International Trade Payment & Finance Practice of Bangladesh

International trade is the backbone of our modern, commercial world. Producers in various nations try to profit from an expanded market, rather than be limited to selling within their own borders. There are many reasons that trade across national borders occurs, including lower production costs in one region versus another, specialized industries, lack or surplus of natural resources and consumer tastes. This trend is attributable to the increased globalization of the world economies and the availability of trade payment and finance from the international banking community.
Although banks also finance domestic trade, their role in financing international trade is more critical due to the additional complications involved. First, the exporter might question the importer’s ability to make payment. Second, even if the importer is creditworthy, the government might impose exchange controls that prevent payment to the exporter. Third, the importer might not trust the exporter to ship the goods ordered. Fourth, even if the exporter does ship the goods, trade barriers or time lags in international transportation might delay arrival time. There are a number of methods of trade payment.
Before importers and exporters decide to do business with each other they need to understand and adopt a method suitable to meet their specific needs. The contract between buyer and seller will specify the way in which payment is to be made. Certain methods of payment are less risky than others. It is up to the buyer and seller to agree on a method that suits them both. The choice of payment method is affected by several factors like requirements of the seller and buyer, relationships between the trading partners, the operating environment and associated risks, object of transaction and market conditions etc. Once acceptable risks have been determined then the most appropriate payment method can be selected.

Exporters use different methods of financing international trade, depending upon the resources they have available and the transactional risk they are able to absorb. The ability to access international markets is an important strategic opportunity for manufacturers and sellers because it expands a company’s customer base exponentially. International trading is much more complicated than making domestic sales, and comes with internal and external stress factors that often determine whether a company can effectively operate in the global arena.
The assignment has two objectives
1) To discuss conceptual issues of international trade payment and finance 2) To discuss international trade payment and finance practice of Bangladesh
Conceptual Issues of International Trade Payment and Financing Methods To succeed in today’s global marketplace and win sales against foreign competitors, exporters must offer their customers attractive sales terms supported by the appropriate payment methods. Because getting paid in full and on time is the ultimate goal for each export sale, an appropriate payment method must be chosen carefully to minimize the payment risk while also accommodating the needs of the buyer.
Financing methods use a variety of trade finance products that are available to exporters to increase cash flow and reduce the risk associated with shipping products overseas. Importers and exporters usually need to resort to trade payment and financing mechanisms, coursed through third parties such as banks or specialized financial institutions that help guarantee both the payment to exporters and the delivery of products to importers.
There are four common methods of payment available to firms engaged in International trade: Cash in Advance, Open Account / Supplier credit, Documentary Collection, and Documentary Credit / Letters of Credit LC. Cash in advance means payment in advance, or advance payment, refers to a situation in which the seller requests payment from the buyer before he will ship the goods. The seller only ships out the goods to the buyer after receiving the payment. With cash in advance payment terms, an exporter can avoid credit risk because payment is received before the ownership of the goods is transferred.
Payment is usually made in the form of an international wire transfer to the exporter’s bank account or foreign bank draft. As technology progresses, electronic commerce will allow firms engaged in international trade to make electronic credits and debits through an intermediary bank. In cash in advance process, at first, there will be a purchase sale agreement between exporter and importer. In payment procedure there will be three steps, first, importer makes payment to the exporter. Second, exporter will make the shipment of goods and third, exporter will send the documents to the importer.
1. Purchase Sale Agreement
2. Payment
3. Shipment of Goods
4. Documents
Figure 1: Process of Cash-in-Advance
There are some features of this method: interest of exporter is fully protected and interest of importer is not protected. Banks are involved in the process of transferring payment. Documents and shipments are directly handled by the exporters. There is no universally accepted regulation to guide cash-in-advance. It is guided by the purchase or sale agreement. It is one of the cheapest forms of trade payment method but it is the least popular form of trade payment method in the world. It is used in the world less than 1%.
Cash-in-Advance should be used only under the following conditions: The importer is a new customer and/or has a less-established operating history. The importer’s creditworthiness is doubtful, unsatisfactory, or unverifiable. The political and commercial risks of the importer’s home country are very high. The exporter’s product is unique, not available elsewhere, or in heavy demand. The exporter operates an Internet-based business where the acceptance of credit card payments is a must to remain competitive.
Open account is the reverse of cash-in-advance, in which the goods, along with all the necessary documents, are shipped directly to the importer who has agreed to pay the exporter’s invoice at a specified date, which is usually in 30, 60 or 90 days. The exporter should be absolutely confident that the importer will accept shipment and pay at the agreed time and that the importing country is commercially and politically secure.
