IMPORT FINANCING Background Like other developing countries, Pakistan’s import bill exceeds exports. Therefore, it faces scarcity of foreign exchange to meet its import requirements. According to daily “DAWN” dated 18th November 2012, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves were USD 13. 84 Billion at the week ended as on 9th November 2012. Gap between the import and export bills is partially covered by regulations, controls and measures exercised by State Bank of Pakistan and partially by the international credit, aid, loan agencies like International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB).
State Bank of Pakistan keeps control at a time, over this imbalance by imposing cash margin restrictions on import of general items from time to time. This is done in order to restrict imports and to allow import of only necessary items to fulfill genuine requirements and to discourage import of non-commercial and luxury items. CASE STUDY: On 1st February 2012, restriction on import of CNG cylinders and kits was imposed by Government of Pakistan in view of government policy to discourage use of CNG as a fuel due to its short supply and ever rising demand.
No importer is allowed to import CNG cylinders & kits up till now which is being restricted by SBP & custom authority. Foreign trade involves many risks because of different locations /countries of importer and exporter. Both the parties are doing their businesses in different countries where different laws & regulations apply and it is difficult to settle any dispute regarding goods quality and payment settlement between importer and exporter. For safeguarding interest of both importer and exporter, banks involve in these transactions for smooth settlement between the parties. IMPORTERS
Any body who imports the required goods into the country is called an importer. The importer has to pay the exporter for the value of goods in foreign exchange. Importers are classified into three categories: i) Commercial sector importer i-e. a firm, institution, organization, person or group of persons registered as an importer is called commercial importer. ii) Industrial sector importer i-e. any industrial unit which is registered as importer comes under this category. iii) Public sector importers i-e. the organizations owned by the government which import capital / consumer commodities as per their requirement.
Usually, these organizations are not registered as regular importer and their requests for opening letter of credit is routed through SBP. Letter of Credit (L/C) Letter of Credit is a written undertaking by a bank given to the seller/exporter (beneficiary) at the request and instructions of the buyer/importer (applicant) to pay at sight or at a determinable future date a stated sum of money against the required documents. The documents include commercial invoice, certificate of origin, transport document relating to the mode of transport used (Airway Bill, Bill of Lading, Railway Receipt, Truck Receipt, etc. and other documents required as per terms of letter of credit. Parties to Letter of Credit In documentary credit operations, maximum number of parties involved are as under: i) Applicant (Opener of L/C): The applicant of a credit is an importer or buyer who requests his bank to issue documentary credit in favor of the seller /exporter. ii) Issuing Bank (Opening Bank): The issuing bank is also called importer’s bank. At the request of the applicant, this bank issues the credit in accordance with the instructions of the applicant in favor of the exporter. The letter of credit is sent to the bank in the exporter/seller’s country. ii) Advising Bank: Advising bank is also known as transmitting or correspondent bank in the seller’s country. Issuing bank forwards the advice of the credit by mail or by any means of tele-transmission (i-e. cable, telex, SWIFT, etc. ) to a correspondent bank where the beneficiary business exists. Normally, all L/Cs are sent via SWIFT i-e. Society for Worldwide International Financial Transactions. iv) Beneficiary (Seller or Exporter): The person or body receiving the letter of credit from the importer and/or in whose favor letter of credit is issued is called beneficiary. v) Confirming Bank:
Confirming bank is the bank which at the specific request of the issuing bank adds its confirmation to a letter of credit. Adding confirmation constitutes a definite undertaking of the confirming bank, in addition to that of the issuing bank. vi) Negotiating Bank: Negotiating Bank is the bank which receives the documents against letter of credit as authorized bank. This bank has to give value for drafts and/or documents under L/C conditions. Negotiating Bank may or may not be the Advising Bank. This bank examines the documents against L/C, and if found in order, negotiates the documents and makes payment to the seller.
The negotiating bank dispatches the documents to the Issuing Bank claiming reimbursement from the bank as mentioned in the L/C and as agreed between the two banks. The Negotiating Bank should ensure before lodgment of reimbursement claim that all terms of letter of credit have been complied with. vii) Reimbursing Bank: Reimbursing bank is the bank which, on behalf of the opening bank, honors the reimbursement claim lodged by the Negotiating Bank. MODES OF PAYMENT OF L/Cs There are four modes of payments of letters of credit as detailed under: (i) L/C available by Negotiation:
If L/C provides for negotiation to pay without recourse to drawers and/or bonafide holders in terms of credit. Negotiation means the payment of value for draft(s) and/or documents by the bank authorized to negotiate complying with the terms of L/C. (ii) L/C available by Acceptance: In case the credit calls for a usance draft and is available by acceptance on the issuing bank, and the seller submits all the documents including usance bill of exchange to a nominated or another bank complying all the terms and conditions of the credit, the seller receives acceptance of the payment at maturity date.
However, under a separate arrangement, he may get his usance draft discounted by the bank in order to meet his cash flow requirements. In such case, seller has to bear discount charges. (iii) L/C available by Sight Payment: If the beneficiary of letter of credit is to obtain payment immediately on presentation of stipulated documents, it is the sight letter of credit. In this case the exporter draws a sight or demand draft payable at the counters of the advising bank or the bank specified in the letter of credit.
