ICC Memo to Governments and Central Banks on essential steps to safeguard trade finance operations
ICC calls on governments to enable an immediate transition to paperless trading to mitigate the potential implications of COVID-19 related workplace restrictions on the financing of trade.
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is increasingly concerned about the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the functioning of the global trade finance market.
COVID-19 induced dislocation in this market may have significant negative implications for essential global trade flows and, moreover, the viability of many micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
As a consequence of necessary public-health interventions to tackle the pandemic, banks are facing increased difficulties processing trade finance transactions. These operations typically require significant levels of in-person staffing to review hard-copy paper documentation, which is required as a matter of national law in many jurisdictions.
While ICC and banks are taking rapid—and unprecedented—steps to limit potential disruption to the processing of trade transactions, only effective government intervention to enable an immediate transition to paperless trading will fully mitigate the potential implications of COVID-19 related workplace restrictions on the financing of trade.
In this context—and with a view to safeguarding global trade flows—ICC calls on all governments to take emergency measures to immediately void all existing legal prohibitions on the use of electronic trade documentation.
International legal standards can be readily adopted in national laws to provide legal clarity for banks to accept e-documents in order to expedite the financing of trade transactions and the release of goods through this unprecedented crisis.