Standard Bank says the value of its trade finance through letters of credit is now averaging US$500 million annually, describing this as an indication of the significant role it is playing in the economic development of the country.
Standard Bank Head of Trade Finance, Ronald Tembo, told journalists in Lilongwe that the bank’s global connections make it possible to access expertise and foreign currency, making it Malawi’s largest player in trade finance.
“We are the largest player in trade finance. Our market share is at 26.7 percent and we want to grow more than that,” said Tembo.
He said the dominance in trade finance has been achieved without any effort to woo importers to take advantage of the facility.
Tembo said, however, Standard Bank now wants to increase awareness of the facility and sees itself increasing its trade finance market share to 30 percent within the next few months.
He said, however, that businesses may be limited from accessing the facility because of the current depreciation in the local currency as well as high interest rates on the market.
Tembo disclosed that the bank is in discussion with the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) to allow it intermediate investment deals that were yielded from the recently held Malawi Investment Forum (MIF).
According to Tembo, the bank is ready to facilitate joint ventures by backing local companies as they partner foreign counterparts in implementing investment projects.
“We are hopeful that we could be able to sign a memorandum of understanding with MITC soon for us to start facilitating the deals,” said Tembo.
The MIF managed to attract about US$1.5 billion worth of possible investment ventures, some of which are joint ventures between foreign and local companies, mainly in areas of agro-processing, energy generation, infrastructure, among others.