ECAs and the once elusive SME

(TFX News, New York, 25 February 2021) What has Covid meant for ECAs and their ability to attract smaller companies? How are ECAs responding to the needs of these new clients and how are they broadening their financing partners? Once the pandemic imperative is over, will those smaller businesses be back for more? TXF talks to four ECAs [Sweden, Denmark, UK & USA] about their experience with SMEs – and finds out things may have changed for good. It’s long been on the wish list of export credit agencies to engage a broader range of corporates to provide export support. For whatever reason ... diversifying that ECA client base to help smaller companies’ exports has been a ‘nice to do’, and a bit of a struggle, rather than an imperative – until last year when the SME no longer seemed elusive. Towards the end of the summer, government attentions turned towards developing an SME product range for post-pandemic support for recovery. In July, UKEF launched its Export Development Guarantee programme which focused on larger corporates (for instance, Ford took up a £500 million facility focused on capital investment to support export growth). More recently, in December, however, UKEF announced its General Export Facility (GEF) for SMEs and corporates. [Is this a move to reduce the critique of ECAs as subsidizers of transnational corporations - the banks of Boeing? Or a desperate measure to stave off the Covid collapse of small business jobs?]