U.S. Commerce Department Announces Creation of Trade Finance Advisory Council to Address Financing Challenges Faced by U.S. Exporters

By Melissa Miller Proctor

On July 25th, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the establishment of the new Trade Finance Advisory Council (“TFAC”), which will advise the Secretary of Commerce on strategies and the implementation of new programs that would provide greater access to trade finance for U.S. exporters. Expanding access to public and private sources of finance for U.S. exporters is one of the five primary objectives of the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative. The Commerce Department reports that access to capital is an obstacle for many exporters—particularly small and medium-sized enterprises. Such companies currently represent 98% of all U.S. exporters, but only 35% of the total U.S. export revenue. 

  • The TFAC will be comprised of up to twenty private-sector individuals, appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, who will serve two-year terms. The TFAC will be tasked with: 
  • Providing a forum to facilitate discussions between banks, financial institutions, exporters, and U.S. government agencies;
  • Assessing the current credit conditions and specific financing challenges faced by exporters in accessing finance and propose innovative solutions; and,
  • Identifying emerging financing sources that would address the challenges faced by exporters, and strategizing ways in which these new sources may be rolled out to the export community; and, 
  • Providing recommendations to the Commerce Department on its export promotion and trade finance education outreach efforts.

The Commerce Department’s Office of Finance and Insurance Industries, which is part of the International Trade Administration, is currently accepting nominations for membership on the TFAC.  Members may be selected from: 

  • U.S. exporters of goods and services;
  • U.S. commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions that provide trade finance products, cross-border payment services, or foreign exchange solutions;
  • Associations that represent, U.S. exporters and SMEs, U.S. commercial banks and non-bank 
  • financial institutions, or other professionals that facilitate international trade transactions;
  • U.S. companies whose business includes trade-finance-related activities or services;
  • U.S. scholars, academic institutions, or public policy organizations with expertise in global business, trade finance, and international banking related subjects; and
  • Economic development organizations and other U.S. regional, state and local governmental and non-governmental organizations whose missions include the analysis, provision, or facilitation of trade finance products and services.

Interested persons should submit their nominations for TFAC membership to the Executive Secretary of the Advisory Council on Trade Finance via mail or email on or before August 22, 2016. The Commerce Department’s Federal Register notice providing information on the establishment of the TFAC can be found at 81 Federal Register 48386 (July 25, 2016).