UK Export Finance (UKEF) is launching a new partnership with five major high street banks to allow smaller businesses to access millions of pounds in government-backed trade finance.
UKEF, as part of the Department for International Trade, provides financial support to help UK companies sell to international customers.
The new partnership with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS/NatWest and Santander was initially agreed in July.
For the first time companies which supply exporters will be able to access UKEF-backed finance to help them to become part of major export contracts.
The partnership is able to offer finance for up to £2m and SMEs can access UKEF support directly from their bank quickly and efficiently, without the need to apply separately.
Where previously it could take weeks in addition to the banks’ own turnaround times to access this support, it will now take a matter of seconds where an application for finance is eligible.
UK SMEs that aren’t yet selling overseas but are supplying products directly to those who are, will also be able to qualify for UKEF support.
Secretary of state for international trade, Liam Fox said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and giving them the support they need to seize international trading opportunities is a priority for the Department for International Trade as an international economic department.
“That’s why we’re partnering with the five major high street banks to make government-backed finance from UK Export Finance readily available, in a matter of seconds, opening up new global contracts to businesses across the UK.”
Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), added: “Through our work with the secretary of state for international trade, I am delighted to see the government’s plans to improve access to export finance.
“The success of the UK economy rests on helping more small businesses to export, and export more. FSB research shows 20 per cent of UK small firms already export, and with the right support this could double.
He added: “Today’s announcement of faster and more readily available finance means more small businesses will be able to access growth markets around the world.
“Small firms’ contribution to the UK’s export market is of course not limited to those that sell products overseas.
“Our research highlights that one in six of all UK small businesses also form part of a supply chain of which the end product is exported, so opening up export finance to this group of firms is great news.”
Source: Insider Media, October 2017