The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper assesses the effect of constrained trade finance on trade flows in countries undergoing financial and balance of payments crises. Most of the countries that had a major crisis had a significant trade contraction, while trade-related finance declined sharply. However, trade may also be affected by other variables such as world demand, domestic demand, banking crises, changes in export and import prices, and real exchange rate depreciation. To estimate the effect of constrained trade finance on trade flows, we estimate import and export volume equations including explicitly trade financing as an explanatory variable in addition to the usual variables such as relative prices and income. We conclude that constrained trade finance is a factor in explaining both export and import volumes in the short-run. A fall in external trade finance explains a relatively small part of the trade loss during crises, while a fall in trade financing in connection with domestic banking crisis can lead to a substantial loss of trade.