Structured Commodity and Trade Finance

By July 13, 2017 Accounting

Brief: 123315

What is Structured Commodity and Trade Finance, and what are the chief legal issues involved?

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Part One – What is Structured Commodity and Trade Finance?

Hagiographas on this construct refer to the diction of Structured Trade and Commodity Finance, to which MacNamara creates the acronym SCTF and denotes the definition:

“Structured trade and trade good finance is defined as cross-border trade finance in emerging markets where the purpose is to acquire repaid by the settlement of a flow of trade goods.[ 1 ]

However, MacNamara admits in his authorship that merely paid specializers in the field of market analysis are competent plenty to be able to hold on the construct to the full and, as is required in the legal universe, recognise possible booby traps so as to to the full grok the attendant legal spectrum of this signifier of fiscal activity [ 2 ] .

For the current intents of this paper it will hence be necessary to farther interrupt down the phrase into its component parts so as to clear up the full visual aspect and procedure of this signifier of loaning and investing. The component parts are hence jointly ; trade goods, constructions, trade and finance and portion one will analyze and specify each in bend.

In add-on to these four key elements, the above definition by MacNamara besides refers to the procedure of usage by emerging markets and refund through settlement of trade goods. Part two will therefore explore the legal issues associated with STCF. This apprehension of legal issues is indispensable in order to be able to grok the planetary placing of STCF and whether this placing is in fact appropriate for such a alone and interesting method of finance.

Therefore, without farther vacillation, it is clear that the procedure of interrupting down the constitutional portion of STCF does non necessitate a definition of both trade and finance as these are self explanatory constructs that result in a first comprehension of STCF as a method of obtaining money. This arises via usage of the word, finance and would pull any pupil in the field of capital markets to try to put STCF into either the equity or debt finance class. MacNamara’s definition clearly states that the procedure involves refund and hence, STCF fits nicely into the debt finance construct. This is a instead obvious realization but it is critical in order to to the full understand the legal issues involved in this procedure, all of which will be dealt with in portion two.

( a ) What are Commodities?

There is no existent statutory definition of trade goods but they are defined by faculty members such every bit Angell as ‘basic, generic goods [ 3 ] ’ but these are best explained in footings of the undermentioned construct, which is, if money did non be but there was an built-in desire for a currency, which goods or ‘commodities’ would be used for this intent? In universe trade, basic generic goods carry the luck of being the kinds of points that are universally recognised for their built-in value as a natural stuff.

( I ) Hard Commodities

These include metals, cotton and oil, which is the highest trading trade good for the simple ground that it commands high bets in the political and material schemes of international trade. An illustration of the power of oil is clearly seeable with the relationship between the USA and Saudi Arabia whereby the usual cultural clangs of these two really different states are swept aside in the name of oil [ 4 ] .

As for metal, this has been a standard trade good for over 150 old ages and the London Metal Exchange ( LME ) [ 5 ] , which was set up in 1877, continues to put the benchmark monetary value for over 80 % [ 6 ] of the world’s non-ferrous [ 7 ] metal trading. MacNamara does nevertheless indicate out the unusual fact that steel itself is non used as a trade good with which to merchandise but any industrial expert would non be surprised at this disclosure as steel is a manmade substance of several metals and the industrial procedure of industry renders it an insecure trade good option due to the high hazard of sabotage.

( two ) Soft Commodities

In contrast to difficult trade goods, soft trade goods cover all things perishable but nevertheless valuable. These include crop-based or hard currency harvest points that are by and large exported by the 3rd universe but purchased and processed by the West. These typically include java, chocolate sugar and grain. Again the importance of these trade goods is the fact that, unlike many goods that fall in and out of the mores of manner, these few points will ever be traded.

( three ) What has happened to trade good finance over the old ages? – Hazard factors and moral contentions.

In order to to the full understand the precise nature of STCF, it is every bit indispensable non merely to grok what trade goods are but besides to to the full appreciate the political context in which they are placed. This besides goes a long manner to assistance in the consideration of legal issues that are dealt with in portion two.

