Finland’s export credit agency (ECA), Finnvera, can now offer credit directly to foreign customers of Finnish export companies after the country’s parliament approved a necessary amendment last week.

Finnvera says that the goal is to give smaller export projects and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) improved access to financing.

“Currently, Finnvera grants large export credits to foreign buyers but only in cooperation with banks. However, it has been difficult to arrange buyer financing for export transactions amounting to less than €20mn, which has slowed down the development of the exports of Finnish SMEs in particular,” Juuso Heinilä, executive vice-president at Finnvera, tells GTR.

“Finnvera’s new export credit to the buyer, aimed at smaller transactions, responds to the Finnish exporters’ needs and fills a gap in the financial market,” adds Heinilä.

Passed on January 13, the amendment will come into effect after confirmation by the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö. Finnvera expects to start granting export credits of between approximately €1mn and €20mn from the beginning of March this year.

Gaining access to trade finance amid a widening finance gap has long been a problem for SMEs. The Asian Development Bank, for instance, has identified a global gap between supply and demand of US$1.7tn, with SMEs hardest hit by trade finance request rejections.