Financing international trade is, at best, an arm’s length business for most banks and financing institutions. The trade financier is likely to be thousands of miles away in one of the world’s financial centres while the goods being financed are manufactured, moved about the globe, the vessels carrying them dock and embark, goods are transhipped and finally delivered to the seller. The trade financier may be involved in dozens of transactions at the same time and cannot supervise each one, minute-by-minute. He or she is linked to the transactions by a few all-important pieces of paper. If this documentation is faulty the entire structure may come unravelled and money may be lost — and perhaps the financier’s job as well.
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