The U.S. Small Business Administration is counting on the Internet to change community bankers' views about international trade.

Recognizing that most small banks consider trade financing to be more trouble than it is worth, the agency has developed an on-line rating service that, in a few keystrokes, can help a bank determine the creditworthiness of foreign companies that trade with its small-business customers. SBA officials hope the quick-response system -- to be launched today in New England -- will ease bankers' fears and encourage them to finance more imports and exports.

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