HSBC has launched a commodity and structured trade finance team in Dubai, headed by Ali Shafqat.

Shafqat moved with the bank from London to Dubai in April last year with a brief to set up the team, and now has a group of eight Dubai-based people reporting to him.

Tim Evans, HSBC’s Mena regional head of global trade and receivables finance, tells GTR that the team is now open for business, and will be focusing on food stuffs, oil and gas, and base metals, including steel, aluminium and copper. Its remit will not include precious metals.

Shafqat reports to Evans in Dubai, and functionally to Jean-Francois Lambert, the bank’s global head of commodity and structured trade finance.

“Trade in Mena is no longer just bog standard letters of credit. We are seeing an increased demand for commodity and structured trade facilities as well as receivables finance,” says Evans.

“We thought that instead of supporting this business like a lot of banks have done traditionally out of Geneva or Paris, that we would have a team on the ground looking to do that.”

He adds that the new business will offer the Mena market something new and different. “Hopefully we’ll get first-mover advantage. There are other banks that do it, but it hasn’t been a key focus.”