Towards a Theory of Trade Finance
University of Oxford
December 29, 2010
Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation WP 10/23
Shipping goods internationally is risky and takes time. Therefore, trading partners not only have to agree on the specification and the price of a good, but also on the timing of payments. To allocate risk and to finance the time gap between production and sale, a range of different payment contracts is utilized, broadly classified into exporter finance (Open Account), importer finance (Cash in Advance) and bank finance (Letter of Credit). I study the optimal choice between these three types of payment contracts considering one shot transactions, repeated transactions and implications for trade. The equilibrium contract is determined by financial market characteristics and contracting environments in both the source and the destination country. Trade increases in enforcement probabilities and decreases in financing costs. The latter effect is the larger, the longer the time needed for trade. I use a panel of bilateral trade flows to test these predictions, running gravity regressions that include interaction terms between distance and financing costs. Results are in line with the model, highly significant and economically relevant.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: trade ﬁnance, payment contracts, trade patterns, distance interaction
JEL Classification: F12, F3, G21, G32working papers series
Date posted: January 1, 2011
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