VEB.RF Expert: ‘International Rules of Trade Finance Need to Be Adapted for New Economic Conditions’
With the participation of a VEB.RF expert, the Banking Commission of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) prepared and released a guidance paper on trade finance transactions subject to ICC rules for use at this difficult time. The economic pressures on coronavirus-affected banks are intense. The most important question is whether or not the force majeure provisions of ICC rules can be applied during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As specified in the paper, even where a trade finance transaction is made subject to ICC rules, depending on the applicable law it will require a court or tribunal with jurisdiction, or a government or regulatory authority to make a decision as to whether an event of force majeure is to be declared. The main recommendation made by ICC is that the parties to transactions should resolve any issues through negotiations for mutual benefit. The Commission also provided comments on how to deal with interruptions in the delivery of documents.
The principles laid down in the guidance paper can be applied not only to the uniform rules for documentary credits, guarantees, documentary collections and payments, but also to transactions that are not subject to the rules, for example lending.
VEB.RF is constantly involved with the Paris-based head office of the ICC Banking Commission, working to create the favourable conditions for international payments. ICC rules are indispensable for all kinds of trade finance. VEB.RF co-founded ICC Russia in 2000, serving the interests of the Russian business community.
VEB.RF is represented on the ICC Banking Commission by Alexander Zelenov, Senior Managing Director of Finance. He was a vice-chairman of the ICC Banking Commission for 12 years, was in charge of the Russian National Committee of the ICC Banking Commission for almost 20 years, and was a member of some of the Commission’s working bodies, including the working group that drafted the 2017 version of the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP 600), which has governed the issuance and use of letters of credit for many years.
First Interest-Free Loans Given by SME Bank to Coronavirus-Affected Companies
SME Bank, a subsidiary of RSMB Corporation, has given the first interest-free loans to support coronavirus-affected small and medium-sized enterprises. Support was provided for three cargo carriers in the Krasnodar Territory and the Rostov Region and a freight business in the Perm Territory. The bank lent a total of 17.5 million roubles intended for salaries paid to 175 employees.
With support from SME Bank, the companies will be able to continue operations without interruption and pay stable salaries to their employees. The customers intend to adapt themselves to the new economic environment in the freight services market and maintain their current business.
As the bank’s existing customers, the companies received loans in record time, within one business day.
Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov said: “Another programme we are launching this week is salary loans. The ultimate goal of our policy is to help businesses to retain and keep paying their employees. For this purpose, we’ve launched a rescue scheme: a business will be able to take out a zero-interest loan to pay a minimum wage to each employee. This will help out small and medium-sized enterprises across the industries affected during six months.”
As a reminder, SME Bank launched a new interest-free loan scheme on 1 April 2020 to help SMEs to meet the immediate needs related to supporting and retaining their employees, such as salary payments. The loan amount is calculated on the basis of the region-specific minimum wage and the number of staff members. The loan has a maturity of six months, a balloon payment and an interest rate of 0% p.a.
The new scheme is part of the Russian Government’s prompt measures to support small and medium-sized enterprises. The zero-interest loan has a limit of 5 billion roubles and is backed by a surety bond issued by VEB.RF to SME Bank. As previously noted by VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov, development institutions have all the necessary tools to react flexibly to the needs of the real economy and lend a helping hand to businesses and their employees.
VEB.RF Issues Surety Bonds Worth RUB10bn Each to Promsvyazbank and Otkritie Bank
Overall, VEB.RF has plans to issue surety bonds totalling 100 billion roubles to systemically important banks and SME Bank. The surety bonds are intended to secure the zero-interest loans given to small and medium-sized enterprises to finance their salary payments.
“As part of the Russian Government’s prompt measures to provide support for small businesses, VEB.RF issued surety bonds worth 10 billion each to Promsvyazbank and Otkritie Bank. The commercial banks are our reliable partners, and we have joined forces once again to support small enterprises. The surety bonds are intended to secure the zero-interest loans taken out by businesses for their salary payments. Overall, VEB.RF has plans to issue surety bonds totalling 100 billion roubles,” VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov said.
