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Business group calls on banks to ‘help drive SME exports’

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is urging banks to help drive the SME export market, by relaxing the lending criteria for small firms considering overseas operations.

The call follows recent research from the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), which reveals that exports in the SME sector have increased by 36% since 2009, and are set to follow a similar pattern of growth for 2012.

However, the FPB is arguing that it is essential that bank lending keeps pace with the boom, or the UK could risk lagging behind the rest of the world.

Phil McCabe of the FPB said, ‘It is now down to the banks to do their bit and make sure that firms wanting to export have access to affordable credit to finance such operations’.

‘While it’s understandable banks would want to closely examine any business plan from a firm looking to trade in foreign markets, it must not be an obligatory ‘no’ once they hear the word ‘export’ mentioned.’

The business group is also urging the Government not to make further cuts in resources to the UK Trade and Investment body, UKTI.

Mr McCabe added, ‘Today’s report suggests UK business is finally ‘getting it’ when it comes to the importance of exporting, and the Government now must react accordingly and make sure the support is in place to allow firms to get it right. UKTI does a great job but in order to keep up the good work it needs the right tools for the job’.