The offering, which is expected to connect African importers and Chinese exporters and open China to Africa, was officially launched in Nigeria on Tuesday 21 May, 2019, and will also be launched in Ghana and South Africa with other markets in Standard Bank’s African footprint to follow before the end of 2019.
Currently, Nigerian importers order from only a handful of trusted Chinese suppliers. This limits the negotiating power of African importers while stacking the terms of trade against them. While ordering online provides access to a wider range of suppliers, online imports cannot guarantee the quality of goods. In most cases too, advance payments for goods are required. This is often demanded in cash, without reciprocal guarantees of delivery or quality. This means that Nigerian importers often carry a disproportionate burden of risk in most transactions. Language and cultural barriers are also a challenge for African importers when traveling and negotiating supplier agreements in China.
In response to these challenges, and in light of the vast opportunity that China presents as a trading partner, Standard Bank, the biggest bank in Africa, has leveraged its partnership with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the biggest bank in the world, to connect African importers with a dedicated trade agent in China.
“The ACAP offering- underpinned by a letter of credit- will deepen trust in Africa-China trade relationships, guaranteeing African importers access to the best suppliers in China, the best payment terms and the best quality,” said Dr. Manessah Alagbaoso, Head, Africa China Integration, Standard Bank. If any of the terms of the letter of credit are not met, payment will not be made.
As such, the offering will, “place African importers in a much stronger negotiating position when it comes to the price, quality and efficiency of importing Chinese goods,” stated Dr. Alagbaoso. At the same time, “Chinese suppliers can be confident that once the terms of the letter of credit have been met, payment will be made in full and on time – guaranteed by Stanbic IBTC Bank or Standard Bank and ICBC,” added Dr. Alagbaoso.
In his remarks, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, Dr. Demola Sogunle, reaffirmed the bank’s objective of constantly exploring opportunities of adding significant value to the businesses of its customers. “Stanbic IBTC has established market leadership in several financial services segments, and our ultimate goal is to continually leverage on our connections, knowledge and experience in delivering impeccable service and value that would similarly make our customers not just get ahead but emerge leaders in their respective business segments and ACAP is another of such enablers”, said Sogunle.
Zhejiang International Trading Supply Chain Co. Ltd (Guomao) is the first Chinese Trade Agent nominated by ICBC to partner with Standard Bank to assist African importers trade seamlessly with China. “Guomao currently has almost 10 000 suppliers that meet the import needs of our clients,” says Dr. Alagbaoso. Where the need of a client falls outside of the supplier base that Guomao currently has, they will source new suppliers for that need after going through a process of new supplier validation and verification.
Guomao will assist Nigerian importers with services such as source the right suppliers, negotiate the best prices and trade conditions, arrange for African importers to travel to China and meet with a broad range of suppliers, provide translators to facilitate trade negotiations and discussions and source and validate the quality of goods. Other functions the agent would offer are to provide quality guarantees on goods from those Chinese suppliers recommended by the trade agent, ensuring that quality meets the expectations of African importers, rectify any quality issues on behalf of the African importer, finance imports based on a letter of credit from Standard Bank and ICBC as required and handle shipping logistics.
With over 20 years’ experience in foreign trade procurement services, Guomao provides a one-stop foreign trade supply chain, supply chain finance, and cross-border e-commerce supply chain service, “able to help Standard Bank’s clients navigate China’s foreign trade supply chain and trade seamlessly,” he added. In time, Standard bank’s ACAP offering will include other Chinese trade agents in other key international trade hubs of China, deepening access to China’s supplier universe.
Importantly, the ACAP offering will ease the cash flow of African importers. “Since Chinese suppliers will be secure in their possession of an ICBC-underwritten letter of credit, African importers will be able to receive goods before payment is made,” said Dr. Alagbaoso. This will allow African importers to keep cash in the business for growth.