Critical minerals, £1tn target and green projects part of UKEF's priorities for coming year

Mon 5 Jun 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Piggy bank with UK flag surrounded by money

The government has said that it expects its export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), to play its part in helping exports hit £1tn by 2030, while also making trade greener and protecting the country’s supply chain security.

Lord Offord of Garvel, minister for exports at the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), set out the government's four strategic priories for UKEF in a letter to CEO Tim Reid.

Reid was appointed the finance agency’s new head earlier this year having previously spent over three decades in commercial banking and having worked on government finance policy ahead of COP27 last year.

£1tn target

The government hopes that UKEF can play a central role in boosting UK exports to reach £1tn per year in value by 2030 - a longstanding goal of successive administrations and one that has been retained by current prime minister Rishi Sunak.

Lord Offord wrote: “By expanding its presence into more international markets UKEF can stimulate growth in destination countries, create more exporting routes for UK businesses, and capitalise on the opportunities our new trade agreements bring.”

Better customer experience

Lord Offord also said he wanted the agency to make a “concerted effort” to improve its data use and customer journey.

UKEF has increased its product offerings over the last few years, including enhancing its loan guarantee scheme, offering more sustainability-related products and expanding its insurance scheme to protect businesses against the risk of non-payment from overseas customers who become insolvent.

However, issues remain with aspects of UKEF support. A report from the British Exports Association in April called for UKEF’s policy wording for short-term insurance to be updated and urged “simplification and digitisation” to help streamline the application process, also noting that high premiums charged by the agency were still an issue.

Net zero

The exports minister stated that the government viewed UKEF as “an important tool to advance this government’s priorities and deliver realworld impact both at home and abroad.”

As such, promoting green trade and growth via low-carbon projects remains a focus of the government’s export policy, via the promotion of clean tech, sustainable exports and high-skilled jobs.

Last year, the UKEF was named world’s 'best export credit agency' for sustainable finance at the TXF Global Export Finance Conference.

Strategic concerns

The government also expects that UKEF will assist with supply chain security and other strategic considerations. These aims are to be unveiled in the upcoming Integrated Review Refresh later this year.

Ahead of any official announcement, Lord Offord said that “UKEF should explore how it can continue to meet the UK’s needs” in relation to supply chain security and include a focus on critical minerals.