Executives from banks and businesses gathered at the ICC Banking Commission’s meeting in Doha Qatar to urge governments and regulatory bodies to rethink regulations that could hinder the trade finance market and economic growth.

“It is crucial that, during this economic crisis, trade finance be freed up to promote economic growth, especially in the developing world,” said Sheikh Khalifa Al Thani, chairman of ICC Qatar and the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the meeting held at the end of March.

“This would stimulate a well-functioning and effective private sector, thereby improving the conditions for investment and trade.”

In order to avoid drafting regulations that may penalise trade, the ICC believes that governments should be taking measures to make trade finance more accessible and affordable.

SMEs, especially those in emerging markets, have particularly struggled to access trade finance.

“SMEs could be the engine of economic growth if given better access to investment through new regulatory frameworks for trade finance,” said Tan Kah Chye, ICC banking commission chair.

The ICC also held a policy consultation with its banking commission members on March 26 ahead of the next G20 Summit.

The consultation stressed that G20 leaders should focus on expanding access to financial services to finance economic growth, particularly in the developing world.

Additionally, regulators believe that the SME sector could be given more opportunities by simplifying regulatory requirements for setting up and doing business. Incentives should also be set up to encourage the financial sector to lend to SMEs.

ICC members also called for a more favourable treatment of trade finance, emphasising that regulations should be based on facts and objective assessments. Classifying trade finance as a high-risk financial instrument, subject to higher capital adequacy requirements, could impact pricing and the supply of trade finance, the members said.

The G20 Summit will be held in Mexico on 18-19 June.