[INTERVIEW] Interview With Jeff Ando on the upcoming 5th Annual Africa Trade And Export Finance Conference To Be Held In Cape Town, 8-9 March.
The Annual Africa Trade & Export Finance Conference is here again, do you foresee a bumpy ride ahead of 2011?
"We are very pleased to revisit the picturesque location of Cape Town. This event is now the leading export finance conference for the continent and we are very proud of what we achieved over the last several years.
Africa is highlighted by many as a new global player having ‘the greatest potential for growth’. The continent is developing some close trade and investment relations with markets such as China and India – this is very lucrative for Africa’s long term development. We also have to remember that the economy is strengthened by a growing middle class, increasing commodity prices and unrivaled natural resources, so it looks like 2011 can be a very good year for doing business in Africa. This does not mean that we will not face difficult challenges though."
How will this conference help to avoid pitfalls, if there will be any?
"We will look into many issues faced by investors and entrepreneurs, like for example outlining political risk concerns throughout the region or protecting the supply chain. We understand the needs of financiers and practitioners in the region and we constantly strive to help them address the hidden hazards. "
What is thetarget audience of the conference?
"Our target audience aretrade financiers and corporates (exporters, importers) as well as commodity brokers, traders, multilaterals, solution providers, lawyers and consultants."
Why should African entrepreneurs attend?
"We place astrong emphasis on the importance of networking, which is always important for business people. More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time – at the end of the day is it all about people and we recognize that. This event is a great opportunity for African entrepreneurs not only to get a detailed insight on the market issues and debate over future prospects but also to meet with the highest level decision makers from across the region."
Can you tell us about what has happened over the years and what might affect trade finance in Africa?
"The recession hit and we’ve seen it all: volatile commodity prices, depreciating currencies and falls in foreign direct investment. Problems that were caused by a financial crisis outside of the continent’s borders have affected trade finance in Africa – banks became edgy, less keen to lend in this kind of environment. However, with the growth of Africa’s export business, south-south trade flows and developed-developing market flows, risk and liquidity appetites are returning"
What are the warning bells?
"Definitely the fluctuating commodity prices - wild swings in prices can destabilize the economies of commodity exporters and importers. Also problems surrounding sovereign and political risk, as many countries are still unstable in terms of the government policies."
What will Basel III bring?
"Sadly, Basel III is not good news for emerging markets. Many industry experts are hugely concerned about the proposals to increase capital requirements for trade.Overall, I see it as prohibitive to trade."
This article was originally posted on South Africa Business Communities