MENA Traders’ Repayment Fears On Global Economy

A report by HSBC shows exporters in the region are worried buyers will fail to settle transactions in coming months.



Uncertainty over the global economy is increasingly prompting Middle Eastern companies to use financial instruments which offset the risk of non-payment by foreign trade partners, HSBC’s regional commercial banking head said.

In Saudi Arabia, 42 per cent of exporters believe there will be an increase in buyers failing to settle trade transactions in coming months, with 30 per cent of importers expecting more suppliers to fail to deliver goods, according to the bank’s Global Connections Report, released on Monday.

Meanwhile, 53 per cent of Egyptian businesses surveyed for the report cited payment defaults and 42 per cent mentioned supplier failures as barriers to future trade growth.

However, trade in the region is continuing to grow; 94 per cent of Saudi firms expect their trade volumes to expand or stay steady in the next six months. So companies are increasingly interested in instruments that limit risks, such as letters of credit and export credit insurance, HSBC said.

“I think this is a reflection of the economic situation out there, and the desire to find mitigants to make sure people can continue to take advantage of the growth in trade flows and ensure they are protected against payment risk,” Tim Reid, HSBC’s regional head of commercial banking, told reporters.

“The message is one of confidence in trade but a slight underlying concern that they need to tread carefully, given the concern around the ability of some of the trading partners to meet their obligations.”

Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa have seen their economies disrupted by political turmoil in the past two years. While there may continue to be some disruption in the short term, the longer-term outlook is encouraging, HSBC’s report said, predicting Egypt would eventually record annual export growth of between 12 and 15 per cent.

“We have no doubt about the medium to long-term potential for Egypt to grow,” Reid said.