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No Imbalance in Trade Finance Market: WTO's Lamy

CNBC.com
Monday, 14 May 2012 | 6:15 AM ET

Since the euro zone debt crisis hit, there have been worries that, with banks under pressure because of requirements for more capital and because of the crisis itself, trade finance will be affected, and this will slow global trade.

But Pascal Lamy, the World Trade Organization's Director General, told CNBC on Monday that in his opinion Asian banks have stepped in to fill the gap left by European banks in the trade finance market.

Head of the World Trade Organisation Pascal Lamy delivers his speech Tuesday Oct. 18, 2005 at the European Farmers Congress in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union must show flexibility in opening up its agriculture markets to imports, Lamy said. (AP Photo/Christian Lutz)
Christian Lutz
Head of the World Trade Organisation Pascal Lamy delivers his speech Tuesday Oct. 18, 2005 at the European Farmers Congress in Strasbourg, eastern France. The European Union must show flexibility in opening up its agriculture markets to imports, Lamy said. (AP Photo/Christian Lutz)

"My own sense … is that overall while European banks have stepped out of this market for regulatory reasons Asian banks have largely taken their previous positions. So overall the market is not in a sort of imbalance between supply and demand of trade finance but we have … probably an issue on the low end of the market, small banks, small countries, small tickets and that's something which the G20 in Los Cabos probably will have to focus on."

>> Click here for the full interview <<

Foreign direct investment flows have been slower, but mainly in developed markets, according to Lamy.

"There has been a lower level of foreign direct investment," he said. "What's important is that, nevertheless, foreign direct investment in developing countries keeps growing."

In developed markets, investors "are still sitting on bundles of cash" because of the uncertainty, mostly in Europe but also in the U.S. to some extent, Lamy said.

The euro zone should move more toward an integrated approach to the economy in order to overcome its debt crisis, Lamy said.

Critics of the single currency have long said that member countries need more fiscal and political union to make the euro work and that without union, the euro was in danger of disintegrating.

Europe's complex policy-making system has been slammed repeatedly for holding back the European Union and creating unnecessary bureaucracy.

Lamy said that over the next few weeks, European policymakers are likely to find the balance between fiscal rebalancing and growth.

"I personally believe that the proper mix of structural reform…and fiscal adjustment implies a more integrated overall economic and budgetary approach," he told "Worldwide Exchange" in an interview.

Last Saturday, China's central bank cut the amount of cash that commercial banks must hold as reserves in order to boost funds available for lending to the wider economy, as data showed the Chinese economy was slowing at a faster pace than expected.

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