The second annual Trade and Export Finance Forum took place last week which also marked 100 years of UK Export Finance (UKEF). UKEF is the UK’s export credit agency, strategically and operationally aligned with the Department for International Trade.
UKEF CEO Louis Taylor opened the forum with an outline of the day’s mission: ‘’to connect businesses with the opportunities abroad that they can fulfil”. Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox delivered the keynote address complimenting the UKEF on going from strength to strength since its inception as the world’s first credit export agency 100 years ago.
At the forum, an extensive finance package was announced for the first time to help support UK SME exporters into emerging markets.
The package will include:
- The Small Deal Initiative to back exporters undertaking the smaller contracts underpinning British trade
- Extending financial support to firms in exporters’ supply chains as well as exporters themselves
- The General Export Facility to cover general costs for exporters, rather than just costs related to a specific export deal
SMEs will welcome the support as a more flexible approach to finance, particularly firms who find it difficult to secure export contracts due to working capital constraints or access to bonds. At a time when firms are reporting cash flow challenges in a context of uncertainty, the announcement should act as an indication that the government is willing to invest in supporting UK business.
Companies who have previously secured UKEF backing reported a better chance of repeat contracts, being chosen over competitor companies, and an increase in UK content in large scale projects.
For UK trade in both goods and services to continue to grow, the involvement of UKEF remains vital to securing investment and enhancing UK businesses presence, which in turn helps to grow UK supply chains and many more spill-over effects.
In the current climate and their centenary year, the UKEF’s mission to ensure that no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance from the private sector is more important than ever.