Standard Chartered Bank accelerates sustainability mission through responsible financing

May 10, 2021 | 18:45
As one of the major international financial institutions in Vietnam, Standard Chartered Bank has thrown its considerable weight behind sustainability-linked initiatives to promote a low carbon future and shape a more resilient, sustainable economy.

“We believe sustainable finance would be the defining moment of this new decade. The unprecedented pandemic has further highlighted the importance of sustainable finance for global and local economic resilience,” said Michele Wee, CEO Vietnam, Standard Chartered Bank, highlighting opportunities as the bank seeks to patch gaps between supply and demand and improve outcomes.

Driving clients’ turn towards the green agenda, Standard Chartered puts top priority on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria.

standard chartered bank accelerates sustainability mission through responsible financing

The Grade A office complex Capital Place – Standard Chartered Bank’s new head office and branch – is located in the heart of Hanoi with unparalleled location, modern amenities, and pioneering design

Just recently, the bank launched its sustainable trade finance solutions across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, which is designed to help companies implement more sustainable practices across their ecosystems and build more resilient supply chains.

Standard Chartered’s sustainable trade finance proposition builds the Loan Market Association’s green and sustainability-linked loan principles into its trade financing framework, encouraging clients to improve disclosure, reporting, and definition of use while meeting their ESG requirements. The initial focus of the proposition will be on supply chain financing, invoice financing, receivables services, bonds and guarantees, and letters of credit – with more to be added in due course. These products are expected to help corral around $19 billion value of global supply chain activities to a more sustainable path.

“To accelerate sustainable finance, we need to re-think how we can deliver financing to where it is needed most. Trade finance can help us reach across complex supply chains to drive long-term resilience and growth, “said Wee. “For a market like Vietnam, which is playing an increasingly important role in the global supply chain and is one of ASEAN’s most open economies, I am excited about the opportunities ahead.”

Drawing on its expertise as a reputable international bank with a deep knowledge about the local market, the London-based lender is continuously innovating and executing new propositions that are designed to drive sustainability.

Last month, the bank released its latest green automobile loan package to clients purchasing hybrid cars, offering the most preferential interest rates in one of the most appealing loan segments in Vietnam. Customers could jump on the green vehicles bandwagon thanks to these competitive fixed interest rates – only 5.75 per cent per annum in the first 12 months, or 6.25 per cent in the first 24 months, or 6.75 per cent in the first 36 months.

“We believe in the power that finance can have to catalyse a positive impact on our communities and the environment,” noted Harmander Mahal, head Consumer, Private and Business Banking, Vietnam and Asia Cluster Markets, Standard Chartered Bank. “There is little question that environmentally-friendly vehicles are the trend of the future, particularly in the Vietnam context. Through the launch of this preferential loan programme, we hope to encourage the use of those vehicles and making impact on the environment.”

The environmentally-friendly hybrid car loan is an example of the bank’s efforts to incentivise the adoption of greener lifestyles and reduce their carbon footprint.

The bank has also made great strides in financing a green agenda by aligning its goals with international practices on sustainability and especially by joining the globes’ climate commitments.

Last year, Standard Chartered sharpened its focus on environmentally-friendly initiatives by joining other lenders to roll out a climate-friendly syndicated loan of $148.8 million for Phu Yen Solar Power Plant.

The project – which is expected to reduce 123,000 tonnes of CO2 per year – is considered the largest single operating solar power plant in the country and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. The power plant would deliver electricity to Quang Ngai and Nha Trang cities, as well as surrounding areas in a region that is emerging as one of Vietnam’s key tourist centres.

Globally, Standard Chartered commits to providing $75 billion towards Sustainable Development Goals project financing by end of 2024 and having net-zero carbon emissions from its operations by 2030.

“Our wide range of network covers the world’s largest and fastest-growing economic zones. We are committed to actively engage with our clients to support their transition strategies as well as to foster sustainable growth across borders by a number of forthcoming sustainable financing approaches,” Wee told VIR.

As a global bank, gender equality and gender inclusion are high on Standard Chartered’s sustainability-linked agenda.

In 2020, the bank inked an agreement with the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC) under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to provide $25 million of uncommitted credit facilities with tenors of up to 365 days to women-owned businesses. Specifically, those operating in priority sectors identified by the State Bank of Vietnam are offered access to preferential interest rates from the bank, currently at 5 per cent per annum.

In addition to access to Standard Chartered Vietnam’s credit facilities, women-owned businesses will also benefit from the bank’s international expertise through complimentary training on financial education, market updates, and regular sharing sessions on topics of interest.

The programme reflects efforts at Standard Chartered to put women in roles where they are capable and fully responsible for their own business decisions, and access broad experience to advance on their career paths.

By Luu Huong

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