Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 05, 2020: Bruno Le Maire, Minister for the Economy and Finance, and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State reporting to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, have unveiled an extraordinary support plan for French exporters to address the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This emergency plan will provide support for exporter companies having to contend with the immediate repercussions of the crisis by, inter alia, securing their cash-flow and ensuring their international recovery once the pandemic is over. It focuses on SMEs and mid-tier companies which are crucial drivers for industry throughout France. It supplements the emergency support measures for French companies rolled out by the government.
The plan contains four one-off support measures for exporter companies:
1. Bolstering government guarantees via Bpifrance for security and pre-financing for export projects to secure the cash-flow of exporter companies. The proportions guaranteed may be increased to 90% for all SMEs and mid-tier companies. The term of export pre-financing guarantee agreements will be extended to six months.
2. Currently valid prospecting insurance will be extended by a year thus prolonging the prospecting period covered.
3. A €2 billion capacity will be contributed to short-term export credit insurance by broadening the Cap Francexport public reinsurance scheme. This mechanism will extend to all the countries of the world.
4. Assistance and information from Team France Export stakeholders (Business France, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Bpifrance) will be heightened in conjunction with the French regions and the network of foreign trade advisers, acting in tandem with private sector support players. Special monitoring of each geographic area of interest to the relevant companies is being implemented. Business France is also adjusting its offering to put forward solutions to address the ban on foreign travel.
Financial support resources for exports will also remain fully available to help businesses preserve or rapidly restore their international markets and will be actively used to assist their recovery once the pandemic is over, as will initiatives from Team France Export:
Prospecting insurance for SMEs and mid-tier companies to investigate possibilities in new markets
FASEP, a subsidy for upstream studies into projects for infrastructure and innovative technology demonstrators
Credit insurance managed by Bpifrance
Treasury loans for State to State projects in emerging and developing countries, especially for health-related issues in countries affected by the coronavirus by positioning the French industrial offering in this respect.
Bruno Le Maire declared:
“The export support plan that we are rolling out today will enable our businesses, in particular SMEs, to maintain their international positions in the face of difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with all Team France Export stakeholders, we will do our utmost to safeguard our exporters' competitiveness which has improved significantly since the start of President Macron's term of office”.
Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne declared:
“Export opportunities make our companies more robust in the face of the current problems. The sun appears to be rising already in the east, in Asia. By bolstering our financial support and international assistance, we are looking to help businesses cope with this difficult period and to pave the way for the recovery once the health situation allows this. We can rely on the strength of Team France Export and the solidity of the partnership forged with the French regions”.
The four measures of the emergency plan for exports
Measure no. 1
Bolstering export guarantee and pre-financing arrangements
For SMEs and mid-tier companies, and for the entire duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bpifrance Assurance Export can now cover its insurees (credit institutions) for up to 90% of issued and declared guarantee commitments (export guarantee insurance) or pre-financing that has been set up (pre-financing guarantee) – compared to 80% previously. For other businesses, insurees may be covered for up to 70% as against 50% in the past.
Companies that apply for an export pre-financing guarantee will now have six months (instead of four) to set up the underlying pre-financing loan, as from notification from Bpifrance Assurance Export that its guarantee has been granted.
Tangible changes brought about by the measure
For businesses: less use of cash-flow to carry out export transactions.
For issuer institutions: less risk when issuing guarantees or implementing pre-financing loans; extra time to implement pre-financing loans making it easier to grant this type of financing to companies.
Export guarantee insurance: to answer international invitations to tender and win export contracts, or to ensure proper performance of a contract by a French exporter, guarantees often have to be given to the foreign debtor in consideration of a down payment. These guarantees, which are issued by bank partners, are first demand guarantees. Export guarantee insurance covers the issuer institution in the event that the French exporter fails to pay these amounts, whether this is due to a simple default or court-ordered insolvency. It therefore facilitates the issuance of guarantees on contracts.
Pre-financing guarantee: business negotiations often impose late payments and inadequate down payments. These constraints put a drag on companies' cash-flow and require bank financing to be obtained to expedite export transactions (for instance, raw material procurement to manufacture the exported goods). The pre-financing guarantee covers lender banks against the risk of non-repayment of the pre-financing loan by the French exporter company in a situation of default or court-ordered insolvency.