JIS News

The Export Import Bank of Jamaica (EXIM Bank) Limited is rolling out its new strategic plan, backed by an injection of some US$6 million from the PetroCaribe Arrangement and another US$23 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
This to realise its target of some $6.6 billion in loans to the productive sector by the end of the 2010/11 financial year. The Bank’s loan portfolio has been augmented by just over $1.2 billion of new money and the targeted increase in its loans portfolio will better by approximately 27 per cent, the $5.2 billion in loans achieved at the end of March in 2009.
Providing details of the plan, EXIM Bank’s Manager, Trade Financing and Risk Management, Valrie Crawford informed JIS News that the “aggressive programme” is designed to significantly boost the country’s export-oriented enterprises. A significant development will be the reduction of interest rates by as much as two percentage points and increased efforts to facilitate the small and medium size enterprise sector.
“The EXIM Bank has placed itself as a catalyst in the lowering of interest rates since the post-debt exchange period. We have had interest rates of 12 per cent on the reducing balance for local currency loans and we will lower the rates to 10 per cent for clients who approach us directly, effective October 1, 2010. For the US denominated loans, the new rate will be 7.5 per cent,” she noted.
EXIM Bank loans accessed through the Bank’s Approved Financial Intermediaries, such as commercial banks, merchant and market brokers, have also been reduced by one percentage point.
In addition, the Bank has been engaging the small and medium size enterprises, particularly those with the ability to achieve their export potential and produce goods for the tourist industry. In this regard, Mrs. Crawford said that the entire US$6 million from PetroCaribe has been earmarked for the small and medium size enterprise sector.
“We have a suite of very exciting loan products to facilitate our clients in accessing financial support to expand their businesses, to retrofit, to upgrade, to re-tool and to be provided with working capital,” she explained.
The EXIM Bank targets growth sectors, such as tourism, mining, services, agro-businesses, creative industries and the information and communications technology sector.
The high cost of energy has been a bugbear of competiveness, particularly among small and medium size enterprises. Addressing this issue, Chief Officer of the Trade Division, Charles Lewis explained that EXIM Bank has recently been granted “approved financial institution” status by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and so can now access the DBJ’s special pool of funds earmarked for energy efficiency.
“We can now access funding to lend to our clients at interest rates as low as 9.75 per cent for domestic loans and 5.63 per cent for US denominated loans. While there is a discreet loan limit of $15 million, there is room for flexibility,” he said. The repayment period is seven years.
To increase its client base and give momentum to export-led growth, the EXIM Bank will embark on an intensified promotional programme. Highlights of the programme include a road-show, targeting major population centres across the island as well as face-to-face consultations with persons in export-oriented businesses. Already, the Bank has undertaken a series of consultations with stakeholders islandwide and has participated in major local trade promotions, in collaboration with JAMPRO.
The EXIM Bank’s strategic plan notes that the organisation enjoys over “90 per cent client loyalty” and that with this record of performance, the Bank is well positioned to fulfill its mission – “To provide competitively priced trade financing and medium-term loans to the productive sector, complemented by trade credit insurance and related services.”

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