Report: Global Trade Credit Payments Study

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Find out Which Industries in Which Countries Paid Late in 2018 and Why

Dun & Bradstreet’s Worldwide Network Partner CRIBIS published a comprehensive payment study on 35 countries. You can read the full report here, but I’d like to go into a little more detail of the findings for US and Canada.

Trade Credit Payments Trends in the US

The annual study revealed continued healing among US businesses in 2018 as payment times remain near the best levels since the end of the global financial crisis that began in 2007. In 2018, the majority of US companies (57.1%) paid their invoices on time, rising 0.7% from 2017 and improving 13.6% from 2007. Additionally, the share of businesses paying late (30+ days past due) has declined by 1.8%.

US Payment Terms 2007 - 2018

Prompt trade credit payments are an important function of a healthy economy, allowing for greater trust and confidence between counterparties, while promoting predictable cash flow that can in turn allow for greater business investment. Improved payment times in 2018 also signify that companies have adapted well from tighter monetary conditions in which the Federal Funds rate was raised by 100 basis points in 2018. Even though credit became generally more expensive - the prime lending rate rose from 4.5% in January 2018 to 5.25% by year’s end - the current payment cycle remained intact and undisrupted.

2018 Payment Practices by Industry in the US

Companies in the financial services, agribusiness, and business services industries reported the best payment times (more than 60% pay on time), while companies that are typically more integrated with the global supply chain - such as automotive repair services, furniture, apparel, and manufacturing - reported the slowest payment times. This is likely a direct effect of the US’s ongoing trade battle with other nations.

Trade Credit Payment Trends in Canada

Meanwhile, payment times among Canadian businesses turned worse in 2018. At the end of 2018, only 31.9% of businesses paid on time, a decline from 42% in 2017. Most of the migration of the payment distribution was from paying on time paying up to 30 days late. The share of later payments (30+ days past due) declined 1.9% in 2018 and is 10.1% lower than the 2007 pre-global financial crisis level.

Canada Payment Terms 2007 - 2018

Some of the payment deterioration in Canada in 2018 can be explained by macro-driven events. For instance, payment performance at the sectoral level revealed difficulty among oil and gas extraction companies. In late 2018, Canada’s oil and gas extraction industry underwent a severe disruption when the price for Western Canada Select (WCS) traded at a historical deficit to Western Texas Intermediate (WTI) due in part to poor transportation capacity that eventually led to an OPEC-style production cut across Alberta. While a movement of companies from on-time payment to 30 days’ late may signal a turn in the payment cycle, it can also be explained from rare economic shocks, such as the prior example, that will likely fade over time. The price of WCS eventually recovered in 2019 and the spread now remains within a normal range against WTI, so it’s expected the worst-paying industries will improve this year.

Future Outlook for 2019

However, as we turn to 2019, there has been a shift in growth expectations in North America and risk to the payment cycle are rising. Economic data continues to point toward slower economic growth in both the US and Canada in 2019 and will likely weigh companies’ ability to pay promptly. As of Q2 2019, business confidence in Canada remained near multi-year lows, while composite business survey information among US businesses continues to trend lower from 2018 highs - indicting that businesses on the continent have recorded higher levels of distress since 2018.

Methodology

The Global Payment Study was compiled by CRIBIS, the Dun & Bradstreet Worldwide Network Partner in Italy. The Dun & Bradstreet Worldwide Network (WWN) is an alliance between Dun & Bradstreet and leading business information providers in dozens of countries.

Click the link below for the comprehensive payment study on 35 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE, the UK, and the US.

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