Discussions from the various panels and speakers centred on the African trade environment and paths to recovery including the impact of the macroeconomic headwinds following the global pandemic took centre stage at the 2023 Global Trade Review (GTR) conference.
Additionally, the role of governments, regulators, corporates in the continued facilitation of trade was considered as well as the resilience required by stakeholders to continue to support trade finance in the areas of foreign currency liquidity, local currency funding, risk management, capacity building for high performing female talent, support for SMEs especially those led by women and youths, new technologies in Agribusiness and their impact on export development.
Ibiyemi Okuneye, head of trade and transaction banking, Nigeria & West Africa and Kwame Asante, head, transaction banking, Ghana, both from Standard Chartered Bank, participated as speakers and chairpersons at the event and had the opportunity of sharing insights on topical trade issues.
Ibiyemi, while speaking on the value of diversity, inclusion and sustainability in trade and the ACFCTA said, “There is need for a deliberate shift in the support for youth and women-led businesses.’’
According to her, trade policies that lack gender differentiation would only continue to widen economic inequality, noting that the solution to poverty alleviation must be shaped with clear focus on maximising the potential of these women-led businesses by recognizing and transitioning them into the formal sector.
“This is the time to accelerate changes in policies and framework and the AFCFTA committee on Women and Youth can play a critical role in facilitating that enabling environment without which we may never reap the full benefits of AFCFTA,” She said.
“Shaping this will involve strong public-private sector collaborations, policy changes and a diversity-focused financiers’ lens to provide specialized financing and legislative support required to catalyze the immense growth potentials and benefits derivable from female talent and women-led businesses in Africa.’’
On the resilience required to run businesses in West Africa, Kwame said ‘businesses must innovate to tap into new client pools and revenue streams, adopt cost effective solutions to improve returns and continuously work at diversifying supply sources to manage foreign currency exposures. This in his view will provide the required competitive advantage to thrive.’’
The event was a catalyst for Africa’s development as the choice of topics were carefully selected for the integration of intra-African trade.
Standard Chartered Bank continues to remain a strong market player in the trade finance space in Africa and West Africa in particular, providing cutting edge solutions to deepen trade facilitation and supporting participation in global value chains. Standard Chartered Bank’s engagement at such industry events further strengthens its position as an expert on trade finance and leader in providing innovative digital trade solutions
The bank participated as Gold key sponsors of the recently concluded GTR West Africa Lagos 2023, themed “A new dawn: Plotting a course for West African trade”.
The event attracted over 400 delegates and 50 subject matter experts including corporates, financial institutions, financial market specialists, non-bank financiers, technology and fintech enthusiast, financial consultants, insurance and risk managers.