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What Is An Export Credit Agency (ECA) & Why Do We Have One?
June 06, 2017 Elizabeth Thomas, Business Development Specialist, Office of Small Business

Approximately 85 countries around the world have an Export Credit Agency (ECA), but if you’re not involved in international trade or trade finance, you may wonder, “What is an Export Credit Agency and why do we have one?”

Who

Export credit agencies can be private companies, government agencies or a blend of the two that “act as an intermediary between national governments and exporters to issue export financing.” (Wikipedia)

What

From Investopedia.com: “An export credit agency (ECA) is a financial institution that offers financing to domestic companies for international export operations and other activities. ECAs offer loans and insurance to such companies to help remove the risk of uncertainty of exporting to other countries and underwrite political and commercials risks of overseas investments, thus encouraging exportation and international trade.”

When

In his paper “The Role and Importance of Export Credit Agencies, “ Raquel Mazal Krauss of the Institute of Brazilian Business and Public Management Issues, The Minerva Program Fall 2011, states that “the first export credit agency, a privately owned Swiss company, was founded in 1906, followed in 1919 by the first government export credit agency established in the United Kingdom to help improve economic conditions caused by the disruption of international trade during WWI.” Since then, countries around the world have organized export credit agencies to promote international trade.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), the official export credit agency of the United States, is an independent federal government agency that was established by executive order in 1934 with the mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services.

Where

EXIM is headquartered in Washington, DC and has 12 regional offices throughout the country to provide local support for U.S.-based exporters.

Why

In the preface to his book, Inside the World’s Export Credit Agencies, William A. Delphos provides this insight,

“Finance is the lubricant of commerce. Without financing, in all of its varieties (i.e., short-term trade credit, letters of credit, medium- and long-term capital equipment loans, and project finance), most international opportunities would be difficult to capitalize upon.”

“ECAs are typically government agencies that provide risk mitigation tools to financial institutions extending credit on behalf of their country’s exporters" … “By using ECAs, exporters can sell on more liberal terms than cash in advance policies, and  still have a high degree of certainty that they will get paid.”

The role that EXIM plays as the official ECA of the United States is laid out in the Bank’s 2016 Annual Report:

“EXIM supports the export of American goods and services in two principal ways. First, when exporters in the United States or their customers are unable to access export financing from private sources, the Bank equips them with the necessary tools – buyer financing, export credit insurance and access to working capital. Second, when U.S. exporters face foreign competition backed by other governments, EXIM levels the playing field by providing buyer financing to match or counter the financing offered by approximately 85 ECAs around the world. EXIM Bank assumes credit and country risks that the private-sector is unable or unwilling to accept.”

In the past eight years, EXIM has supported thousands and thousands of small and minority- and woman-owned businesses, and more than 1.4 million jobs across the U.S. That’s what an ECA does, and that’s why we have one. If you woud like to learn more about how EXIM Bank can help support and grow your exports, click for a consultation today!

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