UK Export Finance expands support for SME exporters

By on 23/11/2023 | Updated on 24/11/2023
A screenshot of the UK Export Finance website. Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

UK Export Finance (UKEF) has announced additional support for UK firms looking to sell into international markets through the expansion of flexible, fast-track financing for small businesses.

The government department is the UK’s export credit agency and works to ensure that no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance.

Measures set out at its annual UK Trade and Export Finance Forum 2023 event today to over 1,000 registered guests include an expansion of its ‘auto-inclusion’ scheme, which provides fast-track access to trade finance products such as its General Export Facility (GEF).

Under the changes, the maximum support that UKEF can offer under auto-inclusion has doubled from £5m to £10m, meaning that UK exporters can access more support with a simple request through a participating bank.

Small businesses have already accessed more than £280m in financing through the fast-track scheme since it was unveiled in 2021, and this expansion means small businesses can now access more government-backed credit more quickly without manual intervention from UKEF.

The maximum tenor for loans under the GEF has also increased from two to five years, giving businesses more flexible repayment terms where most needed.

‘Unlocking even more deals for UK firms’

Tim Reid, Chief Executive at UK Export Finance, said the expansion of the facility built upon another successful year of supporting UK businesses.

In 2022-23, UKEF provided £6.5bn of financing to help UK companies seize on international trade opportunities and export around the world. This support has helped to create up to 55,000 jobs in communities across the UK and contributed up to £4.1bn to the domestic economy. Eighty-four per cent of firms directly supported with a UKEF product were small and medium-sized businesses, while 82 per cent are located outside of London.

“In speaking with our customers – and especially with small businesses – it’s clear that ease of accessing finance and flexibility in repayment terms make a big difference for firms wanting to export,” Reid said.

“We’re confident that our announcements will unlock even more deals for UK firms looking to sell to the world, whether they’re exporting for the first time or looking for the latest in a long line of export successes.”

UKEF has also announced its first ever ‘Invest-to-Export’ loan guarantee, which has secured a major overseas investment in North-East of England. In this project, UKEF-backed financing will help South Korean manufacturer SeAH Steel Holding build the world’s largest wind monopile manufacturing facility on Teesside.

The development will support more than 1,500 jobs in the wider supply chain as the factory establishes major opportunities for suppliers small and large. The first use of this ‘invest-to-export’ Export Development Guarantee demonstrates another way UKEF can support businesses investing in new UK export opportunities.

Today’s event will include speeches from Tim Reid and Lord Malcolm Offord, Minister for Exports, as well as senior leaders from major financial institutions and partner organisations. There will also be an array of topical break-out sessions featuring recent export successes.

The gathering follows the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement yesterday, which highlighted that the government will offer additional support to help SMEs access global markets through UKEF.

Firms interested in finding out more about UKEF services, and to contact their dedicated regional export finance manager, can do so via the department’s new business-friendly website.

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