Simone Krummaker, Mathias Bärtl

This contribution provides practical guidelines for the utilisation of machine learning techniques to predict the occurrence of claims in export credit finance.

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In the summer semester 2020, researchers from the Institute for Trade and Innovation (IfTI) conducted a project with more than 30 Master students from Offenburg University’s Faculty of Business and Industrial Engineering. Participants explored government measures for exporters in times of the corona pandemic. The essays are available here:

Austria (Laura Diepolder, Isabella Dietmeier and Franziska Fechter)

Belgium (Philipp Harter and Marie Labudda)

Canada (Fabian Seibold and Melina Weitzer)

Denmark (Sonja Gerst, Chiara Hettig and Marc Matheis)

Estonia (Erki Aamer, André-Julian Becher and Marco Mütsch)

Finland (Paul Klöffer, Henrik Schwarz and Jonas Griner)

France (Franziska Dresel, Alexander Grimm and Saskia Keck)

Germany (Alisa Fischer, Marius Oßwald, Steffen Wenzel and Michael Santo)

Italy (Danilo Guaglianone and Tobias Mauderer)

Slovakia (Bianca Krämer and Marcel Bernhard)

Spain (Robin Feißt, Lukas Merkel and Philipp Müller)

Switzerland (Christian Leier, Tanja Huber and Natalie Walz)

United Kingdom (Lena-Louise Jachwitz, David Schäfer and Simon Schmutz)

Benedict Oramah (Afreximbank and Offenburg University), Richman Dzene (Afreximbank) and Vitalis Ekene Uzor (Afreximbank)

Africa was the last region to witness significant spread of the COVID-19. Nonetheless it was expected that the continent would be hardest hit due to the fragility of its health and social infrastructure as well as the vulnerability of its economies. While the rates of infection and death were initially relatively low and contained economically the continent was hard hit early on. Cuts in credit and trade services by international banks along with a decline in export earnings tourism receipts and inward remittances have severely constrained the ability of African countries to finance imports of essential goods and to service maturing debt obligations. However, Africa has over time created mechanisms and institutions to help cushion its economies from the adverse consequences of global shocks. Among these institutions is Afreximbank which emerged out of the debt crisis of the 1980s. This paper presents an overview of the Bank’s support to African countries in dealing with two major derivatives of the COVID-19 pandemic: the trade finance challenges resulting from cuts in international financial flows to the continent and the health consequences of the pandemic.

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Mathias Bärtl, Simone Krummaker

This study evaluates four machine learning (ML) techniques (Decision Trees (DT), Random Forests (RF), Neural Networks (NN) and Probabilistic Neural Networks (PNN)) on their ability to accurately predict export credit insurance claims. Additionally, we compare the performance of the ML techniques against a simple benchmark (BM) heuristic. The analysis is based on the utilisation of a dataset provided by the Berne Union, which is the most comprehensive collection of export credit insurance data and has been used in only two scientific studies so far. All ML techniques performed relatively well in predicting whether or not claims would be incurred, and, with limitations, in predicting the order of magnitude of the claims. No satisfactory results were achieved predicting actual claim ratios. RF performed significantly better than DT, NN and PNN against all prediction tasks, and most reliably carried their validation performance forward to test performance.

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Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University

More than three months after the coronavirus outbreak in China, the COVID-19 epidemic has been spreading rapidly across the globe. In addition to the worrying effects on people’s healthiness, negative demand shocks hit businesses of most sizes and sectors. However, public responses in Europe raise hope for the economy: Many EU governments understand that particularly small and medium-sized exporters face direct damage as a result of the coronavirus outbreaks. Which public instruments are available and can step in immediately? Exim-Banks and ECAs are counter-cyclical instruments, giving evidence for their important role in global trade, for example, during the Global Financial Crisis. Who delivers? While a small number of Exim-Banks and ECAs is still surprisingly reluctant, our research shows that most institutions provide strong responses in different domains: The current focus is clearly on facilities for pre-shipment finance particularly for SMEs with substantial financing packages. A further key amendment is driven by the expectation that private credit insurers will significantly restrict cover for exporters. In addition, the focus of institutions in several countries is much more on eligibility. Is this enough? Concerted action is not only required on European level. While some countries have created task forces with key public institutions including Exim-Banks and ECAs, others lack a concise national strategy. This is a missed opportunity, as the coherent interplay of policy instruments in a `strategic eco(n)system` is crucial even in a situation without such a significant crisis. This indicates the need for even more responsive action.

