin America through the International Finance Corporation has waned. But this leaves the door open to North American and Asian banks looking to increase their presence in the region.
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