There were some bright spots in the new ICC trade finance Global Survey, but the overall picture was very mixed. Some excerpts from the Survey follow.

"Overall, the global picture looked brighter in 2011 than in previous years. Volumes in 2011 were up or largely unchanged in most traditional trade products, the overall value of trade finance transactions was also up and the percentage of trade credit lines that were cut for corporate and financial institution customers continued to fall.

"Respondents foreseeing an increase in volume outpaced those predicting a decrease by a ratio of around 2:1. Of the financial institutions responding, 51% reported an increase in export L/C volume and 56% an increase in import L/C volume. Considerable increases were also reported for guarantees (39% on the export side and 47% on the import side).

"The number of court injunctions and refusals still remains high. As an example, issuing banks of commercial letters of credit reported that pressure from applicants to refuse documents had increased from 6% to 14%. Where this was still an issue, the main reason cited was "financial downturn in local market", whereas previous Surveys had reported "falling commodity prices" as the principal reason. The 2012 Survey also showed that 30% of respondents (up from 26%) had experienced an increase in the number of court injunctions stopping payment under bank undertakings.

"Although the overall 2010 versus 2009 growth in SWIFT traffic was 5.81%, in 2011 trade traffic showed a decline of 2.23%. This trend is underlined by the decrease in category 7 traffic of 1.38% and of 4.76% in category 4. Whilst documentary collections represented 30% of total trade traffic in 2003, this figure fell to 25% in 2011.

"Although SWIFT trade traffic decreased in 2011 compared to 2010, there were important differences between regions. Looking at the annual figures, Asia-Pacific is the only region that showed an annual increase of 0.97% for import traffic in 2011. The region that shows the highest annual decrease was Europe-eurozone with 5.85% in 2011 for import traffic.

"From countries with a yearly volume higher than 120,000 trade messages sent (import), the countries with the highest growth in 2011 compared to 2010 were Romania: 34%; Myanmar: 27%; Sri Lanka: 16%; Nigeria: 13%; Indonesia: 12%; Bangladesh: 11%; and China: 11%. The countries with the highest decrease in 2011 compared to 2010 were Iran: 19%; Greece: 16%; Lebanon: 14%; Canada: 11%; Egypt: 10%; Taiwan: 9%; Denmark: 8%; and Spain: 8%."