Assisting small exporters
In several countries (e.g. Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg), most exporters are small firms and they receive the greatest share of export-related services. Efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of export credit products and services are primarily to the benefit of smaller enterprises. Other OECD countries are increasingly targeting small exporters in their programmes. In the United Kingdom, the 2000 Mission and Status Review of the ECGD recommended that the agency seek to attract more SME customers and to raise awareness of export insurance and finance among smaller exporters. The Canadian EDC has publicly committed itself to encouraging Canadian small firms to actively export and to supporting as many SMEs as possible in their export endeavours.
The Korea Export Insurance Corporation (KEIC) has a special interest in encouraging SME export activities through an article of special treatment for small firms contained in the Korean Export Insurance Act. Similarly, in the United States, support for SMEs stems from the legislative mandate of the Export-Import Bank (Eximbank). The Corporate Plan of the Australian Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) explicitly underlines support for small firms.
Some export credit agencies have special units or teams devoted to small exporters. For example, the US Eximbank has the Small and New Business Group with a staff of around 120 people in three divisions: 1) insurance, 2) working capital and 3) business development. EDC of Canada has established two teams to support small firms: 1) the Emerging Exporters Team delivers short-term insurance services through a specialised underwriting centre which can issue policies and grant buyer credit approvals immediately over the phone, fax or the Internet; and 2) the Small Business Financial Solutions Team which delivers medium- and long-term products and services, including buyer credit financing, contract bonding and pre-shipment financing.
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has set up an Advisory and Consulting Office for SMEs which offers advisory and consulting services to support small firms. The Export- Import Bank of Korea (K-EXIM) established the SME Export Credit Group in 2002 from what was previously the Small Business Export Credit Department. In Norway, the Garanti-Instituttet for Eksportkreditt (GIEK) has a team entrusted with the simplification of procedures and documentation for SME export credits. Similarly, Switzerland (Geschäftsstelle für die Exportrisikogarantie) devotes considerable resources to advisory and underwriting services for small firms, since larger companies tend to have internal export finance units to carry out these tasks.
Providing information to small exporters
Due to information gaps and asymmetries, many smaller enterprises may be unaware of the export credit products and services available. A majority of export credit agencies in OECD countries make special efforts to raise awareness among SMEs about official export credit programmes.
Information on export credit products and export support services for SMEs tends to be disseminated through public seminars, private events (e.g. trade shows), printed media and the Internet. Canada sends out 800 000 direct mailings throughout the year and its SME representatives stationed in major centres make presentations and participate in seminars, trade shows and other government information sessions across the country. Canada also runs advertisements for SME exporters in the print media and through television channels. Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) of Japan provides information on export credits to small firms in the context of international investment seminars targeted to smaller enterprises. JBIC of Japan offers advisory and consulting services and organises lectures, seminars, study meetings anf various forums to support SMEs.