VEB.RF had previously issued surety bonds worth 20 billion roubles each to Sberbank and VTB to guarantee loans to small businesses.
Bank Syndicate Begins to Provide Financing for RT-Invest’s Largest Energy-from-Waste Project Near Moscow
The syndicate of banks, with VEB.RF’s commitment of 50%, has provided the first tranche to AGC-1, a special purpose entity of RT-Invest, under the Energy from Waste large-scale investment project. The RUB110bn syndicated loan agreement for the period until 2035 was signed in February 2020.
The project involves building four energy-from-waste plants for municipal solid waste (MSW) in the Moscow Region. The plants will be built in the Voskresensk, Solnechnogorsk, Naro-Fominsk and Bogorodsky municipalities.
The project is consistent with a waste treatment hierarchy and the principles of circularity with the following priorities: separate collection, sorting and processing of recyclable materials; generation of energy from waste. This represents a major step forward in building up an integrated waste management system in Russia.
“This is the first tranche of the syndicated loan. VEB.RF’s funding will be used to pay for equipment. Energy from Waste is the largest project under the Environmental Protection national project. VEB.RF carries out a comprehensive programme to build energy-from-waste plants in the regions. The plants in the Moscow Region are a pilot project that will be followed by a whole range of similar projects. The construction of energy-from-waste facilities is well under way, and they will handle a quarter of waste generated by Moscow and the Moscow Region every year,” VEB.RF’s First Deputy Chairman and Member of the Board Nikolay Tsekhomsky said.
According to RT-Invest’s CEO Andrei Shipelov, the goals of zero dumping cannot be achieved without an integrated approach. RT-Invest is Russia’s only group of companies whose business encompasses all stages of MSW management. Its particular focus is on the construction of sorting facilities and on recycling technology. For instance, RT-Invest will put into operation an additional three modern waste treatment plants in the Moscow Region and complete design work on bottom-ash handling technology by the end of this year.
“The projects in the Moscow Region and Tatarstan are currently a showcase for us building the necessary MSW management infrastructure. The energy-from-waste plants are the final link in the chain of residual waste treatment after the necessary sorting and processing of all recyclables,” Andrei Shipelov added.
It is intended that the four energy-from-waste plants will start to process up to 2.8 million tonnes of waste and generate up to 2.2 billion kWh of electricity per year in the Moscow Region in 2022. Their construction uses Hitachi Zosen Inova technology from a global leader in energy from waste.
O3 Company, part of VEB Ventures, is to launch a new product made on the O3-Coatings site in the Rostov Region, namely the TRIOCLEAN PRO™ 0090 professional sanitiser.
The product is intended for human safety and infection control. Its competencies in new-product development, as well as operating its own R&D centre in Skolkovo and a production site in Rostov-on-Don, allowed O3 Company to start the project in a record three weeks.
TRIOCLEAN PRO™ 0090 is consistent with recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) for disinfectants designed to prevent diseases caused by influenza viruses, including A/H1N1, A/H5N1, HPIVs, RTI and SARS viruses, rotaviruses and coronaviruses. TRIOCLEAN PRO™ 0090 is safe for hand skin and suitable for professional disinfection of surfaces. More detailed information about the product can be found at o3.com.
“During such difficult times as we are facing, the ability of high-tech companies to quickly start the production of socially significant goods is to the fore. A large number of major players from a wide range of industries are now keen to contribute to curbing the spread of the pandemic, and we welcome O3 Company’s initiative. The company’s intended output looks impressive: О3 will be able to produce up to 100,000 five-litre containers of the disinfectant a month,” VEB Ventures CEO Oleg Teplov said.
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the resulting shortage of sanitisers, the launch of TRIOCLEAN PRO™ 0090 will add at least 400 tonnes per month to disinfectant production. The new product will be ready for shipment as of 3 April. TRIOCLEAN PRO™ 0090 will be supplied to customers based in Rostov and other Russian regions.