The draft is paid on presentation provided that all the other terms of L/C have been complied with. (iv) L/C available by Deferred Payment: In this case, L/C opening bank has to effect payment after a period specified in the L/C, calculated as to the number of days after the date of presentation of documents or after the date of shipment. Such L/C does not require drafts to be drawn or presented alongwith other documents. RETIREMENT OF DOCUMENTS When the documents are received from foreign bank, L/C opening bank affixes “Dak Received” stamp and enters the same in “Dak Received Register”.
The duplicate set of documents, received by the bank, is kept with original set of documents and duplicate should be separate from the original. The bank verifies that all the documents are received as specified in the forwarding schedule of the negotiating/exporter’s bank. While scrutinizing the documents, it is also ensured that all the documents have been received as per terms of L/C. The retirement of documents can be made by the following means:
• Through debit to the customer’s account
• Through Trust Receipt Facility (FTR) offered by the bank.
• Through Finance against Imported Merchandise (FIM)
THROUGH DEBIT TO CUSTOMER’S ACCOUNT In case customer/importer has sufficient funds to settle the bill, Cost Memo is prepared and amount in foreign currency is converted into Pak Rupees at Selling TT & OD rate of exchange. Any foreign correspondent charges and service charges are added to it. Customer issues cheque / authority letter to debit his account for bill amount plus mark-up and other charges. After receiving the amount, title documents are endorsed by two authorized signatories and the same are delivered to customer against proper acknowledgement.
In case, importer has not sufficient funds to settle the bill, he can avail finance from bank to settle the claim. Credit facilities available to the importer are explained hereunder: A. FUND BASED FACILITIES 1. FINANCE AGAINST TRUST RECEIPT (FATR) If customer desires to retire the documents through Trust Receipt facility, a request letter to this effect is obtained from him. In this case, bank releases documents of the goods to importer so that he may clear the goods from custom authorities. Payment is settled by the bank and reimbursement is made to foreign bank.
The bank has lien on receivables in this case and importer repays the bank finance after sale of the goods. Trust Receipt should not be allowed against Usance L/C unless specific approval from the authority is held. Following documents are obtained before releasing the documents on Finance Against Trust Receipt: ? Letter of Request from the customer / importer ? Bill of Exchange duly accepted by the party ? Demand Promissory Note ? Trust Receipt ? Collateral (if any) as per limit approval ? Invoice ? Agreement of Mark-up The Trust Receipt facility can only be extended upto 45/60 days or as per terms of sanction. . FINANCE AGAINST IMPORTED MERCHANDISE (FIM) This is a sale transaction at a price mutually agreed upon between the bank and the importer. The sale price consists of value of goods or documents of title to goods and margin of profit. The sale price is payable by the buyer on deferred payment basis either in part or in lump sum. This facility is granted for a period of 60 days or as per sanction advice. Following documents are obtained from the party: ? Letter of Request from the customer / importer ? Demand Promissory Note ? Letter of Indemnity for clearance of consignment ?
Letter of Pledge ? Agreement of Mark-up This type of facility is against pledge of imported stocks and its process / transaction flow is similar to that of Self-Liquidating Inventory Finance. TRANSACTION FLOW: Goods imported through L/C, when reach the port in importer’s country, there is a process of releasing the goods from custom authorities. For this purpose Clearing Agents on the panel of bank. The clearing agent after clearing the goods, transports the same via Goods Transport Companies to the destination of the importer. At importer’s business premises / factory, etc.
Bank Muccadam is available to take over the custody of the goods as soon as these are received at the site. These goods are kept under pledge arrangement and bank takes effective control & possession of the imported goods. B. NON-FUND BASED FACILITIES 3. USANCE LETTER OF CREDIT This type of letter of credit is issued with a condition that payment will be made after some specified period of time i-e. 180 days, 365 days, etc. The bank undertakes to pay the exporter for the value of goods at some later date in order to facilitate the importer to arrange funds for settlement of the transaction.
Usance letter of credit is very useful facility in which importer not only avails the opportunity of time available to pay his liabilities but also he saves borrowing costs due to difference of LIBOR and KIBOR. At present KIBOR is upto 10% whereas LIBOR is ranging from 0. 5% to 1% for the last two to three years. In case of Usance L/C, the importer will have to pay the value of goods alongwith some additional profit/surcharge levied by the exporter (which is included in the Invoice Value) for allowing repayment period to importer.
Exporter will calculate this additional profit on transaction on the basis of LIBOR (0. 70%) instead of KIBOR (10%). In case importer avails the credit lines to settle the import bill from his local bank, he will bear the borrowing/financing cost on the basis of KIBOR which is far above than LIBOR. 4. SHIPPING GUARANTEE The shipping guarantee is issued in favor of the local shipping agents for obtaining delivery order to clear goods from port / customer authorities in the absence of original shipping documents of L/Cs. This guarantee is issued on prescribed from provided by the shipping company.
