Letter of Credit? Why is he an entrepreneur? | Предприниматель

Letter of Credit? Why is he an entrepreneur?

Banker about the pros and cons of this tool of international payments.

Author – chairman and co-owner of the Bank “Investtorgbank».

Letter of Credit is a tool in the commission calculation of import and export transactions. Thus it allows us to solve several problems at once – to minimize legal risks associated with lack of knowledge of international law, insures you against unscrupulous partners, and may also serve as a tool lending. How it works and what credit is useful?

Letter of Credit guarantees the legal security of the transaction

Suppose Russian businessman wants to buy the Italian company wallpaper (plumbing, appliances, etc.). After agreeing on the price and conditions, the parties entered into a contract under the laws of the country of one of the parties. In this case, the other party may not be aware of this legislation. Accordingly, in the presence of competent lawyers and attorneys in the absence of such counterparty can be abused.

Risks arise in the second stage – the delivery of products. Here, too, there are two possibilities: either the Italian company sends the wallpaper at your own risk that they will not be paid, or the Russian counterpart to pay for goods in advance, with no guarantees of product delivery in the proper form and on time. Most companies that are already operating successfully in foreign markets may agree with their partners on the calculations on the delivery of the goods. But foreign suppliers are unlikely to agree to such terms with the companies-novices. And to pay up front is not safe and profitable by Russian companies, making the first steps on the international markets.

In this situation, someone has to make a step forward, otherwise the transaction will not take place. The solution may be to use a letter of credit as an international means of payment.

A significant plus letters of credit lies in the legislative aspect: although this form of payment may be differentially regulated in the legislation of any country, there are international Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits – UCP 600) which are developed by the International Chamber of Commerce . And the hand of foreign trade transactions, subordinated credit to these Uniform Rules, has successfully allowed the potential for conflict with domestic law. This submission must be provided in the foreign trade contract, and the contract with the issuing bank. And these same rules say that if something is in the documentary of the transaction were not so, then find out all the relations between the banks themselves, not their customers.

Pay letter of credit

Letters of credit are classified as a reason Documentary Operations – transaction documents play a major role, and banks work just with them, not with the goods. Availability of skilled bankers makes the performance of the contract considerably more secure, orderly and predictable.

The algorithm works with letters of credit is simple. In domestic bank Russian businessman asks a letter of credit in favor of, for example, the Italian distributor for a foreign trade contract. This requires a complete application for a letter of credit, which provides the name of the beneficiary (the seller’s products), the type of credit (usually confirmed), opening date and the expiration of the letter of credit, date and place of shipment and delivery of goods and other settings.
The statement also referred to a list of documents that the supplier must provide the bank to receive payment under the Credit. Typically, this invoice (invoice) and the bill of lading. The less trust between the buyer and the seller, the more documents they can include in the list: quality certificate, certificate of origin, insurance, etc., etc.

In addition to the Russian bank (bank letter of credit issuer) for the implementation of the letter of credit transactions involving foreign banks: Bank of the seller (can function as confirming and fulfilling the advising bank), and if the seller’s bank has no relations with the issuing bank, he will speak only advising bank. In the latter case, the role of confirming and executing bank will execute a foreign bank with a correspondent relationship not only with the issuing bank, but it has set a limit on the credit risk of documentary operations. Typically, this is a very large and well-known overseas bank.

If the supplier has no idea of ??the Russian credit of the issuing bank, it has the right to require the importer to the Russian bank letter of credit has been confirmed he knew the bank. In this case, the confirming bank undertakes for payment under the letter of credit in addition to the obligations of the Russian bank.

Thus, the exporter, having received notice of an incoming letter of credit in favor of it and agreeing to accept it, and ships the wallpaper is confirming bank (through its servicing bank or directly) provided a letter of credit documents, and if the documents meet the requirements of the letter of credit within five business days receive their payment. In other words, the confirming bank, the payment documents made by the executing bank. By the way, at this stage of the interest the seller to deal runs out – he sent the goods in Russia and received the money.

In turn, the Officer (confirmation), the bank receives money from the Russian issuing bank, which pays the buyer, or upon payment to the exporter (letters of credit on demand), or after a certain time (usually no more than one year, including the term of the credit) in the presence of the treaty between the banks. In the latter case we are talking about the so-called post-financing. The advantage of post-financing obvious nominated bank extends credit to a Russian bank, and the last – Russian importer for payment received from the supplier of the goods.

But if the documents do not meet the requirements of the letter of credit, or submitted after the expiry of its term, the nominated bank will make their payment only upon receipt of the consent of the issuing bank of the importer.

Letter of Credit and financing imports

Credit should not only protect the interests of the parties of the foreign trade contract. As a rule, letters of credit are important instruments of international trade finance. This occurs as follows. Importer refers to the issuing bank for the suspension of the execution of its obligations under the letter of credit. The issuing bank can meet the request of his client’s own resources for lending rates of the Russian market (for such transactions is expensive, unattractive and almost never used), or by the resources of a foreign bank that finances the transaction at more attractive rates of the international market. In this case, it also acts as a confirming bank.

If the importer has not provided the issuing bank cash collateral for letters of credit, letter of credit is a loan is a product of nature. The banks make on company applying for a letter of credit, the same requirements as when applying for a loan (financial status and security). Letter of Credit can be used for one-time foreign trade transactions and to fund regular supplies under the credit facility.

How much is it?

Of course, all of these banks have customer service is not free. The cost and the individual terms of service credit institutions may vary, so do not claim to ultimate truth, try to illuminate the whole pricing algorithm in letters of credit.

The importer pays the issuing bank and confirm the value of the cost of funding provided. There may be additional charges according to the rates of the issuing bank, but they will not exceed 1% per annum.

The cost is estimated to confirm the annual percentage rate and the sum of the confirming bank and the issuing bank’s margin. For the average Russian issuing banks confirming bank rate ranged from 1.5% to 4.25% per annum for the term of the letter of credit (although in different countries and in different banks can be for a shorter period) – it depends on the economic situation in the country confirming bank its credit policy and risk assessment confirmation received by the issuing bank and the country of the issuing bank.

The cost of financing is calculated as a percentage per annum, and the sum of rates LIBOR / EURIBOR, rates of foreign financing bank and the issuing bank’s margin. The cost of the financing provided by the bank an average Russian foreign issuing banks, will be LIBOR / EURIBOR plus 3-4.5% per annum for funding.

The margin of the Russian bank-issuer depends on many economic factors, such as the financial situation of the importer, its balances and turnovers in a Russian bank, the quality of collateral.

In any case, the total cost of validation and funding (rates are not cumulative, as each is taken on their terms) should not exceed the threshold at which the validation and international funding ceases to be economically feasible in comparison with the cost of direct Russian loans.

But even if we assume that the interest on the letter of credit and conventional loans are the same, use the letter of credit will be more profitable because of the guaranteed safety calculations.

Letter of credit with post-financing – the most common form of letters of credit for today, because it provides important benefits to the buyer in the financing of international trade activities.

It’s worth noting that the buyer can get a reprieve from the payment and the supplier – the so-called trade credit, which is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the highly competitive European markets, such as wine products on the market that does not exclude the possibility of obtaining post-financing along with deferred payment.

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