Trade players swoop in on Greater China

BNP Paribas and Coface announce expansion plans in China and Taiwan.

In yet another sign that trade financiers are placing a greater emphasis on North Asia, BNP Paribas and Coface have announced an expansion of their operations in China and Taiwan.

Coface, the export credit insurance and credit information company, opened an office in Taipei this week, less than a month after setting up another office in Shanghai. Mindy Hung has been appointed to head the Taipei operation.

The move comes on the back of Taiwan's entry into the World Trade Organization, says Jerome Cazes, managing director of the Coface group. "With the entry of both China and Taiwan into the WTO and the prospect of cross-strait trade moving to a reality in the future, this is an ideal time for Coface to establish a presence."

Aside from offering credit insurance to exporters, Coface will be marketing its @rating Solution service, an online trade debt rating system. Earlier this year the company signed a deal with Taiwan's Bank SinoPac to integrate its @rating Solutions system into the bank's product offering for Taiwan exporters. Since then exporters have been using it to conduct real-time credit checks on international buyers.

"The system is making a valuable contribution to local exporters, assisting them to trade more safely and with more reliable trading partners worldwide," says Cazes.

Meanwhile, French bank BNP Paribas has opened a trade centre in Beijing to service its international trade finance clients with operations in China. The centre is one of 70 that BNP Paribas has established around the world. The centres deliver tailor-made trade-related services to exporters and importers in a particular country.

Again, the impetus for this move was China's acceptance into the WTO, says Alain Biscaye, global head of trade for BNP Paribas. The office will be managed by Cindy Xin with support from two trade advisors, Du Jian Wen and Whitney Liu.