Exporters forced to forgo $50m.

Manufacturers want government guarantees to help secure risk insurance.

bagir factory 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
bagir factory 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Israel Manufacturers Association wants the government and the Finance Ministry to extend state guarantees to help beleaguered exporters secure risk insurance. "Private companies insuring exports have turned down credit frameworks for factories totalling $50 million, according to a recent survey among 71 factories," association president Shraga Brosh said Sunday. "The government... should broaden guarantees to foreign-trade risk insurance and consider increasing the risk level it is prepared to guarantee." Fifty-two percent of the surveyed factories had canceled export transactions for the coming year because they were denied insurance, the association said. Credit-insurance policy provides compensation in cases of insolvency or for overdue payment and leaves the handling of debt that is difficult to collect to the issuer. Israeli Credit Insurance Company Ltd. (ICIC), which insures sales totaling more than $11 billion annually in local and foreign-trade transactions, and Clal Credit Insurance are two main issuers of credit insurance. Credit frameworks for factories for the purpose of export-transaction insurance issued by ICIC and Clal have been cut by about 30%, the survey showed. Over the past half year, 56% of the surveyed factories had requests for new credit lines turned down. Many factories encountered difficulties in getting insurance coverage for export-credit transactions: 66% to eastern Europe; 57% to western Europe; 53% to South America; 33% to North America; 26% to Asia. In recent months, private credit-insurance companies were either approving insurance for a quarter of the amount of certain transactions, while for other transactions the timing of approval is very slow, making the transactions irrelevant, the survey showed. In addition, the premium cost on policies for approved transactions is being raised. "This situation is limiting the factories to approve transactions and is an obstacle for boosting export activity," Brosh said. The Kibbutz Industries Association Ltd., an umbrella organization that represents more than 300 kibbutz companies, reported Sunday that companies are being forced to turn down attractive export transactions since they are not able to carry the risk of non-debt payment all by themselves and export-insurance companies are cutting coverage significantly. "There is some understanding for the concerns raised by credit-insurance companies, which themselves are in a state of great uncertainty," Kibbutz Industries Association chairman Yonatan Melamed said Sunday. "This is exactly a situation in which the government needs to intervene, via guarantees for export deals, and determine the criteria for risk sharing between the exporter, the insurance company and the government." Every opportunity for an export deal that is missed has a damaging effect on future business activity, either through the loss of clients or the entry of competitors from other countries who fill the void, he said.