UK Export Finance: Highlighting the challenges of international trade

International trade can bring you unique rewards. However, it also has its challenges. Tim Burden, UK Export Finance (UKEF)’s Export Finance Manager for Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and South Wiltshire, explains more.

Whether you’re a seasoned exporter or making your first foray into overseas markets, international trade can bring you unique rewards. However, it also has its challenges.

If you want to go global and need to secure the right financial support, UK Export Finance (UKEF) can help. As a government department, we have the Treasury’s backing to help UK companies win contracts, deliver them and secure payment for them. 

Recently, we saw UKEF announce its support for Aquamare Marine, one of the many businesses with which we work in Devon. Aquamare Marine’s successful expansion into Florida and the boat-building sector offers a great example of how our financial backing can help businesses break into new overseas markets. 

Mike Sommerfield, company director, describes Aquamare Marine starting as a service business for luxury yacht builders in Plymouth and Europe:

“Before we went to America, we had teams of guys that flew around the world constantly. We would get a phone call in the evening, saying, ‘Tomorrow I need someone in Croatia, France, Spain or wherever.’

“Sometimes we would just send people driving up the M5 towards an airport and we would figure out the flight and where they were going while they drove.”

The business then had the opportunity to set up shop in America – specifically Florida, where yacht suppliers wanted reliable servicing.

Sommerfeld said, “It was an opportunity for us, because we pride ourselves on the fact that if you ask us to do something, we will handle it.”

However, local US regulations made it hard for foreign-owned companies to get financing and even operate in the area.

At this point, UKEF stepped in with a ‘General Export Facility’ guarantee, giving Aquamare Marine’s bank Santander the confidence to provide funding to the business. Buoyed by the support, Aquamare Marine was able to move to Fort Lauderdale marine centre and expand into offices, workshops and a hangar space over there. This helped the business to increase its revenue several times over, increase its workforce from 20 to 140 people and now move into boat-building.

To put it into perspective, our General Export Facility product helped UK businesses access around £325 million in financing last year. The facility is flexible, meaning that as long as the company is eligible as an exporter, funds are not tied to specific contracts.

So, if your business has a viable export opportunity, we are here to help ensure you have appropriate funding to bid for, win and fulfil the contract.

Guarantees aside, we also provide Export Insurance which can cover up to 95% of potential losses under an export contract if you can’t get private sector insurance.

As UKEF’s dedicated representative covering Devon (as well as Somerset and Cornwall), I can help you understand the export financing options available to your business. You can contact me at for a free, impartial and confidential discussion. Finance and insurance don’t need to be the barrier to your exporting ambitions.

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