By Maria Rozanova
The coronavirus pandemic is significantly affecting trade flows and supply chains across the world. To stimulate global trade the provision of trade finance is vital, as are the skills of financial professionals dealing with new – and sometimes more complex – supply routes.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is a leader in the education of trade finance professionals with its dedicated Trade Finance e-Learning Programme, which is now marking its 10th anniversary. Launched in cooperation with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Coastline Solutions, the programme aims to help issuing banks under the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) achieve best international practice.
The platform allows trade finance professionals to gain the skills to issue and process complex trade products in line with the provisions of the ICC Trade Rules, which are a key feature of international commercial contracts involving the shipment of goods and provision of services. This is not readily available on the local markets.
The e-Learning Programme is available to trade finance professionals in all EBRD regions and offers 11 online training modules that students can access on a smart phone or a tablet and progress at their own pace. Due to popular demand, the EBRD also made the most popular courses available in Arabic, French, Mongolian, Russian and, soon, Albanian.
To date, more than 9,000 specialists from over 400 organisations in the economies where the EBRD invests have taken part in the Programme. The highest performing graduates have received unique internship opportunities with international commercial banks and the International Chamber of Commerce.
Each year the e-Learning Programme also awards more than 1,000 students a scholarship which covers up to 100 per cent of the tuition fees, regardless of their financial situation.
“Our award-winning Trade Finance e-Learning Programme has been an essential tool in building a market for trade finance,” explains the officer who is responsible for the e-Learning Programme, Kamola Makhmudova.
“The online format helps to democratise training and deliver trade finance know-how to a diverse range of financial professionals, from those living in remote areas to female employees on maternity leave.”
She added: “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic we have seen record demand from our partner banks for online training and we look forward to further sharing trade finance knowledge to support global trade.”
The EBRD’s TFP, launched in 1999, aims to promote foreign trade to, from and among the economies in which the EBRD invests. Through the Programme, the EBRD provides guarantees to international confirming banks and short-term loans to selected banks and factoring companies for on-lending to local exporters, importers and distributors.
March and April 2020 saw the EBRD provide a record level of support for trade activity across the emerging economies where the Bank invests. In April it delivered an unprecedented €503.5 million(US$558.18million) in trade finance via 179 trade transactions, compared with €385.6 million for 144 operations in March 2020. The e-Learning Programme remains fully operational under the current circumstances.
The TFP currently includes over 100 issuing/partner banks in 30 economies, with limits exceeding €1.5 billion in total, and more than 800 confirming banks worldwide.