AUSTRALIAN exporters hit by the coronavirus pandemic will now have access to loans between $250,000 and $50m under a new $500 million capital facility to be administered by Export Finance Australia.

The new COVID-19 Export Capital Facility is to target loans to established and previously profitable exporters who, due to the pandemic, are unable to gain finance from commercial sources.

Trade minister Simon Birmingham said the COVID-19 Export Capital Facility would help trade-exposed businesses to get through the crisis.

“These are tough times for many trade-exposed businesses who have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis,” Minister Birmingham said.

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“Rising export costs, disruptions to supply-chains and loss of markets are some of the factors that are making it difficult for exporters to access vital commercial finance.

“We are currently in a difficult credit environment and these loans will provide a lifeline to Australian exporters to help them maintain their operations.”

Mr Birmingham said the COVID-19 Export Capital Facility complemented other initiatives to sustain exporters, and position them to rebound quickly, including the Small and Medium Enterprises Guarantee Scheme that will support up to $40bn of lending to SMEs.

Under this scheme, the government is to guarantee 50% of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SME up to $250,000.

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