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Martin Roth, Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University

Angesichts des großen Bedarfs an Infrastrukturinvestitionen weltweit unterstützen viele ausländische Regierungen ihre Exporteure mit Maßnahmen wie politischer Flankierung, Netzwerkbildung und diversen Finanzierungsinstrumenten. Ergänzend zu den Anstrengungen der Industrie erleichtert die Schweiz den Zugang ihrer Wirtschaft zu ausländischen Infrastrukturgrossprojekten ebenfalls. Im Fokus steht eine enge Koordination zwischen der Industrie sowie den relevanten Stellen und Instrumenten des Bundes. Erste neuartige Förderansätze sind bisher insbesondere im Bereich der Exportrisikoversicherung (Serv) entwickelt und getestet worden.

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Andrea Müller, Offenburg University, Anne Najderek, Offenburg University, Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University, et al.

Führungskräfte deutscher Unternehmen sehen sich gegenwärtig zwei branchenübergreifenden Anforderungen gegenüber: Innovationen und Digitalisierung. Handelt es sich bei Innovationen um ein wissenschaftlich gut durchdrungenes Thema, zeichnen sich die neuen Möglichkeiten der Digitalisierung erst in Umrissen ab. Einig ist man sich darin, dass die Digitalisierung nicht nur einen bestimmten Unternehmensteil betrifft, sondern das ganze Unternehmen übergreift. So eröffnet sie nicht nur neue Möglichkeiten für einzelne Teilfunktionen, sondern auch Verbesserungen bei funktionsübergreifenden Aufgaben. Wie diese genutzt werden können, zeigen die Autoren und Autorinnen dieses Sammelbandes. Sie präsentieren neue Denkansätze und konkrete Entscheidungshilfen für Unternehmen, die in einer digitalen Wirtschaft innovativ bleiben wollen.

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Andreas Klasen (ed.), Offenburg University, with Lucian Cernat, European Commission, Gabriel Felbermayr, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Judith Goldstein, Stanford University, Martina Höppner, Federal Ministry of Finance, Marion Jansen, International Trade Centre, Simone Krummaker, City, University of London, Nikos Passas, Northeastern University, Yasuyuki Sawada, Asian Development Bank, Thomas Straubhaar, University of Hamburg, Roseline Wanjiru, Northumbria University, et al.

A comprehensive resource for the study of international trade policy, governance, and financing. This timely and authoritative work presents contributions from a team of prominent experts that assess the policy implications of recent academic research on the subject. Discussions of contemporary research in fields such as economics, international business, international relations, law, and global politics help readers develop an expansive, interdisciplinary knowledge of 21st century foreign trade. Accessible for students, yet relevant for practitioners and researchers, this book expertly guides readers through essential literature in the field while highlighting new connections between social science research and global policy-making. Authoritative chapters address new realities of the global trade environment, global governance and international institutions, multilateral trade agreements, regional trade in developing countries, value chains in the Pacific Rim, and more. Designed to provide a well-rounded survey of the subject, this book covers financing trade such as export credit arrangements in developing economies, export insurance markets, climate finance, and recent initiatives of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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Mathias Bärtl, Offenburg University and Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University

Excellent organisations require targeted strategies to implement their vision and mission, deploying a stakeholder-focused approach. As part of evidence-based policy making, it is a common approach to measure government financing vehicles’ results. A state-of-the-art method in quantitative benchmarking to overcome the challenge of considering multiple inputs and outputs is Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA). Descriptive statistics and explorative-qualitative approaches are also applied in a modern ECA benchmarking model to substantiate DEA results and put them into perspective. This enabler-result model provides a holistic view and allows to identify top performing ECAs and Exim-Banks, providing the opportunity for inefficient institutions to learn from their most productive peers. This best practice approach for strategic benchmarking enables the senior management to develop and implement a cutting-edge strategy, and increase value for key stakeholders.

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Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University, with Ratnakar Adhikari, WTO EIF, Harald Hirschhofer, TCX, Benedict Oramah, Afreximbank, Daniel Riordan, AXA XL, Edna Schöne, Euler Hermes, Mariane Søndergaard-Jensen, EKF, et al.