This guarantee is signed by the importer and counter-signed by the bank. Following documents are required from the customer at the time of issuance of shipping guarantee: ? Letter of Request from the customer / importer ? Copy of Invoice ? Copy of Bill of Lading / transport document ? Format of the shipping guarantee to be issued ? Counter guarantee in favor of the bank duly signed by the customer ? Letter of undertaking regarding exchange rate fluctuation ? Undertaking to accept the draft in case of usance L/C ? Undertaking to accept all discrepancies in the documents
Liability under the shipping guarantee shall be reversed only after the surrender of the original bill of lading against which guarantee has been issued and the receipt of original guarantee from the shipping company. On receipt of original bill of lading, this is forwarded to the shipping company alongwith request to return the original guarantee. This facility is very short term nature normally 30 days. B. EXPORT FINANCE In order to strengthen its position in the international markets, Pakistan has to strive for improving its balance of trade by increasing its exports.
As such exports have been the top priority of the government’s agenda to improve the position of foreign exchange earning of the country. Banks have a very important role to play in trade activities of the country. Banks act as agents for both the importers and exporters and play important role in the development of country’s trade. While handling export transactions, Credit Manager and/or Export staff of the bank must always keep into consideration the following: ? Export Policy Order of the government for the financial year ?
Guidelines/instructions of Export Promotion Bureau ? State Bank of Pakistan Foreign Exchange Circulars ? Bank’s Foreign Exchange Regulations and FEX circulars ADVISING OF EXPORT LETTERS OF CREDIT Letters of credit received from foreign banks are advised to the beneficiaries in Pakistan through L/Cs advising departments of the bank. All L/Cs received are carefully scrutinized for their authenticity adhering to the terms & conditions and complying with our Foreign Exchange Regulations and International laws & publications (UCP 500). FORM “E”
No person can export any goods from Pakistan unless he is duly registered as an exporter with Export Promotion Bureau under the registration “Importer & Exporter Order 1952”. Blank “E” Forms are issued to exporters, against written request, free of any charges. In order to export, the exporter will provide details on “E” form in respect of goods, quantity, invoice value of goods, terms of sale, destination and name & address of the importer. This “E” form is the main document to calculate value of goods exported and is used to control the export of any item from Pakistan.
CASE STUDY: During October 2012, Government of Pakistan allowed export of 200,000 tons of sugar from Pakistan with a condition that one sugar mill can export maximum upto 10,000 tons of sugar. This maximum quantity of sugar (10,000 tons) exported by any single sugar mill to be controlled by the “E” Form submitted by the exporting sugar mill. In case of any effort of sugar mill to exceed export from 10,000 tons, SBP can very easily trace this from the record of “E” form available in its record. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the types of financing available to exporter. . FOREIGN DOCUMENTARY BILLS PURCHASED AGAINST L/Cs This type of financing is referred to as Foreign Bills Purchased (FBP). Only those documents are purchased which are negotiable and which conform to the terms of letters of credit. The documents are forwarded to the L/C opening bank and payment is received through bank’s foreign correspondents maintaining NOSTRO account in various currencies. Following documents are submitted by the exporter for negotiation: ? Original Letter of Credit (L/C) ? Documents of title to goods (Bill of lading, Airway bill, etc. ? Bill of Exchange (B/E) ? Commercial Invoice ? Certificate of Origin ? Packing List ? Insurance Policy ? Any other document as per terms of L/C FBP is practical example of “Factoring” in which bank purchases the receivable of the client/exporter after making payment and takes the responsibility of collection of the receivable at its own end. The exporter transfers all rights of ownership of the documents to the bank and authorization to claim reimbursement from the L/C opening bank. This transaction is to be handled with extreme care, vigilance and diligence.
All the financial and commercial documents are scrutinized as per terms & conditions of L/C. Documents after careful scrutiny are forwarded to the L/C opening bank and claim of reimbursement is made as well. On realization of the bill, FBP is settled /adjusted. 2. FOREIGN DOCUMENTARY BILLS FOR COLLECTION Financing against foreign bills is made on export bills which are drawn under Letter of credit and are sent for payment under documentary collection. This is a sale transaction at a price mutually agreed upon between the buyer (bank) and seller (exporter).
The documents are sold to the bank and sale proceeds will be credited in the account of seller (exporter). This type of export finance is termed as “Finance against Foreign Bills” (FAFB). All other procedures of FAFB are similar to FBP except that under FAFB in the event of non-payment of the bill by L/C opening bank or importer, the exporter undertakes to repurchase the same documents at bank’s marked up price. FAFB is the practical example of “Lien on Receivables”. 3. FINANCE AGAINST PACKING CREDIT (FAPC)
Packing Credit is a sort of pre-shipment or pre-export finance, extended to prime & valued customers (exporters) against valid letter of credit / firm contract order. The finance is provided to the exporter for the following: ? Purchase of goods ? Freight charges ? Clearing forwarding charges ? Export duty, etc. ? Packing requirements Finance against packing credit is granted for 180 days or upto the period the shipment of goods is affected whichever is earlier. Lien is marked on the Letter of Credit / Firm Contract in order to prevent negotiation of documents.