The General Export Facility, explained

Launched in December last year, the General Export Facility is designed to help businesses export their goods and services overseas.

But what is the scheme? And how could it help your business?

Overview

The General Export Facility (GEF) is a guarantee scheme run by the Government’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF).

The facility supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing partial (80 per cent) guarantees to incentivise banks to finance international trade operations.

The scheme can guarantee cash facilities, such as trade loans, or contingent obligation facilities, such as bonding and letter of credit lines, with maximum repayment terms of up to five years.

UKEF says the scheme has helped “thousands of businesses” to fulfil multiple export contracts, pay for labour costs, build their inventory, and ease cash flow constraints.

How much can I get?

The General Export Facility will support facilities valued up to £25 million.

How can the scheme benefit my business?

The scheme helps businesses negotiate better terms and rates of interest on finance facilities than they could achieve otherwise. This will allow your company to use working capital to grow and expand international trade operations, rather than to pay debts.

And unlike other guarantee schemes, GEF traders do not need to evidence any individual export contracts, meaning they can “focus on their overall growth without worrying as to whether an export opportunity will be deemed supportable or not”.

Which banks participate in the scheme?

There are currently five participating banks: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, The Royal Bank of Scotland, and Santander.

Is my business eligible?

A successful applicant will satisfy the following criteria:

  • in any one of the last three financial years, at least 20 per cent of their annual turnover has been made up of UK export sales; OR
  • in each of the last three financial years, at least five per cent of their annual turnover has been made up of UK export sales.

And declare that:

  • they have premises in the UK
  • they have employees in the UK
  • they pay UK or Isle of Man/Channel Islands National Insurance Contributions or Corporation Tax; and
  • they manufacture goods, deliver services or produce intangibles from the UK, which would (if required) qualify for a UK Chambers of Commerce Certificate of Origin.
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