Open markets, international trade and foreign direct investments are a source of prosperity in challenging times. This Special Section looks at developed economies and emerging markets, also taking into account the role of trade for impactful capacity-building in least developed countries (LDCs). Specific emphasis is placed on financing economic development and trade, analysing what roles trade and development finance should play in the quest for an efficient mobilisation of private capital for growth, trade and development.

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Thomas Hale, Oxford University, and David Held, Durham University, et al. including Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University

It is now conventional wisdom to see the great policy challenges of the 21st century as inherently transnational. It is equally common to note the failures of the international institutions the world relies on to address such challenges. The world increasingly needs effective international cooperation, but multilateralism appears unable to deliver it in the face of deepening interdependence, rising multipolarity, and the growing complexity and fragmentation that characterise the global order. Comparing anomalies and exceptions to multilateral dysfunction across a number of spheres of world politics, Beyond Gridlock explores seven pathways through and beyond gridlock. While multilateralism continues to fall short, Beyond Gridlock identifies systematic means to avoid or resist these forces and turn them into collective solutions. The chapter “Trade: Gridlock and Resilience” offers a vital new perspective as well as a practical guide for positive change in trade policy.

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Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University, with Merli Margaret Baroudi, World Bank Group, Philippe Eudelle, Offenburg University, Anisse Terai, Islamic Development Bank Group, et al.

This Special Section on policy instruments for innovation, investment and global trade presents several approaches how to foster economic growth. It deals with well-known instruments such as guarantees and loans for trade finance as well as export credits. It also sheds light on how foreign direct investment strategies can be tremendously successful, and how governments can learn from effective policy approaches. It shows how financial instruments for investors can be used to manage and minimise risks. And, last but not least, it has a look at the government toolbox for innovation as well as the ingredients for an ecosystem combining different policy instruments.

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Philipp Eudelle, Offenburg University, and Ashin Shrestha, Siemens Financial Services

Economic growth is associated with improvements in productivity, and increasing productivity is driven by growth in economic efficiency, structural changes and substitutional activities. To raise these factors, innovation and trade are substantial drivers. However, there are many economies with a high potential for economic growth but a lack of domestic investment. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is able to fill the gap between investment needed to promote economic growth, and locally available investments. This article highlights the potential of FDI for small economies using Singapore and Oman as examples. Results show, for example, that Oman ranks well in terms of being a potentially attractive FDI destination and can learn a lot from the case of Singapore. Initial steps were launched with the draft of a proposed new Foreign Capital Investment Law in 2016. However, the law will only be effective after receiving clearance from several government bodies as well as the lower and upper house of the country.

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Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University, and Bernhard Eicher, bolz+partner

Regierungen weltweit haben in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten zahlreiche Programme und innovative Finanzierungsinstrumente zur Innovationsförderung entwickelt. Beispiele sind Zuschussprogramme für Forschung und Entwicklung, Beteiligungs- oder Wagniskapital für innovative kleine und mittlere Unternehmen, Förderkreditprogramme und Bürgschaftsinstrumente. Innovative Finanzierungen im Bereich der klassischen staatlichen Investition in Innovationsinfrastruktur gibt es dagegen kaum. Hier ergeben sich für Volkswirtschaften Chancen im Zusammenhang mit den Themen Eigenwirtschaftlichkeit, Rolle der öffentlichen Hand sowie dem Einbezug privater Partner. Dies gilt auch für die Schweiz, in wo der Bund zusammen mit der Stiftung Switzerland Innovation sowie zahlreichen Kantonen einen aus verschiedenen Standorten bestehenden Innovationspark fördert. Drei mögliche Realisierungsmodelle zur Finanzierung erläutern beispielhaft, wie öffentliche und private Infrastrukturinvestitionen ausgestaltet werden können. Dabei zeigt sich, dass neben mezzaninen Finanzierungsinstrumenten wie bedingt rückzahlbaren Darlehen auch die Wirkungsweise von Social Impact Bonds für Innovationsinfrastruktur genutzt werden kann. Hierbei ergeben sich in Bezug auf Erfolgsfaktoren und Risiken auch aus öffentlicher Sicht zahlreiche Vorteile.

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Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University

To successfully support private sector development in Africa by the use of trade and export promotion instruments, a comprehensive policy framework is crucial. Different institutional setups for development support show different levels of resilience and effectiveness in coping with the economic conditions they are exposed to. However, there is strong evidence that managing the interplay of three fundamental building blocks – public policy, focus areas, strategic objectives and critical success factors as well as institutions, is the key to crafting sustainable and responsive economies. Export plays a significant role in the national economy, and innovative and integrated government financing instruments have to successfully support the competitiveness of national companies in the global economy. Financing and supporting foreign trade with private businesses in Africa occupies a pivotal role, impacting from new product development and job creation in developed countries through economic growth and human development in African countries.

