ANZ has launched an A$3bn ‘trade lending pledge’ for Australian SMEs looking to trade internationally, particularly with Asia.

Australia’s International Business Survey, conducted by the Export Council of Australia and the University of Sydney in 2014, revealed that 25% of Australian businesses operating internationally require additional debt funding every year, and that 62% of them find it difficult to source this funding from Australian financial institutions. As such, the bank hopes to raise awareness of the trade finance products available to these firms.

“Most SMEs utilise conventional borrowing to fund expansion. But when this reaches a certain level, it is more beneficial to use trade finance-related products. There is an opportunity to improve Australian SMEs’ awareness of the trade finance options available to them. Trade finance can help these businesses better manage payment risk and their cashflow cycle when conducting business overseas,” an ANZ spokesperson tells GTR.

The pledge entails A$3bn in financing and will leverage ANZ’s presence in 29 Asia Pacific markets. It is available to any Australian business looking to enter new markets “subject to credit applications meeting ANZ’s normal credit approval criteria”.

The bank expects exporters and importers in the manufacturing, wholesale and retail sectors to file the most applications, as they seek to take advantage of Australia’s recently signed free trade agreements with the likes of China, Korea and Japan.

“The Australian economy relies not only on entrepreneurs, but also on proven businesses that are able to expand into new geographies or product and service areas. Australia has negotiated a number of significant free trade agreements with key trade partners and there is huge potential for the country to broaden the mix of its export base,” says ANZ’s Australia CEO Mark Whelan.