1. Purchase Sale Agreement
2. Shipment of goods
3. Documents
4. Payment
Figure 2: Process of Open Account
In open account method, interest of importer is fully protected and interest of exporter is not protected. Banks are involved in the process of
transferring payment. Documents and shipments are directly handled by the exporters. There is no universally accepted regulation to guide open account. It is guided by the purchase or sale agreement. It is also the cheapest forms of trade payment methods. It is the most popular form of trade payment method in the world. It is used in the world more than 85%. Open account terms may help win customers in competitive markets and may be used with one or more of the appropriate trade finance techniques that mitigate the risk of non-payment. It helps to establish and maintain a successful trade relationship.
Involvement of bank is insignificant and thus it’s not costly for the traders. Documentary collection (D/C) is the process of collection of payment by a bank on behalf of exporter from importer against documents. The importer is not obligated to pay for goods before shipment. It offers some protection to the seller. It is more secure than shipping on an open account basis but less secure than using a letter of credit or an advance payment. In documentary collection process, the very initial step is contract between exporter and importer where it is decided that payment will be collected against documents.
Next step is shipment of the goods and preparation or collection of the documents by the exporter. After collection and preparation of documents exporter is supposed to submit documents along with a set of collection instruction at the counter of Remitting Bank. Remitting Bank is the bank at the counter of which documents are submitted by exporter to collect payment from importer on its behalf. Remitting Bank generally collects payment and forward documents using the service of collecting and/or presenting bank.
Presenting bank is the bank that presents documents to the importer. And collecting bank is the bank that is involved in the process of documentary collection. Then as per the collection instruction importer receives documents either DP (Documents against payment) or DA (Documents against acceptance). Then the importer will release the goods against documents and exporter will receive payment either immediately or as per the accepted terms through banking channels.
Figure 3: Process of Documentary Collection
In this method, interest of importer is protected and interest of exporter is better protected than Open account. It is guided by the purchase-sale agreement and URC 522 (Uniform Rules for Collections). URC is published by International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) under the document number 522 (URC 522). All the banks involved in the documentary collection are the agent of exporters. Documentary Collection process could be risky for the exporter, if documents are not received by the importer. The exporter’s bank (remitting bank) and the importer’s bank (collecting bank) play an essential role in Documentary Collection process. Although the banks control the flow of documents, they neither verify the documents nor take any risks.
It is considered to be one of the cost effective methods of evidencing a transaction for buyers, where documents are manipulated via the banking system. With documentary collection transactions, the exporter has little recourse against the importer in case of non-payment. Thus, documentary collection should be used only under the following conditions: The exporter and importer have a well-established relationship. The exporter is confident that the importing country is politically and economically stable. An open account sale is considered too risky, and an LC is unacceptable to the importer.
Documentary Credit or Letters of Credit (L/C) is the commitment, guaranty or undertaking by a bank on behalf of importer to the exporter about the payment of certain amount subject to the fulfillment of certain documentary condition. This method is a compromise between buyer and seller because it affords certain advantages to both parties. The exporter is assured of receiving payment from the issuing bank as long as it presents documents in accordance with the L/C. An important feature of an L/C is that the issuing bank is obligated to honor drawings under the L/C regardless of the buyer’s ability or willingness to pay. On the other hand, the importer does not have to pay for the goods until shipment has been made and the documents are presented in good order.
Documentary credit are recommended for new or less established trade relationships because the buyer’s bank is there to guarantee for both exporters (that payment will be made) and importers (that the terms of the contract are met). First step of Documentary Credit process is contract between buyer and seller where it is decided that payment will be made through L/C. Then the importer approaches to a bank (Issuing Bank) to issue L/C. Issuing bank is a bank that issues letters of credit (L/C).If the bank agrees on financing terms then L/C is issued by the issuing bank and sends to the exporter (Beneficiary). While sending L/C, issuing bank generally uses the services of a bank known as Advising Bank. Advising Bank is the bank using the service of which issuing bank advices credit to the exporter on behalf of importer. Advising Bank is selected by the Issuing Bank.
After receiving L/C exporter makes shipment and prepare documents to submit to the issuing bank or its agent (Nominated Bank). Nominated Bank is the bank nominated by the issuing bank at the counter of which documents may be submitted by the exporter in addition to the counter of issuing bank. Nominated bank is selected by the preference of exporter. After the submission of documents to the Nominated Bank or Issuing Bank, documents are examined to a certain ‘Complying Presentation’. Complying Presentation means the documents submitted are in order. Documents are complying if these are in accordance with L/C terms and conditions, UCP 600 and ISBP 681.
