Office of the United States Trade Representative


Export Finance: Small Business options from the Small Business Administration
By: Gregory Walters, Director of Small Business Affairs, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative 03/10/2004

One of the greatest challenges facing U.S. small businesses in the new global economy is finding acceptable financing options for their business.  As the Bush Administration works to open more markets for U.S. small businesses, we are also working to increase access to capital to insure small business success abroad.

The primary source of small business loans in the federal government is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  SBA has many programs designed to assist the U.S. small business exporter find the capital they need to succeed in foreign markets.

Three programs of special note are the Export Express, Export Working Capital, and International Trade Loan Programs.  Each has its own distinct offerings described briefly below.

Export Express can be used for participation in a foreign trade shows, translation of product brochures in overseas markets, general lines of credit for exporting, service contracts from buyers located outside the United States, transaction specific needs for completing export orders, and the purchase of real estate and equipment used in the production of exports.   

The Export Working Capital Program offers pre-export financing of labor and materials through financing the receivables generated from their sale (and/or) the standby letters of credit used as performance bonds or payment guarantees.

The International Trade Loan program assists small businesses in financing machinery and equipment, financing real estate, and can be used to improve their competitive position if they have been affected by import competition.

All three of these programs provide loan guarantees to the financing bank.  Each has different qualifications, time periods, and guarantee percentages.

For more information please visit or consult your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

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