Like the universe of Banking, trade in trade goods has besides been fraught with danger posed by a few knaves and fraudsters [ 8 ] but the sad fact is that the stereotyped and frequently accurate image of the types of states that are dependent on this signifier of finance are besides run by corrupt Governments where enterprises such as our current Banking supervising regulations and guidelines are non in topographic point to supervise, study and stop illegal activities such as money laundering. The consequence is that 3rd universe states remain in the rut of being classified as high-risk, volatile markets, with the consequence that this possible fiscal line of life of trade goods as a clear signifier of security in emerging markets is denied [ 9 ] . This repute is non sole to the Banking universe and MacNamara identifies that fact that the environmental anteroom respect the usage of trade goods as development of the 3rd universe [ 10 ] . Groups that are against the oncoming of globalization regard the trade limitations of the 3rd universe from being able to export anything other than natural stuffs as a moral insult on the phase of planetary trade. The add-on of a trade good inducement merely fuels this tendency and together with the stultifying export revenue enhancements that are typical of manufactured goods, the 3rd universe is left without a pick but to export natural stuffs [ 11 ] .

Unfortunately, this new contention blurs the true nature of trade goods and MacNamara regards the attitudes of conservationists as utterly perverse:

“…with a batch of pre-financing constructions, non merely are they ( trade goods ) a line of life to people in states otherwise without recognition entree, but besides they may at least guarantee that the financess go to person really making/growing/mining or polishing something, instead than to construct some dramatic new privy for the presidential castle.[ 12 ]

In the latter portion of this statement, MacNamara refers to the putrefaction of station Second World War adoption that took topographic point at the custodies of corrupt and mercenary leaders, which is now owed to the World Bank and a host of Western States, all of whom are presently being lobbied to call off.

These political and on-going contentions have created a head covering of ignorance in the 21stcentury as to the true individuality and potency for trade goods. MacNamara wrote in 2001 of the ‘recent events’ that are originating to fuel the return to popularity of the trade good but at that clip, this reaction was fuelled by the Spring 2000 rush in oil to over $ 30 per barrel! With a record trade over $ 73 a barrel [ 13 ] within the last hebdomad the critical, future function and possible maltreatment of the trade good finance system will go wholly clear.

( B ) What are constructions?

MacNamara recites many pages on this topic but alternatively of giving a full definition of constructions, he provides illustrations of climes in which structures either work or merely look to work by virtuousness of the determination of the debitor to fulfill the debt. However by giving these illustrations it becomes clear that structures or structured finance is synonymous with securitization. This is besides made evident by the connexion created between the two phrases by Timmons in Business Week:

The $ 7 trillion Wall Street industry packages companies ‘ watercourses of future grosss — everything from credit-card to mortgage payments to natural-gas gross revenues — as securities and sells them to investors. Structured finance, or securitization, has become the lubricating oil that keeps capital markets whirling.[ 14 ]

Therefore the impression of structuring finance in relation to trade goods is to put up a projection of trade good value, based on dispersed sheet analysis and this is used in order to cipher the hazard factors of STCF. More on the methodological analysis of spread-sheet projection will be referred to in portion two.

Part Two – The legal issues involved in STCF

Legal issues refering to STCF are twofold. First there is the jurisprudence that regulates the procedural issues and secondly there is the jurisprudence pertaining to the ordinance of possible maltreatment. Each of these will be analysed in bend.

1.Legal issues refering to the disposal of STCF

( a ) Problems with the usage of standard signifier banking contracts in STCF

To get down with, the puting up of a STCF is governed by the jurisprudence of contract of which the legal power is clearly determined by the catching parties and set out in the legal power clause. Therefore, rather merely, the legal issues for this facet of STFC are the contents of the contract and the banking Torahs under-which both the contract and its dialogue are set out.

These two countries are inextricably linked but MacNamara points out that the usage of standard signifiers under such banking regulations as the US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ( GAAP ) [ 15 ] for a STCF trade is non the wisest of picks:

“…very few are written from abrasion, and while most will be ‘legally valid, binding and enforceable’ in the legal sense, this is some distance from stating that they needfully achieve the commercial intents of the supporters of the trade.[ 16 ]

The ground for this interesting penetration is that STCF is non designed to be a to the full fledged banking installation and to establish the trade good on the a-typical balance-sheet projection is to render oneself vulnerable to the booby traps of sudden trade good value alteration and this is extremely likely in today’s clime given the go oning rush of the monetary value of oil [ 17 ] .

Therefore, the ideal pick is to pay attending to the single constituents of the STCF contract so as to be able to build a more specialized and appropriate understanding.

