This Day Lagos Sunday Okobi
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

Eminent Nigerians yesterday urged Africans to look inward in terms of trade and its finances. The business gurus and captains of industries stated this at a book launch which took place in Lagos yesterday.

At the unveiling of the book, ‘Foundations of Structured Trade Finance’ written by Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah, President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, stated that Africa as a continent can do greatly in terms of trade if it looks inward. He lamented that the problem in Africa lies in the defective intra-trade activities, adding that some African countries prefer to do business with China irrespective of the proximity of the product to them.

« Africa can do well in terms of trading; it’s just for us to look inwards. Our problem is the intra trade, and we are the ones making things difficult for ourselves because some countries prefer to do business with China even though it’s unfavourable than fellow African (Republic of Benin for examples), » he stated, adding that it is costly to export goods abroad than to import.

Also, Pat Utomi, stated that until yesterday (referring to the election of President-Elect of the United States, Donald Trump), the world was flat, « but it is now oval, » and that African people need to learn how to play in the new situation by believing in their capacity to survive. He noted that Africa has been entrapped in petrodollar, and has been struggling to survive in other area, adding that « so we should work towards trading first within the continent.

As one of the discussants, former Governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke, said: « We ought to trade with one another first, » adding that currency is a barrier which must be tackled.

The former governor who said Africa is a continent of incredible opportunities, decried that « today, African relate well with the outside world than ourselves. We must also have a free trade zones in order to facilitate successful trading activities within the continent.

« We need to also develop our infrastructure in order to have free flow trade in theWest African region, and work out the mechanism to accept our currency in the region. Africans must also use structures like ECOWAS, Africa Union etc to facilitate trade on the countinent because accepting one another’s currency is critical, » Duke said.

Meanwhile, the book authored by the African Export-import Bank (Afreximbank) President, Oramah, which was launched marks the first major attempt at simplifying the complex subject of structured trade finance for easy understanding by trade finance professionals, academics and the business community in Africa and beyond.

Oramah, in his book, introduced readers to the fundamentals of the structured trade finance instrument which has found particular application in Africa because of its unique attribute of allowing the financing of trade in difficult environments by using trade flows as collateral for trade finance facilities.

According to him, « Structured trade finance has proven itself as an effective instrument for attracting trade finance to regions like Africa which receive limited trade finance and which lag behind in trade and economic performance, » noting that it was a ‘a highly specialised area of trade finance that has evolved directly from practice’.

« This book addresses the urgent need for detailed guidance on the subject as it grows and becomes more complex in an increasingly risk-based regulatory environment.

« The book reviews the philosophical foundations and a risk associated with structured trade finance and provides step-by-step guidance on how deals can be structured before outlining the scope of coverage of structured trade finance outsides the confines of commodities. It also looks at case studies to draw out the lessons contained therein.

The launch, which took place at the Eko Hotels and Suites in Victoria Island ,was accompanied by a keynote address by Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, and panel discussion on:’Finance,Trade and Economic Dominance-The knowledge of power and the power of knowledge’.

Enelamah who was represented by his Special Assistant on Trade, Mr. Femi Edu, said the author is a special product from Nigeria; a world class quality from the country, has played an important role in the evolution of structured trade finance, having been the chief architect in its design and implementation at Afreximbank where it is used as the core operating model enabling the bank to lend to African entities by transferring payment risks to those better able to bear them.

The book is published by ARK Group London, in association with Trader and Forfaiting Review leading global trade finance journal.