Swift trade volume fell by 1.79% in 2014, further fuelling fears of a slowdown in global trade.

Messages sent over the ubiquitous trade network were revealed by the ICC in Singapore at GTR Asia Trade Finance Week this week, along with survey results that show the level of concern among the banking sector about the macro-economic climate.

Swift data shows that more and more exporters are reverting to traditional letters of credit, as markets take on much riskier profiles. Meanwhile, the majority of banks quizzed in the ICC’s annual survey said that they are expecting costs to rise as regulation keeps ratchetting up around the world.

While Vincent O’Brien of the ICC’s Banking Commission revealed that the majority of those surveyed expect to increase the amount of trade finance they issue over the course of 2015, he warned that a lack of lending would starve crucial sectors of capital. Banks are retrenching from non-core markets, with the result being that parts of the world could be cut off from trade finance lines.

O’Brien presented data showing that Asia Pacific was by far the most active trading bloc in 2014, with the region leading the rest of the world in both exports and imports, and showed that the renminbi has risen to be the second most used currency on Swift’s messaging system, being involved in 10.7% of transactions.

Commodity prices continue to be a drain on the coffers of resource-rich countries, and the latest data correlates roughly with trends in global trade reported over the first half of 2015, too.

GTR reported in August that world trade contracted by 2% over the first six months of 2015, as sluggish consumer demand combined with slumping commodity prices continue to hit traders hard.

The World Trade Monitor, data from the respected Centraal Planbureau (CPB), the Dutch statistical bureau, shows that despite a recent uptick, trade growth continues to lag that of global GDP after decades of outstripping it.

The full results of the ICC’s survey will be revealed later in September.