The German government has launched export finance advisory units in Dubai, Singapore and Nairobi to provide advice to foreign buyers, exporters and local banks in the regions, while also working closely with the German export credit agency (ECA) Euler Hermes.

The units, known as competence centres, sit within the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs), and are coordinated with Euler Hermes, providing advice on German exports and export finance to buyers, exporters and local commercial banks in their respective regions.

Following a 12-month pilot period, the Dubai competence centre was launched in September 2019, with the Singapore and Nairobi units rolled out the following month.

Eva Steinhaus, former director of export finance at Commerzbank Dubai, heads up the Middle East unit, Markus Leichum, moved from DZ Bank to lead the Singapore arm, and Eva Rösler, former I&M Bank manager and based in Nairobi, will cover East Africa.

“There are other ECAs with on-the-ground presence abroad, particularly in Dubai,” Steinhaus told GTR at the GTR Mena conference in Dubai last week. “They [Euler Hermes] were thinking for a while that this would be a good opportunity to represent Germany’s exports outside of the country. So, back in September, it was put into action and a decision was made to have permanent representation outside of Germany to advise buyers and banks.”

“What I do is advise and help out people who have questions on what’s possible and the ECA cover process, often it will lead to them getting in touch with Hamburg [for Euler Hermes cover],” she says.

Steinhaus adds that there are a number of hotspots in the Middle East for German exports, where she is offering export finance advice to banks, exporters and importers. “Egypt and Saudi Arabia are of interest and Iraq is always a topic of discussion, especially since the German government has, over the last few years, been supportive to exports to the country and remains open to receiving applications. Though, anywhere in the region that German goods and services are being exported to can be offered support.”

In 2018, the four largest groups of exported goods made up over 50% of German exports: vehicles and vehicle parts (17.5%), machinery (14.8%), chemical products (9.0%) and computer and electrical equipment (8.8%), according to the federal ministry for economic affairs and energy (BMWI).

The German government may open further competence centres in the future, Steinhaus says, if the model proves to be successful.