The concept of Complying Presentation is particularly important for the examination of documents by the bank and also for the exporter for preparation of the documents. If the documents are in order, there could be negotiation or honor. Negotiation is performed by the Nominated Bank through purchasing or discounting of documents without the consent of Issuing Bank which is a financing technique. When Nominated Bank negotiate documents it is known as Negotiating Bank. Honor means payment. If payment is occurred by issuing bank then it will be honor. Honor could be at sight, deferred basis, or acceptance basis.
Following negotiation or honor documents are forwarded to the Issuing Bank for reimbursement. Issuing Bank is supposed to examine documents and makes arrangement for making payment. Issuing Bank makes reimbursement to the Nominated Bank by using the service of Reimbursing Bank. Then finally, documents are handled to the importer and then, goods are released by the importer. After that importer make payment to the issuing bank for settlement.
From above discussion we can find some responsibilities of issuing bank: Issuance of L/C and making arrangement for advising.
Amendment of L/C if required.
Examination of documents and honoring document.
Making reimbursement to the nominated bank.
In international trade transaction there are various types of Letters of credit (L/C) is used. Broadly there are two types of Letters of credit.
i. Revocable Letters of credit
ii. Irrevocable Letters of credit.
If any Letter of Credit can be amendment or changed of any clause or canceled by consent of the exporter and importer, it is known as Revocable Letter of Credit. In case of seller (beneficiary), revocable credit involves risk, as the credit may be amended or cancelled while the goods are in transit and before the documents are presented, or although presented before payments has been made. The seller would then face the problem of obtaining payment on the other hand revocable credit gives the buyer maximum flexibility, as it can be amended or cancelled without prior notice to the seller up to the moment of payment buy the issuing bank at which the issuing bank has made the credit available. In the modern banking the use of revocable credit is not widespread.
If any Letter of Credit cannot be amendment or changed of any clause without the consent of all concern parties – importer (applicant), exporter (beneficiary), Issuing Bank, and Confirming Bank (in case of confirmed L/C), is known as Irrevocable Letter of Credit. An Irrevocable Letter of Credit constitutes a firm undertaking by the issuing bank to make payment. It, therefore, gives the beneficiary a high degree of assurance that he/she will pay to his/her goods or services provided he/she complies with terms of the credit. There are also some special types of L/C such as: Transferable L/C, Back to back L/C, Revolving L/C, Confirm L/C, Red clause L/C, and Standby L/C.
The main modes of international trade are export and import. Both of them required financing in order to complete the export and import process properly. Trade financing is financing either to the exporters or to the importers. Exporters use different methods of financing international trade, depending upon the resources they have available and the transactional risk they are able to absorb. Broadly financing is two types: Export financing and Import financing. Export financing means financing facilities to the exporter and financing facilities to the importer is called import financing. Exporters need financing facilities at two stages: i. Pre shipment stage
ii. Post shipment stage
Pre-shipment finance for exporters is the finance required to bring an export transaction to the point of shipment – either to manufacture, process, or purchase merchandise and commodities for shipment overseas. Pre Shipment Finance is issued by a financial institution when the sellers want the payment of the goods before shipment. The main objectives behind Pre-shipment finance or Pre-export finance is to enable exporter to: Procure raw materials.
Carry out manufacturing process.
Provide a secure warehouse for goods and raw materials.
Process and pack the goods.
Ship the goods to the buyers.
Meet other financial cost of the business.

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Pre-shipment financing is especially important to smaller enterprises because the international sales cycle is usually longer than the domestic sales cycle. Pre-shipment financing can take in the form of short term loans, overdrafts and cash credits. Packing credit, back to back L/C, red clause L/C etc. are the example of pre shipment export financing. Packing Credit is a pre shipment credit offer to the exporters to meet expenses related to the preparation of goods and transportation. It is especially needed when inputs for production must be imported. It also provides additional working capital for the exporter.
Post Shipment Finance is a kind of loan provided by a financial institution to an exporter or seller against a shipment that has already been made. This type of export finance is granted from the date of extending the credit after shipment of the goods to the realization date of the exporter proceeds. Exporters don’t wait for the importer to deposit the funds. Negotiation or purchasing is the example of post shipment export financing. As like as export financing, import financing also two types: i. Pre import financing
ii. Post import financing.
