The value of trade finance payments across all currencies has fallen by more than a third in four years, according to data from Swift.

The figure tallies with data from other bodies pointing to the decline in global trade in recent years. World trade is expected to grow by just under 1.7% this year, according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which downgraded its own forecast by more than 1% in September.

Swift’s data is gathered from payments cleared using its messaging system. The data mentioned accounts for so-called “traditional trade finance” – letters of credit and collections. However, in an unusual move, and despite a request from GTR, Swift was unwilling to share the full report which would show its full methodology.

The release claims that the value of Chinese renminbi (Rmb) trade finance payments have crashed by a massive 66% in the four-year period – this is despite the continued hype over the Rmb’s internationalisation and the persistent efforts of China’s government to promote its currency’s use abroad.

The Rmb is now the third most used currency in trade finance, having been overtaken by the euro. However, both currencies are well behind the US dollar, which still enjoys a hegemony in trade finance transactions.