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Thomas Baumgärtler, Hochschule Offenburg, Tobias Popovic, Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart, und Steffen Lutz, BWGV-Bereich Prüfung Genossenschaftsbanken

In der genossenschaftlichen FinanzGruppe werden neben Verbundunternehmen wie zum Beispiel der DZ Bank rund 45 bis 50 Genossenschaftsbanken von der künftigen Berichtspflicht nach der sogenannten CSR-Richtlinie betroffen sein. Dieser Artikel gibt Hinweise zu Auswirkungen der neuen Gesetzeslage, aber auch zu Chancen und Potenzialen. Diskutiert wird insbesondere, was das neue Gesetz bzw. der Regierungsentwurf von 2016 besagt, und was die Vorgaben konkret für Genossenschaftsbanken bedeuten. Der Beitrag diskutiert zudem Synergien, Chancen und Potenziale: Das Thema Nachhaltigkeit kann wertvolle Impulse für eine zielgerichtete Weiterentwicklung des eigenen Geschäftsmodells bieten, beispielsweise wie neue Kundengruppen und/oder neue Ertragspotenziale mit Hilfe von neuen Produkten beziehungsweise Geschäftsfeldern erschlossen werden können.

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Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University, and Simone Krummaker, University of Westminster

The Global CEO Survey was launched in 2015 by researchers from Offenburg University, the University of Westminster and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to better understand and discover what factors influence exporters’ demand for credit insurance. Although some scholars discussed aspects of corporate insurance demand with regard to exporters, there is limited research concerning the demand for export credit insurance associated with firm-specific factors. Only few empirical studies support existing theories on corporate insurance demand and export credits. This project investigates and fills the relevant gap of official export credit insurance demand.

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Philipp Jung, Hochschule Offenburg, Anne Najderek, Hochschule Offenburg, und Stephan Trahasch, Hochschule Offenburg

Der Beitrag gibt Einblicke in die Ergebnisse einer Umfrage zum Einsatz von „Business Intelligence (BI)“-Systemen an Hochschulen in Deutschland. Insgesamt 84 Teilnehmer aus vornehmlich Universitäten und Hochschulen für angewandte Wissenschaften wurden mittels einer breitgefassten Umfrage zum Vorhandensein entsprechender Systeme und ihrem Einsatz an ihrer Hochschule befragt. Es zeigt sich, dass der überwiegende Teil der befragten Einrichtungen bereits über entsprechende Systeme verfügt. Während deren Nutzung zur Befriedigung der Eigeninformationsbedürfnisse ausgeprägt ist, wird ihre Steuerungsrelevanz jedoch nur als mäßig angesehen. Dies ist unter anderem daran festzumachen, dass die Frequenz der Nutzung von Berichtssystemen, die durch die Nutzer nicht als führendes BI-System angesehen werden, im Vergleich kaum niedriger ist. Gerade hinsichtlich des Einsatzes als Steuerungsinstrument müssen BI-Systeme verstärkt in die Hochschulprozesse integriert werden.

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Andreas Klasen, Offenburg University, and Fiona Bannert, Asian Development Bank

Creating growth through trade is an important part of the policy approach of many economies. For decades, many member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have cooperated in a fair competition for the benefit of their national exporters. The countries’ official export credit agencies (ECAs) have established and jointly improved rules and regulations for export credit and political risk insurance. However, new players such as China, Russia or other fast developing countries have now joined the list of top exporting nations. As these countries have established their own ECAs, there is a need to introduce rules and regulations on global standards for financial terms as well as truly international norms ensuring ‘ethical’ trading behaviour.

But how will government support for foreign trade look like in the future? Will global standards for export credit and political risk insurance become reality by 2020? And how will strict rules and regulations for officially supported export credits and FDI regarding ethics, human rights and the environment impact growth through trade in general, or exporters in particular? These are questions addressed by the thirty eight contributions to Global Policy’s third eBook entitled ‘The Future of Foreign Trade Support – Setting Global Standards for Export Credit and Political Risk Insurance’, guest edited by Andreas Klasen and Fiona Bannert.

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