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These countries are exporters interested in - What is the outlook for export financing?

31.08.2018

The news right now is characterised by uncertainty in world politics and the world economy, which poses challenges for enterprises involved in exports. On the other hand, enterprises see a lot of potential for growth in internationalisation and export trade. In the export trade financing barometer published in June, even more than half of respondents reported that they are planning to start exports to new destination countries.

–Export is extremely important for the entire Finnish economy. Often the impression of export is dominated by large corporates but the importance of export is clearly seen in the SME’s cooperating with large corporates. Companies within industry clusters and networks promote one another’s growth, says Executive Vice PresidentJussi Haarasilta of Finnvera.

The top 10 export countries are nearly the same as the countries enterprises turn to in their search for new export markets. Only the order is slightly different. In the plans of enterprises, the number 1 country is Germany. The United States and China move upwards on the list and Russia downwards.

Export trade financing barometer 6/2018:
Most important export countries, top 10

To which countries are you planning to start export trade?

Sweden 52 %
Germany 40 %
Norway 26 %
Russia 23 %
Estonia 22 %
USA 20 %
UK 17 %
France 16 %
China 15 %
Poland 13 %

Germany 14 %
Sweden 13 %
Norway 13 %
USA 12 %
China 11 %
France 10 %
UK 10 %
Russia 9 %
Denmark 8 %
Canada 6 %

All respondents, n=654

Planning export trade to new countries of destination, n=341

What do these countries look like from the export financing point of view?

Industrialised Western countries

The estimated outlook for financing in Finnvera’s half-year report, released August 22th 2018, stated that demand for export financing for trade to industrialised Western countries remains strong.

An example of the neighbouring countries is Norway where there are an estimated 200–300 Finnish companies operating in the country, but there is potential for many more Finnish exporters. Norway’s share of the Finnihs export is approximately 3 per cent. Traditionally, the construction industry, oil, gas and energy industries have attracted companies to Norway. Efforts are made actively to increase exports to Norway, and Finnvera and Business Finland have now had a joint representative in Norway for more than a year. At the moment, Commercial Counsellor Jukka Suokas works in this position.

Russia

For a long time, Russia has been an important trading partner for Finns. Russia is also one of Finnvera’s largest country exposures.

“Enterprises with extensive experience in exports still find opportunities in Russia. Good personal relations and a long-time experience in Russian trade make it possible to continue trading also during recession,” says Timo Pietiläinen, Head of Finnvera’s representative office in St. Petersburg.

There are still many enterprises contemplating the export opportunities offered by Russia, but there are fewer new players than before. According to Pietiläinen, uncertain market conditions have driven enterprises to look for new potential export markets elsewhere. Demand for Finnvera’s financing for new projects in Russia is relatively weak and enterprises postpone their investment decisions due to sanctions and the increasing uncertainty of the business environment.

United States

For many enterprises, the US market is still the epitome of successful world conquest. In the export trade financing barometer, the country was the fourth most popular new export market among enterprises contemplating the expansion of their export trade. However, currently the United States’ protectionist economic approach and political fluctuations impair predictability. For instance, import tariffs do not necessarily have a direct impact on Finnish enterprises involved in export trade, but multiplier impacts may have indirect effects.

From Finnvera’s point of view, the United States is a special case as, due to cruise ship deals, the country is Finnvera’s largest country exposure by far and an extremely important country of export for Finland. The United States is always an interesting market, and its development is followed closely at all levels of business life.

China

At the moment, China is investing strongly in different parts of the world. However, there seems to be export opportunities to China opening up as well. Finnvera’s export financing exposure in China has remained low for a long time, but a slight increase in demand is in sight.

“It seems that in China there has emerged a need to diversify sources of financing and learn to cooperate with Western providers of financing. Talk about a trade war and the possibility of stronger protectionism increase uncertainty, and it is still too early to say how this will affect trade between Finland and China. Finnvera estimates that, for the time being, the favourable economic situation will improve enterprises’ opportunities to acquire financing but, due to increasing political uncertainty, it is difficult to anticipate future development,” says Team Leader Anu-Leena Koskelainen.

Other countries:
Brazil

Brazil is one of Finnvera’s largest country exposures and, especially in the forest industry and telecommunications, it is an important country of export for Finland. There are also opportunities in the energy sector and in the gradually recovering mining industry. The challenges related to the political system create uncertainty in Brazil, but the country’s economy is expected to grow despite the growing need for structural reforms. Demand for export credit guarantees is estimated to gradually take an upward turn after a few quieter years. The main potential can still be found in the wood processing sector, but demand in smaller projects opens up opportunities in a wide range of sectors as Brazil’s demand is an excellent match for Finnish supply.  

Iran

The withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and the new sanctions changed the situation in Iran, a country where Finnish enterprises involved in export trade had increased their activities little by little. There would be interest and demand with regard to Iran but, due to the sanctions, banks cannot finance export trade transactions and neither can Finnvera grant export credit guarantees. Consequently, exports to Iran have practically come to a standstill.

Turkey

The Turkish lira plummeted in August as the United States placed sanctions and import tariffs on Turkey. Even before that, the country had been suffering from the current account deficit and an impaired business atmosphere for a long time.

“The situation in Turkey appears to be continuously deteriorating. Turkey’s OECD rating lowered to the category 5/7 at the June rating meeting. It means that ECA’s have a common view of the increased risks which affects for example the pricing of the export financing. Finnvera assesses project risks on a case-by-case basis and, for instance, grants short-term letter of credit guarantees to banks with risk sharing. In this manner, we try to support new export trade transactions and ensure that they become reality. We follow the situation closely and are currently adhering to a case-by-case country policy,” says Anu-Leena Koskelainen.

More financing knowledge to exporters

Finnish SMEs involved in export trade are likely to fail to close deals as they are not sufficiently familiar with the financing options offered to the buyer. One in five enterprises involved in exports have suffered from credit losses in recent years due to the buyer not paying its invoices. All this is revealed by the export trade financing barometer commissioned by Finnvera, Finland Chamber of Commerce and the International Chamber of Commerce ICC and published in June.

To increase awareness of financing options and protection against risks, Finnvera, Chambers of Commerce, banks and private credit insurers organise an export trade financing tour that provides advice on export challenges especially to SMEs involved in exports. The tour will begin in Jyväskylä on 26 September and cover 10 locations.

Further reading:

Finnvera and the Chamber of Commerce: Finnish enterprises fail to close deals in export trade – financing options not well-known

Finnvera Group’s Half-Year Report 1 January–30 June 2018 - Strong demand for financing has raised export financing exposures

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