Ericka Ukrow is a Senior International Trade Specialist specializing in Financial Services at the International Trade Administration.
In an increasingly interconnected global economy, trade is taking a prominent role in our country’s economic growth.
The availability of finance is essential for a vigorous trading system. Most export transactions are supported by some form of financing or credit insurance. However, significant gaps in the global provision of trade finance remain.
Globally, the trade finance gap in 2017 was estimated at $1.5 trillion, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) facing the greatest hurdles to access trade finance.
The TFAC advises the Secretary of Commerce on effective ways to increase access to financing resources for all U.S. exporters, especially SMEs. With up to 20 private-sector members representing financial and insurance services providers, manufacturing firms, trade finance industry associations, and research organizations, the TFAC’s thought-leadership coordinates perspectives from diverse stakeholders into the development of policies and programs in this area.
These insights help direct Commerce’s actions toward conducive framework conditions that would amplify U.S. exporters access to strategic educational and financing resources.
Over the last fifteen months, the TFAC has focused on:
- export finance best practices;
- enabling new private sector channels for the flow of credit to exporting SMEs;
- education strategies to reduce the information gap across government, community banks, and other enablers of SME finance;
- addressing financing process obstacles that impede SME credit;
- analyzing trade credit insurance underutilization in the United States; and
- reviewing the performance of alternative export credit agencies’ models.
At the February TFAC meeting, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recognized the Council for its critical role in advancing the Administration’s goal of reducing U.S. trade deficits by empowering more SMEs with financing solutions that would increase their export opportunities.
“While we seek to level the playing field and negotiate more favorable terms with our trading partners, we count on you to continue empowering SMEs in the international arena. Without adequate access to finance, it is difficult for U.S. exporters to sell their products and services globally.”
He also encouraged Council members to identify how emerging technologies, such as blockchain, could facilitate trade finance solutions and reduce risk for U.S. SME exporters.
The TFAC also welcomed Secretary Wilbur Ross’ new appointed members this year:
- Steven Bash, Senior Vice President, International Banking, City National Bank
- Alan Beard, Managing Director, Interlink Capital Strategies
- Russell D’Souza, Vice President, Corporate Treasurer, Hanesbrands, Inc.
- Patricia Gomes, Managing Director, Regional Head Global Trade and Receivables Finance North America, HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
- William Browning, Senior Vice President, Business Credit – Trade Finance Manager, First National Bank
These new appointees expand the Council’s expertise in their representation of both users and providers of trade finance in the manufacturing, banking, and management consulting services sectors.
The TFAC expects to discuss improving the credit conditions and diversifying financing sources for U.S. exporters at their Spring meeting.