Limited access to credit can limit access to growth. Without working capital at competitive rates, exporters can’t pay for the resources needed to produce finished goods for shipping, cover standby letters of credit, apply for credit insurance or finance foreign receivables.

But export finance is more than just money. Businesses also need expert assistance to understand and mitigate foreign trade risk, assess a prospective buyer’s creditworthiness, negotiate contracts and obtain payment.

The Washington State Department of Commerce and other public/private entities can help small and mid-sized businesses find finance solutions through little-known resources that provide much needed financial support to successfully enter international markets.

For more details, follow the links on this page to access to our Export Voucher application, information about government-backed loans for Washington State businesses, counseling and consulting services through the Export Finance Assistance Center of Washington, and other publicly funded financing.


Export Voucher Program – The Washington State Department of Commerce’s Export Voucher program, funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) State Trade Expansion Program, offers qualified companies new to exporting or expanding into new export markets up to $10,000 for export-related expenses (a minimum 25% cash match is required).  Read more

Export Finance Assistance Center – The Export Finance Assistance Center of Washington (EFACW) works in concert with the international trade experts at the Washington State Department of Commerce to provide an integrated menu of services that help businesses implement their export strategy.

The Center provides free export finance counseling to small and medium-sized Washington exporters or prospective exporters.

EFACW was created by the Washington State Legislature in 1983 as a nonprofit organization and is funded mainly by the state of Washington.

Center staff can help your business navigate international trade transactions and find the right export financing by helping you:

  • Understand an export transaction
  • Grasp the basics of export financing
  • Navigate Ex-Im Bank and SBA finance programs
  • Access credit insurance
  • Negotiate contracts with foreign buyers
  • Deal with foreign exchange issues

For more information, visit

STEP Grant – The STEP grant, funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, supports state programs that help small businesses access global markets and increase sales of world-class, American-made goods and services.

The Washington State Department of Commerce has been one of the largest grant recipients in the nation, with a total of $10.9 million over the program’s 10 years of operation.

More than 1,000 small businesses from around the state have benefited from the first 10 years of STEP-funded support, achieving $750 million in sales, making Washington number one among all states participating in the program.

For the 10th year of our STEP program, beginning October, 2022, and running through September 2023, the Washington State Department of Commerce STEP activities include an Export Voucher program, Commerce-led trade show delegations to key events around the globe, targeted support for rural, veteran, minority and women-owned businesses, and expert financial counseling for companies in need of more complex export finance support.

Take advantage of Export Washington programs like STEP and become a Washington State export success story!

For more information about the STEP program in Washington State and how it can help build your business, please contact Commerce at 206-256-6100.

Other Export Options – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Export-Import Bank, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offer various loan, credit guarantee and cash incentive programs for qualifying exporting businesses.

These programs make it easier to secure financing and credit guarantees that reduce the risk of nonpayment.

U.S. Small Business Administration

Three programs of special interest to Washington State exporters include:

Export Working Capital Program: Designed for small business exporters that need financing to support foreign transactions. Since most banks in the U.S. do not lend against export orders, export receivables or letters of credit, SBA provides lenders guarantees of up to 90 percent on export loans to ensure that qualified exporters do not lose viable export sales due to a lack of working capital.

International Trade Loan Program: Offers term loans to businesses that plan to start or continue exporting or that have been adversely affected by competition from imports. The proceeds of the loan must enable the borrower to be in a better position to compete. Funds may be used for the acquisition, construction, renovation, modernization, improvement or expansion of long-term fixed assets or the refinancing of an existing loan used for these same purposes.

Export Express: Helps small businesses develop or expand their export sales by providing exporters and lenders with a streamlined method to obtain SBA-backed financing for loans and lines of credit up to $250,000. The SBA temporarily provides lenders with up to a 90 percent guaranty on export loans as a credit enhancement to encourage participating banks to make loans that make the necessary export financing available.

For more information contact:

John F. Brislin
Export Finance Manager
SBA Office of International Trade
U.S. Small Business Administration

Tel: (206) 584-3486

Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank)

Helps finance the export sales of small and large companies in the U.S. through working capital guarantees (pre-export financing), export credit insurance, loan guarantees, and direct loans (buyer financing). The agency recently opened a Seattle office specifically to boost exporting among small businesses in the Pacific Northwest.

Export Credit Insurance: Provides payment coverage for both commercial risks (such as buyer default) and political risks (such as war). The Bank protects sales to a single buyer or an entire export portfolio. Enables exporters to sell on competitive “open account” terms, instead of requiring cash-in-advance or costly and complicated letters of credit. May be used to increase an exporter’s borrowing base with a lender, thereby accelerating cash flow.

Working Capital: Helps U.S. companies obtain vital loans to fulfill export orders with a guaranteed credit line that may be used to purchase finished products, pay for raw materials, supplies, labor and overhead, and even cover standby letters of credit used as performance or bid bonds.

Term Financing: Provides access to competitive financing with extended repayment terms to buy U.S.-made capital goods and services.

For more information contact:

Mitsu Saito

Business Development Officer
Export-Import Bank of the United States


Tel. (206) 738-7955


USDA Export Credit and Incentive Programs

Available assistance includes:

Export Credit Guarantees: Supports commercial financing of U.S. agricultural exports. These USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) programs encourage exports to buyers in countries where credit is necessary to maintain or increase U.S. sales, but where financing may not otherwise be available.

Facility Guarantees: Provides payment guarantees to facilitate the financing of manufactured goods and services exported from the U.S. to improve or establish agriculture-related facilities in emerging markets.

Dairy Export Incentive Program: Helps exporters of U.S. dairy products meet prevailing world prices for targeted dairy products and destinations. Under the program, the USDA pays cash to exporters as bonuses, allowing them to sell certain U.S. dairy products at prices lower than the exporter’s costs of acquiring them.

Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA®)

A state regional trade group that assists U.S. agribusinesses that want to expand to international markets through three key programs:

Branded Program: Matching funds to support marketing and promotional campaigns.

Generic Program: Export assistance including technical, logistical, language translation, buyer introductions, buying mission inclusions, international trade shows and other support.

Export Education: Training that enhances exporter knowledge through market trend webinars, market research and consumer insights

For more information contact:

WUSATA® – Western United States Agricultural Trade Association

Additional resources

Need help?

Contact the Export Assistance team at 206-256-6100.