Standard Bank plc says it still has the capacity to help local customers manage ongoing importation processes from China despite the disruption in global trade.
Standard Bank Malawi plc chief executive officer William le Roux said in an interview that the bank’s capacity under Africa China Agent Proposition (Acap) comes on the back of its global footprint.
He said: “Using our trade teams and global footprint, we can connect customers to new markets and opportunities that have allowed them to navigate in these circumstances.
“Through the Africa China Agent Proposition and Trade Club we have been able to facilitate customers’ trading with China.”
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), global trade has faced major slowdown due to national lockdowns in many economies.
The slowdown has affected local traders and merchants who import from China, with many of them completely halting importation processes.
But Le Roux said the Malawi Stock Exchange-listed bank remains cautious and hopeful on the long-term effects of the pandemic and remedies in place.
“We are expecting to see a slowdown in business volumes emanating from reduced economic activities.
“We also envisage that some of our customers may face challenges with loan repayment which may result in increased non-performing loans. However, we are proactively trying to manage credit risk and impairments.”
Under the facility, Standard Bank is still helping its customers who were already in the process of importing from China.
Acap is a service that helps African importers to smoothly trade with China. The offering connects customers with the right suppliers in China and helps them source and validate the quality of goods they are ordering.
Customers are helped with pre-shipment, shipment and post-shipment activities such as travel logistics, supplier sourcing, goods quality variation, issuance of letter of credit, import financing and cash management facility among other services.
Malawi, being a landlocked country, has also been affected by other restrictive measures that have delayed haulage of goods into the country. As per government’s Covid-19 containment measures, only essential services are being allowed into the country, meaning those whose cargo manages to reach ports such as Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Beira in Mozambique will still have to wait until some restrictions are lifted.
On a larger scale, the bank says in line with its business, there will be disruption in transport and logistics, wholesale, trade and retail, public sector, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, among key sectors.