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GENERAL EXPORT FINANCE FACILITY

Our colleague Jack Semple, Secretary of EAMA has provided some notes on the recent announcement of a general export finance facility aimed at SME’s.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) has taken what may prove to be a hugely significant step forward in improving the availability and value of its services to SMEs, with the launch of a General Export Facility (GEF).  UKEF will be able to provide an 80% guarantee on financial support from lenders to support general export costs up to £25 million.

The scheme has been tested with the UK’s major lenders throughout 2020 - it was designed before Covid, although the pressure of the pandemic may have delayed its launch.  Support will be accessed through the ‘big five’ banks - HSBC, Lloyds Bank, NatWest, Santander and Barclays - and UKEF says that other lenders will be added to the facility in due course.

To qualify for GEF, firms must self-certify that either

  • in any one of its last three financial years, at least 20% of its annual turnover has been made up of UK export sales, or
  • that in each of its last three financial years, at least 5% of its annual turnover has come from UK export sales.

The government announcement can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/radical-shake-up-to-government-export-finance-support-for-small-businesses and more information about the GEF and how it will work is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/general-export-facility.

The Engineering and Machinery Alliance has long supported UKEF and has said that it should be on the checklist for all manufacturing/engineering exporters.  At the same time, EAMA noted that support, especially for SMEs was often flawed in practice and called for improvements in the way support was offered through banks.  The new general export facility (GEF) looks to go a long way towards overcoming the problems and delivering what exporters need.

We would welcome feedback, and also news form members as to how the new GEF is working – you can feed this in to EAMA via MTA by contacting Geoff Noon (email:  gnoon@mta.org.uk).