Riding a new administration campaign to boost U.S. exports, the Bankers Association for Foreign Trade has launched a computerized data base to bridge the information gap between U.S. and foreign banks and exporters seeking trade finance.

The Washington, D.C.- based association, which has around 200 U.S. and foreign banks as members, currently has over 180 banks on-line.

"The program is part of a more proactive approach to international trade and helps exporters find banks that can provide them with trade finance," said Mary Condeelis, executive director of the association.

Association officials said demand for trade finance has been increasing as U.S. manufacturers and suppliers of services have expanded into new markets in Latin America and Asia in recent years.

In a number of instances, they added, U.S. banks that previously refrained from providing trade finance have started doing so..

Rapid Growth Seen

Officials of the association said the number of U.S. and foreign banks participating in the program is growing rapidly.

Since the program got under way last month, 180 banks have joined and more are adding their names daily, association officials said.

The program, known as Axcap, for Access to Export Capital, has been launched with a $ 125,000 grant from the Department of Commerce and unspecified funding from the U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership.

"Axcap serves as a tool for assisting exporters seeking trade finance and banks that provide trade finance services," said Eric M. Price, project manager for the program.

The data base operates as a catalogue listing U.S. and foreign banks involved in trade finance and what trade finance services they offer.

The program will also provide rapid information on services offered by U.S. government export credit agencies such as the Export-Import Bank.

The association is making the service available to banks and potential exporters free of charge via a toll-free number, 1-800-49AXCAP.

The exporter with an inquiry is connected to a trade specialist, who then matches the caller's needs with the name of a bank that can provide the services.

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