15 July 2016 09:00
Export agency supports record number of SMEs
The UK's export credit agency, UK Export Finance, has supported more exporters than ever in the past year according to new Government figures.
UK Export Finance (UKEF) provided financial support and insurance for the largest number of exporters in 25 years, with a 23% increase since last year.
The majority of these exporters (77%) were small or medium-sized enterprises and an estimated 7,000 companies in exporter supply chains also indirectly benefited.
Altogether, UKEF supported more than £800 million in sales overseas through its SME-targeted trade finance products and it issued £1.8 billion in export support. The announcement comes a year into the Government's Exporting is GREAT campaign.
Lord Price, Minister for Trade and Investment, said:
"Exporting can help businesses grow - and grow fast. That means more jobs, more profits, more tax revenue and more benefit to society. By providing its innovative support to more exporters than ever before, UKEF is helping to make exports happen, playing a vital role in the whole-of-Government push for 100,000 new exporters by 2020."
Louis Taylor, UKEF's Chief Executive Officer, said:
"This year's results show that we are making significant progress in reaching a wider customer base. We will continue to be innovative and flexible, anticipating the needs of exporters and finding ways to meet them."
The UKEF is now developing a new digital interface to support customer applications that will become available in 2016-17.
Despite this news, the latest trade figures show that exports decreased by £2 billion and imports decreased by £1.7 billion between April and May this year.
Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), described the figures as "disappointing". He added:
"While the significant decline in the value of sterling in the wake of the EU referendum will benefit some exporters in the coming months, a weak pound is something of a double-edged sword, as many UK exporters are also importers as a result of global supply chains and so will be facing higher input costs due to the weakening currency."