The Export-Import Bank of the United States (US Exim) has trimmed lender fees on its working capital guarantee programme, in a move it says will benefit small businesses.

The programme offers guarantees to commercial lenders who extend asset-based trade finance credit lines to US exporters.

Instead of a previous standard fee of 1.75% of the facility, US Exim’s charges for providing a guarantee are now based on the loan amount, with prices starting at 0.45% for loans up to US$2mn and a maximum fee of 1.10% for those over US$10mn.

The export credit agency says the move makes the working capital guarantee programme “more competitive” for financial institutions, including those that have not yet received higher levels of delegated authority, which allows them to approve loans up to a certain amount without seeking prior authorisation from US Exim.

“Increased participation by lenders in the working capital guarantee program benefits their small business customers, who are the backbone of the US economy,” says US Exim president and chair Reta Jo Lewis. “It also allows the lenders to gain experience with the program, which will enable them to increase their level of delegated authority.”

The new fee structure, announced last week, came into effect on April 3.

US Exim said in 2021 that there had been renewed interest in working capital guarantees and it extended several temporary changes to make the scheme more flexible for lenders and small businesses.