( B ) Propositions for the appropriate legal contract

The first impression is to ever include definitions within the text of the contract but MacNamara identifies that there is no demand to develop the frequently adopted step of including obvious definitions within the text of the STCF contract. To that terminal, MacNamara provides a figure of definitions for cardinal constructs such as ‘business days’ , ‘events of default’ , and ‘finance parties’ [ 18 ] , but upon analysis of the list produced an statement is developed for the debut of a consolidating, international pact of definitions of contractual footings. The ground for this penetration is that the nature of the animal that is STCF will bring forth a cragged contract for which incentives to shorten and standardise demand to be considered in this current planetary clime where STCF dialogues are on the addition [ 19 ] .

The 2nd consideration is that of the understanding itself and to that terminal, both the intent and application for which financess are sought demands to be laid out absolutely. In this sense, there is a clear blessing of current banking patterns given that the intent of a loan must organize portion of the equation of hazard appraisal. MacNamara provinces:

“…if the intent and application of financess is non purely controlled, loaners may happen themselves taking on instead more hazard than they truly anticipated[ 20 ]

Indeed, an overview of the specifications that are pointed out by MacNamara on the point of STCF understanding contents is a clear and concise advice construction that ought to be followed. One major ground for this is that the parametric quantities given for single contractual clauses such as ‘information of delivery’ , the ‘acceleration clause’ , and ‘illegality/changes in circumstances’ [ 21 ] , are both comprehensive and located within a individual location. Indeed, primary beginnings on the subject of STCF are virtually non-existent and of the statute law that does be, it is strictly engaged in the ordinance of trade good minutess and this will be dealt with below.

The clear usage of standard banking signifiers is non ideal given the alone nature of the STCF and hence an wholly new legal premiss demands to be adopted for the STCF. Among faculty members in this field MacNamara is one of merely a pathetic few [ 22 ] who present an expert penetration into this signifier of funding and to that terminal, this analysis of the legal issues associating to STCF hold revealed a demand for reforms that will make a individual beginning of jurisprudence for this sort of finance and MacNamara ought to take the helm.

2.Regulation of Commodity Exchanges – the demand to bring forth equal jurisprudence to cut down disgusting drama.

In add-on to the legal issues associating to the documental demands of STCF minutess, there is a clear demand for external ordinance.

A recent article draws attending to the pattern of carrying soft trade goods in the signifier of militias [ 23 ] . While the capable affair of the article was mentioning to the depletion of such grain militias in China, the fact is that there is a clear presence of the pattern of carrying militias that carries the hazard of pull stringsing the market. However, this can merely go on where trade goods become so rare as to be capable of making a market use by the mere creative activity of a smattering of big reserves. We are nevertheless heading for such high hazards at this clip. In the first topographic point the additions in planetary heating will hold an inauspicious consequence on crops so as to force up the monetary value of grain thereby increasing reserves for states with excess at the disbursal of importing provinces. In the 2nd topographic point, bing reserves of oil in the current extortionate market of over $ 73 a barrel are an inauspicious part to the monetary value additions that are besides driven by scarceness of this trade good.

In visible radiation of this sort of activity, the effects for STFC are clearly that states with excess supplies would be able to unnaturally pull strings the market monetary value of trade goods for the intent of being able to neutralize a smaller proportion of the full reserve, output or crop in order to fulfill the debt. Furthermore, future STFC trades could be negotiated in conformity with the new, hyperbolic trade good monetary values. All this would clearly happen at the disbursal of the importing province but the more alarming consequence is that sudden settlement will put these trade goods back into circulation, thereby cut downing their value.

This easy constitutes a signifier of market use but the job is that this is non adequately defined in the prima statute law on this affair in the USA or the UK. The former legal power regulates the exchange of trade goods under the Commodity Exchange Act 1936 and faculty members are alarmed by the absence of an equal significance for market use. Kozinn wrote in 2000:

“Problematically, nevertheless, the ( Commodity Exchange ) Act does non specify the words ‘manipulation, ’ ‘corner’ or ‘squeeze’ despite the fact that Congress explicitly deemed such activity harmful. Furthermore, the legislative history fails to supply utile information for clear uping what Congress would represent use.[ 24 ]

However the US instance ofCargil Inc V Hardin[ 25 ] market use was defined in footings of:

“…any activity, strategy or ruse that intentionally influences the monetary value of a fiscal plus, ensuing in a monetary value other than the 1 that would hold resulted in the absence of such intervention…[ 26 ]

In footings of the stockpiling activity that can take topographic point in order to pull strings the monetary value of trade goods, it is clear that despite unfavorable judgment of this definition [ 27 ] , the above paragraph is sufficient to forbid manipulative stockpiling.

