Euler Hermes, OeKB and Serv – the export credit agencies (ECAs) of Germany, Austria and Switzerland respectively – have agreed to join forces to improve opportunities for their exporters in the face of increased competition from Asia.

“Foreign trade and export financing are changing. In particular, Asian state banks increasingly offer financing at non-standard conditions thus distorting international competition,” the ECAs said in a statement.

While the statement doesn’t call out China by name, Chinese export credits have long been seen as a competitive threat by Europe’s ECAs. China is not a member of the OECD and is therefore not obliged to comply with the OECD guidelines that stipulate the financial terms and conditions that its members may offer, leaving scope for an unfair advantage for Chinese exporters.

The three ECAs say they will now work together to boost their competitiveness by bundling orders, conducting joint road shows in emerging markets and offering complete financing packages to prospective clients.

“It is of great help for both companies and banks if they can expect a financing package,” says Peter Gisler, director of Serv. “At the same time, the exporter gains a competitive edge if they can complement their commercial and technical offer with financing at attractive conditions.”

The ECAs have also agreed to work together on digitisation, data analytics, automatic credit rating and co-operation in claims handling, with an employee exchange programme creating new knowledge-sharing opportunities. Furthermore, the trio say they will be holding the first of a series of joint industry conferences in the final quarter of this year, focusing on rail infrastructure.

Helmut Bernkopf, member of the board of management of OeKB, says: “Germany, Austria and Switzerland are the home of an extraordinarily high number of hidden champions. They are world market leaders in their particular niche. We can improve the visibility of their competence through co-operating even closer with our German-speaking ECA partners and expanding the range of activity especially for small and mid-size enterprises.”

Levelling the increasingly bumpy playing field of international trade has been a key focus for European ECAs of late. News earlier this year that EU ambassadors had endorsed a capital requirements regulation adjustment package, including an exemption for export credits from the leverage ratio, resolved in part a long-standing headache for Europe’s exporters and their export finance banks, who were struggling to match financing terms achieved by competitors from other markets.