Last year, according to the 2017 FIEM report, only 184.8 million euros were used, a figure that is still lower than the previous year (226.6 million). Its creation was due to the need to cover gaps in the market in which traditional banks did not enter, either because operations of this type involved excessive costs or risks to their balance sheets. This low result occurs despite the fact that small businesses continue to report difficulties in finding credits for export in the market.
"To succeed in foreign trade there are three keys: sell quality with a good price and provide financing facilities to the buyer. It is the formula to be competitive, "says Joan Tristany, general director of the Association of Internationalized Industrial Companies (Amec). These facilities are what the FIEM would have to solve. Tristany denounces that the main victims of this situation are the pymes They need credits to finance foreign sales below one million euros. The industry has sought for years a credit formula that would allow it to ensure its international adventure, not without risk. The FIEM, which is articulated with resources from the Official Credit Institute (ICO), had to fulfill that role and last year created a special line for SMEs. But only three operations of less than one million were carried out. The average amount amounted to 10.7 million.
The process to get an FIEM, denounce different sources, is complex, cumbersome and long. Although last year the Council of Ministers went through operations for a total amount of 184.8 million, the reality is that as of December 31, 2017, the amount actually financed was only 120 million euros.
Tristany assures that there are operations that have been extended beyond a year. In the Administration are aware and last year enabled a fast line, and some people say that some operation has been closed in less than 50 days. But the general feeling is that the average approval of an operation is six months. "These are credits that are granted after evaluating the debtor and guarantor, within acceptable limits, in order to ensure reimbursement," they say from the Ministry of Industry through an email.
"In close collaboration with the companies, in recent years, measures to streamline the procedure have been carried out, without altering the criteria for control and good management of the instrument," said the same government sources, who point out that in the market there is "ample" availability of funds.
The head of international exports of a large bank admits that the companies that propose small operations are left out of the circuit offered by commercial banks, especially because the expenses inherent to the operations, the equipment that must be mobilized in the countries of destination or the The fact that in some cases it is traded with high-risk countries (according to the OECD) makes such operations excessively expensive and impedes their profitability for financial institutions. The manager says that an operation of this type can reach 5% of the credit that is demanded if this is half a million euros.
Hence the creation of the FIEM, although it has not been used by SMEs because it is still too unknown and because the form that companies must fill in is often excessively "complex" for small companies. "There is a willingness on the part of the Administration to simplify the processes," says one manager of this type of operation. The FIEM received a setback from the Court of Auditors: a report indicated that the cancellation of funds for an amount of 740 million in 2016 had been improperly approved.