UKEF has 'billions of pounds… to unleash UK's huge untapped export potential', exports minister says

Tue 7 Dec 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

UKEF

The minister for exports told a trade conference in London this morning of his ambition to use UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) £50 billion of finance capacity to encourage UK businesses to start exporting.

At the fourth annual UK Trade & Export Finance Forum hosted by UKEF, Mike Freer MP said there were “huge areas of untapped export potential across the UK. One in seven firms with a turnover over £500,000 are not exporting and could be”.

Freer said the UK’s export credit agency was “here to help change that”.

‘Race to a Trillion’

At the same time, he urged British businesses to harness the opportunities created by the trade deals the UK has signed with 70 countries and the EU trade bloc.

In November, the government unveiled a new ‘Made in the UK, Sold to the World’ strategy to help achieve its ambitious ‘Race to a Trillion’ export target of £1 trillion-worth of UK goods sold overseas.

Freer said UKEF, as the government’s export credit agency, was pivotal to achieving this target.

‘UKEF open for business’

"Over the last 18 months, UKEF has been agile and responsive to the needs of the market,” Freer continued. “The department underwent radical changes and emerged stronger. But it has billions of pounds remaining. I am here to say it can do even more. It is open for business.”

In his well-attended keynote speech, Freer also announced that:

  • UK non-bank lender Newable has been accredited to UKEF’s General Export Facility to boost options for small businesses
  • UKEF has signed a new partnership with General Electric (GE) to support industries of the future, boosting renewable job growth across the UK. The deal commits UKEF to supporting more renewable energy projects with GE

Green focus

UKEF has a focus on UK exports of clean growth services, Freer said.

“From carbon capture to green hydrogen, and offshore wind to green bonds, the UK is immensely strong. And we must export our expertise to the world," Freer said. "This is why agreements like the one signed today between UKEF and GE are so important. It will harness UK expertise to help build a better world.”

‘Chief salesperson for UK plc’

Freer also recounted how, as a former salesman, he was told by prime minister Boris Johnson "to be the chief salesperson for UK plc” when he appointed Freer as exports minister in September.

Freer adapted this message for the UKEF forum: “My message to you is that I want you to go out there and sell, sell, sell [exports]……our job [at UKEF] is to ensure you have the finance to make [this happen].”