Interagency Initiative Launched To Increase Small-Business Exports

At the kickoff of the 2013 Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank’s Annual Conference, the Bank announced that it will participate in an interagency initiative called U.S. Global Business Solutions. The program—announced on Wednesday, April 3—hopes to promote, advance, and develop small business exporting by expanding the base of financial institutions and service providers that facilitate exports, adding an anticipated 250 trade-finance sources by December 2015.

The Ex-Im Bank has partnered with five other government agencies to launch the initiative. They include the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the International Trade Administration (a Bureau within the U.S. Dept. of Commerce), the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Currently, in development, U.S. Global Business Solutions intends to ‘bundle’ U.S. government trade-finance products for lenders and exporters. Each of the six agencies separately provides market assistance and trade-finance tools. The interagency program aims to make these federal services more accessible and more visible for a greater number of small businesses around the country.  In order to accomplish this, the programs and products will be combined into a single menu of options that will be tailored to the stage of the exporter’s development and the capacity of the financial institution or service provider. The primary goal is to add 50,000 small businesses to the exporter base by 2017.

Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred Hochberg relayed his support for the initiative, stating that it will “provide [small businesses] with the market assistance and financing tools they need to begin or expand exporting, increase their revenues and create good, middle-class jobs here at home.”

The Ex-Im Bank approved a record $35.8 billion in total authorizations in FY 2012. This total includes more than $6.1 billion directly supporting small-business export sales. The Ex-Im Bank already provides services for exporters such as exporter insurance and working capital guarantees, but the U.S. Global Business Solutions Initiative hopes to expand the availability of such trade services for small businesses nationwide.

Three years ago, President Obama launched the National Exporters Initiative (NEI), which sought to protect the interests of exporters, promote free trade, and introduce new trade markets. In 2012, U.S. exports reached a record value of $2.2 trillion while supporting over 9.8 million jobs.

Increasing small-business exports is a major focus of Ex-Im Bank’s 2013 Annual Conference, which drew 1,200 participants, including exporters, lenders and international buyers. Among the distinguished government and private-sector business leaders scheduled to speak, Vice President Joe Biden is also addressing the attendees.