Allied Irish Bank (AIB) is launching a €200mn SME Export Finance Fund to provide multiple export finance products for Irish exporters, as well as a team of 85 export finance specialists across Ireland.

The fund will offer a range of export financing products, including working capital loans. The team of specialists will provide clients with practical export advice and information, and access to the treasury and trade finance product specialist teams.

The bank is also partnering with DHL to support Irish exporters logistically in overseas markets. The partnership includes a 50% discount on DHL Express standard international shipping tariffs for one year for all AIB’s exporting clients.

Commenting on the range of new initiatives, AIB’s head of business banking Ken Burke says: “AIB is firmly focussed on being the bank of choice for exporters and is launching these initiatives in support.”

“It is important that AIB supports SMEs as they continue to build in existing markets and identify additional export opportunities,” adds Burke.

In association with the Irish Exporters Union (IEA), the AIB has also published The Exports Outlook Report. Respondents of a survey conducted among 200 Irish SME exporters show that exports accounted for almost 40% of SME turnover last year. 65% of respondents expect improved export sales in 2014 while 30% plan to export to new markets. The US is the top destination for Irish SME exports, with 27% of respondents citing the country as their main export market. Germany (16%) and France (13%) are the second and third largest export markets. Overall, 46% of SMEs expect their exports to increase this year.

“Exporting is the lifeblood of the Irish economy driving growth, innovation and employment,” says CEO of the IEA Simon McKeever. “The report shows that a strong majority of exporters expect further growth in exports this year and that they are continuing to target new markets and develop new products and services as a result.”