ECAs are stepping up their SME support initiatives.

(TXF News, London 23 November 2017) Application processes and ease of access to export cover is improving. But as commercial banks retreat from the SME loans market, more ECA direct lending to SME exporters is a must. Many export credit agencies (ECAs) have been, or are in the process of, stepping up their support for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Finnvera, Credendo, Atradius, Sace, EFIC and Euler Hermes already have streamlined services specifically targeted at SME customers. UKEF has entered into partnerships with five commercial banks – Santander, Barclays, Lloyds, Natwest/RBS, and HSBC – to allow customers to access export finance from commercial bank branches. And Bpifrance hopes to create a one-stop-shop for exporters to increase accessibility. But for all the initiatives, meeting the very different needs of the majority of SMEs remains elusive. For example, UKEF has introduced capacity to provide funding in 40 local currencies. In short – the needs spectrum of SMEs is so broad that ECAs are in the difficult position of trying to 'please all of the people all of the time'.