Further to this, the UK equivalent of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 refers to the prohibition of misdirecting statements, patterns and behavior [ 28 ] as opposed to the term, ‘market manipulation.’

It is the precursor of Europe that has at last broken land with the passage of the Market Abuse Directive [ 29 ] which really defines the phrase as something:

“…which spring ( s ) , or are likely to give, false or deceptive signals as to the supply of, demand for or monetary value of fiscal instruments…[ 30 ]

Once once more the hypothesis is that this definition will fulfill to forbid carrying for the intent of guaranting a market rise. This at least represents the first measure towards modulating a planetary economic system that will see a rise in STCF against the background of the of all time rarer and more valuable trade good of oil and, rather practicably, grain in the heater climates of our non so distant hereafter.


Structured Trade and Commodity Finance is evidently an progressively of import country of emerging-markets imparting that basically consists of the pattern of loaning on the footing of seeing debts satisfied through the settlement of trade goods. However the stigma of association with encouragement for emerging markets to keep natural stuff production and the corrupt 3rd universe have resulted in the production of a sedate image of this signifier of funding in the eyes of both anti-globalization lobbyists and the planetary banking community.

However, compared to any other signifier of loaning or investment in the emerging markets, structured trade and trade good trades are lasting and as pointed out by MacNamara, tendencies of the hereafter dictate that this signifier of loaning is on the addition with ace valuable trade goods such as oil as the taking front-runners in STCF trades.

The lone job is that the banking universe has mostly forgotten the existent nature of STCF and as a consequence both the contractual signifiers used for such trades and the statute law in topographic point for the ordinance of trade good or market use have displayed, until merely really late, a pronounced insufficiency. While the latter looks set to be saved by the benchmark of astute EU statute law it seems obvious that the battle to obtain a more appropriate, legal contractual signifier is best established by MacNamara and that hence, the lone obstruction to this is the pride of the international banking community!




Directing 2003/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on insider covering and market use ( market maltreatment ) [ 2003 ] OJ L96/16

United kingdom

Financial Services and Markets Act 2000

United states

Commodities Exchange Act 1936 ( CEA )

Case Law

Cargil Inc V Hardin 452 F 2d 1154, 1163, 1167-70

Santa Fe Industries, Inc V Green, 430 US 462, 476 ( 1977 )

Text Book Publications

MacNamara. J, 2001,Structured Trade and Commodity Finance: What can travel incorrect and how to avoid it,Woodhead Publication

Angell. G, 1985,Real-time Proven Commodity Spreads, The Twenty Most Consistently Profitable Tradesx, Windsor Books

Robertson, R, 2000,Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture, SAGE Publications Inc


Giunipero. L, 2001,Buying patterns in Saudi Arabia – an exploratory analysis, International Journal of Physical Distribution & A ; Logistics Management, 31 ( 9 ) , 686-704

Suhas. K and Dilip R, 2001, Development Financing During a Crisis: Securitization of Future Receivables, Policy, Research working paper ; no. WPS 2582, Available Online At: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Timmons. H. September 2, 2002,Everybody out of the Risk Pool? ,Business Week, New York, Available Online At: hypertext transfer protocol: // extID=10038 & A ; data=structured_finance

Woolcock. K. , 2006,Possibly we should non be rather so hungry for globalisation,The Daily Telegraph, Thursday, April 20Thursday, 2006

Kozinn. B.E. , 2000,The Great Copper Caper: Is Market Manipulation Really Problem in the Wake of the Sumitomo Debacle? ,69 Fordham Law Review 243

Easterbrook. F.H. , 1986,Monopoly, Manipulation, and the Regulation of Future Markets,59 J Bus S 102

Internet Resources

The London Metal Exchange:

High Performance Conductors:

Bloomberg: hypertext transfer protocol: //

US General Accepted Accountancy Principles: hypertext transfer protocol: //

Finance Magazine: hypertext transfer protocol: // page=8 & A ; sector=1



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