Trade finance (or short-term credit) plays a crucial role in facilitating international trade yet is particularly vulnerable to financial crises as banks increase the pricing on all trade finance transactions to cover increased funding costs and higher credit risks. Whereas South Africa’s financial institutions largely managed to strengthen their capital positions during the global financial crisis, the country’s trade flows and access to capital (in particular trade finance and its costs) were hard hit by the crisis. Little is known about the extent of shortages or ‘gaps’ in trade finance and the impact of this on South Africa’s recent trade performance. Whilst our research recognizes that access to trade finance is not the main cause of South Africa’s trade contraction, our research suggests that all else equal, a one percentage point increase in the interbank lending rate of our trade partner could reduce exports by approximately ten per cent.
The paper was published in the South African Journal of Economic Management and Science, which is hosted by the University of Pretoria.