Government-backed export finance and insurance can help Scottish companies to sell overseas Jon Boyce, Senior Specialist Export Finance Adviser, Northern Regions at UK Export Finance explains why, when the world needs your expertise, you may need ours.
There is a world of opportunity out there for Scottish business. Search online for Exporting is GREAT and you will see the demand that is out there. Finding more customers outside the UK is the key to growth for many Scottish firms as they look to take advantage of a global market place. However, often these companies might need additional help to finance this activity, beyond what is available from their bank.
The need for specialist finance and insurance should not be a barrier. It will help you give your overseas buyers time to pay, while protecting your cash flow. It can mean higher levels of finance compared to conventional lending.
Companies that export are 11% more likely to stay in business. They can achieve levels of growth not possible domestically, spread business risk, achieve economies of scale not achievable in their home market, increase revenues and profits and extend the commercial lifespan of their products and services.
For a growing number of Scottish businesses, help is provided by UK Export Finance (UKEF), a government department and the UK’s export credit agency. We work to makes sure that no viable export should fail for want of finance or insurance, helping companies of all sizes to access finance and export-related risk insurance whether that’s directly from banks and credit insurance brokers, or with a little help from the UK Government.
UKEF offers guidance and financial solutions designed to help where exporters may need support. These might relate to access to working capital, risk of non-payment or availability of funding for overseas buyers of UK capital goodsservices.
Over the past five years, we have provided over £17bn worth of support for exports across the UK – helping more than 300 businesses directly, and many thousands more in their supply chains. In Scotland alone, we have offered short-term support to over £200 million worth of business since 2012. This doesn’t include the hundreds of millions of pounds of support through longer-term loans, for example, to support Scottish suppliers to the oil and gas industry, which benefits thousands of companies in export supply chains.
We’ve directly supported a diverse range of exporters in recent years. We have worked with companies like West Lothian-based Click Netherfield, who we helped to export its museum display cases to Taiwan, and the UK arm of multinational Forum Energy Technologies, based in Aberdeen, which now exports remotely-operated subsea vehicles to Nigeria.
UKEF helped both these companies, and we can help many more Scottish businesses to export. Over the past week, we have been travelling around Scotland to speak to exporters and potential exporters as part of the Exporting is GREAT tour. Our aim was simple: to encourage more Scottish companies to start exporting, and to make sure that they know how to access the expert advice they need to do so.
What we learned is that there is huge appetite in Scotland to export – and a huge number of products and services for which the rest of the world has demand. The number of high-growth businesses in Scotland has grown by 35% since 2009, according to figures from the Enterprise Research Centre, and for these companies the natural next step is looking to overseas buyers.
My colleagues at UKEF and I are now proactively reaching out to businesses in Scotland to see how our support can help them expand into new international markets. Over the next few months, businesses across Scotland can expect to hear from us, so that we can take them through the support available from UK and Scottish Government and the private sector.
So why not get in touch and realise the opportunities out there for you?
UKEF is also sponsoring the HSBC Scottish Export Awards in association with Scottish Enterprise this month.