Regulatory compliance costs contribute to a growing global shortage of trade finance, particularly in emerging markets.

Author: Gordon Platt





Citi offers the most comprehensive trade platform in North America, with full mobile capabilities. Citi’s global network and its Treasury and Trade Solutions franchise enable it to service end-to-end, cross-border trade flows with integrated cash management and trade finance services. Citi has long-standing relationships with export credit agencies and regional processing centers around the world. The bank also offers “white label” solutions and trade services to financial institutions. Its understanding of local legal and regulatory requirements, trade practices and risks make it an invaluable partner for regional firms entering new markets.



Santander has a large franchise in Latin America, with local banks in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay. Santander is the largest international bank in Brazil, where it has a 16% market share in trade finance. Banco Santander Chile is the leading trade bank in that country, and Banco Santander Rio is the largest privately owned bank in Argentina. Santander’s online trade portal helps companies identify the best markets for their products in 185 countries. Spain-based Grupo Santander is the world’s fifth-largest banking group. In addition to its global network, Santander has more than 1,900 correspondent banks worldwide.



Scotiabank is a dominant presence south of the US border with operations in 25 countries in the Caribbean and Central America. With more than 200 branches throughout the region, Scotiabank offers both retail and corporate banking services. TradeExpress, the bank’s online international trade service for importers and exporters, provides access to finance as well as comprehensive online reporting of transactions. Scotiabank software makes it easier for importers and exporters to prepare shipping documents to support letters of credit or to open account transactions.


Societe Generale

French bank Societe Generale offers comprehensive and efficient trade services throughout Europe and beyond. Altogether, the bank has strong trade expertise in more than 50 countries, including many emerging markets. Societe Generale supports French small and medium enterprises and large corporations as they do business around the world. During 2016, the bank gained market share across all types of letters of credit in the French market. Societe Generale is able to confirm letters of credit on more than 700 banks in 100 countries. It also offers structured trade finance deals tailored to client needs.



Nordea is the leading trade finance bank in the Nordic countries, where it claims an average market share of more than 33% in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Nordea uses a global operating model that enables it to deliver a consistently high level of trade services across its network, Trade Finance Global, for handling documentary collections, guarantees and standby letters of credit for both importers and exporters. The system gives corporations a complete overview of their trade finance transactions globally. Stockholm-based Nordea is also active in the Baltic region.



UniCredit says it is the largest international banking group in Central/Eastern Europe, with 3,600 branches in 14 CEE countries across the region. The Milan-based bank claims an export market share of more than 25%. The bank’s trade finance offerings range from traditional products and services to innovative solutions. Its Global Trade Management product suite optimizes working capital throughout a company’s global supply chain, providing advice and solutions for each component. In addition, UniCredit has a strong presence in the discounting and purchase of receivables in the CEE region. The bank has begun to implement a group-wide Web portal for its trade finance products.


Arab Bank

Arab Bank has a network of more than 600 branches spanning five continents. Its unique positioning across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with local expertise in trade services, enables it to meet the specialized needs of its clients. The bank offers comprehensive corporate trade solutions, including letters of credit, guarantees, receivables financing, forfeiting and discounting. Arab Bank’s online trade finance and cash-management corporate banking solutions are available across the MENA region. The Amman, Jordan-based bank combines a historical presence in the region with the latest technology systems.


DBS Bank

Trade finance volume at DBS Singapore rose 5% last year, outpacing the 2% rise in the local market. As a regional bank with strong connections, DBS benefits from the fact that Asian trade is continuing to drive global trade flows. The bank’s open-account trade business is growing rapidly, offsetting a decline in documentary trade. DBS is a top three bank in Asia for large corporations, which account for 82% of its trade finance portfolio. It has increased its focus on emerging markets with increasing trade flows, such as Vietnam and Bangladesh. With growing demand for renminbi financing, DBS has built up its RMB settlement capabilities to provide financing solutions. DBS India has 12 branches located at main trading centers.


Standard Bank

South Africa–based Standard Bank has a presence in 20 countries in Africa. It maintains extensive trade lines with various African and global financial institutions to support trade flows between Africa and the rest of the world. Standard Bank focuses on key sectors, including oil and gas, power and infrastructure, mining and metals, natural resources and agriculture. The bank has a strategic partnership with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), which in 2015 acquired a controlling stake in Standard Bank’s London-based global markets business.