Pre import financing means financing before buying goods from exporter. L/C is the example of pre import financing which is not covered by the margin. Post Import Financing means financing after shipment of goods arrived. Once shipment of goods arrived, importer may lack the necessary liquidity to pay their issuing bank immediately. The bank can provide them the post import financing facilities. PAD (Payment Against Document), LIM (Loan against Imported Merchandise), LTR (Loan against Trust Receipt), all are the example of post import financing. PAD is created by the issuing bank at the time of making payment to the exporter on behalf of importer. If PAD is not cleared in due time then bank canceled it and convert PAD to LIM.
International Trade Payment and Finance Practice of Bangladesh In the context of Bangladesh, Documentary Credit is the most popular and widely used for making import payments from Bangladesh. In 2012, 85% of import payments from the country are made through letter of credit. The other two methods- open account and documentary collection are used 3% and 10% for international trade payment respectively.
Because of domestic regulation (Import policy order 2009-2012) on import of Bangladesh cash in advance is less used in Bangladesh. It is used 2% in our country for make payment against international trade. In case of export, 30% of payments were received through Documentary Collection, and 65% of payments were received through Documentary Credit. Cash in advanced is used to make domestic trade payment in Bangladesh. As like other countries cash in advance is the least popular method of trade payment in Bangladesh in international trade payment. It is used 2% in our country for make payment against international trade. Open account is the most popular method of trade payment around the world. It is used more than 85% in international transaction. But in case of Bangladesh it is used only 3% of total received payment of export. Bangladesh Trade 2012
Import
Export
Cash In Advance 2% Cash In Advance 2% Open Account 3% Open Account 3% Documentary Collection 10%
Documentary Collection 30% Documentary Credit 85%
Documentary Credit 65%
Source: BIBM Report 2012
So it can be said that most of the export and import transactions of Bangladesh are dominantly settled by documentary credit. The result is that the businesses are paying high for their transaction settlement. As documentary credit has involvements of different parties namely the nominating bank, the reimbursing bank, the confirming bank etc. Some of them are involved only to ensure the creditworthiness of the issuing bank against a certain percentage of commission. Another reason could be that the sovereign rating is lower than that in some countries in LDC group.
Although there is specific guidelines published by the International Chamber of Commerce (Such as UCP-600, ISP98), documentary credit is an inefficient process in terms of time. As a result the businesses of our country are losing their advantage over those of some countries under the class of developing countries. As any L/C opened in our country has to comply with domestic regulations, guidelines on foreign exchange transactions along with Foreign Exchange (FE) circulars issued by Bangladesh Bank and the Import Policy Order and the Export Policy Order of the country are followed, these issues effect scrutinizing of import documents.
However, it is to be remembered that whenever an L/C is established only the ‘L/C terms’ are ‘terms’ and only they are to be considered for examining a set of import documents. As per article 14 of the UCP 600 any bank shall have a maximum of five banking days following the day of receiving of the document to determine if a presentation is complying. In some banks there is a practice of sending the discrepancy notices within 2-3 days after receiving the documents. Banks consider the act as a protective measure on their part. Charging of discrepancy fee appears to be another reason of such practice.
Banks have been observed to approach to the importers to get their opinion before rejecting the documents. In regard to discrepancies, late shipment, late presentation, expiry of the L/C are very common. Other than some exception, whatever we import, we have to follow L/C for making payment. But the margin of L/C is very high for importer in Bangladesh. Margin means the amount of money paid by importer against opening a L/C. More over the repayment of L/C financing is also satisfactory. L/C is a payment technique but it also has financing component. Banks in Bangladesh also provide finance to importer through L/C to facilitate international business.
In the financial year July 2010 – June 2011 the total amount of L/C opened in Bangladesh was Taka 38,582.35. Total import payments of Bangladesh in the financial year July 2010 – June 2011 were Tk. 240,027.90. Total export receipts of Bangladesh (including exports of EPZ) during the financial years, 2010-2011 and 2009-2010 amounted to Tk. 145,007.60 and Tk. 102,148.2 respectively. Total import payments of Bangladesh (including EPZ) during the quarter July 2010-June 2011 stood at Tk. 240,027.9 (or US$ 8,788.5 million).
Concluding Remarks
One of the most important challenges for traders involved in a transaction is to secure financing so that the transaction may actually take place. So Bangladesh Bank imposed regulation to import through LC but most of the export payment is done by documentary collection.
The faster and easier the process of financing an international transaction, the more trade will be facilitated. Traders require working capital (i.e., short-term financing) to support their trading activities. Exporters will usually require financing to process or manufacture products for the export market before receiving payment. In Bangladesh the trade finance is depend upon bankers and importers relationship. Therefore, Bangladesh governments should provide assistance and support in terms of export financing and development of an efficient financial infrastructure.

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