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What's New! Vol. 5, No. 5

  May 2006


"What's New!" is a periodic update to keep you informed of the latest on the ECA Watch website. What's New! features a wide range of materials related to the reform of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) including NGO publications and releases, news articles, commentaries and announcements about the policies and practices of ECAs and ECA-financed projects world-wide. If you would like to receive "What's New!" simply add your e-mail to the ECA-Action list at www.eca-watch.org today! Questions? Email info-at-eca-watch.org
  1) OECD approves new Action Statement on Bribery and Official Export Credits
  2) Civil society presses OECD on Common Approaches to the Environment
  3) India looks to JIBC for lower monitoring requirements than World Bank
  4) Ilusu dam update
  5) Index of What's New back issues
  6) Pulp Friction: Increasingly bitter dispute over pulp mills on Uruguay River
  7) BTC pipeline terrorist alert
  8) Sakhalin - Shell falsifies monitoring reports
  9) Disagreements still remain on agricultural export credit competition
  10) The IFC Performance Standards: One Step Forward, One Step Back
  11) Legal Obligations of ECAs With Respect to Human Rights
  View Back Issues of What's New
   
1. OECD approves new Action Statement on Bribery and Official Export Credits
(ECA Watch, Paris, 15 May 2006) The export credit agencies (ECAs) of the OECD have agreed on improved common measures aimed at avoiding taxpayer support for export contracts that are tainted by bribery.
 
2. Civil society presses OECD on Common Approaches to the Environment
A May 29, 2006 consultation in Paris brought ECA Watch members, TUAC, BIAC and European banking officials together with delegates of the OECD Working Group on Export Credits to begin discussions of revisions to the OECD Recommendation on Common Approaches to the Environment and Offical Export Credits
  . Agenda
  . Background and Room Documents
    ECA Watch letter of 9 June 2006 to OECD suggesting Common Approaches language
 
3 India looks to JIBC for lower monitoring requirements than World Bank
(Daily News & Analysis, Mumbai, 18 May 2006) OECD ECAs continue to compete by reducing the compliance of large projects with environmental standards, thereby reducing overall project costs.
 
4 Ilusu dam update
(Ilusu Dam Campaign, Oxford, 6 April 2006) Plans for large dams in southeast Turkey including the discredited Ilisu dam project may yet go ahead in spite of adverse impacts on cultural and environmental rights, according to a new report. NGO campaigns to oppose ECA support are gearing up to oppose these plans.
 
5 Index of back issues - August 2005 - April 2006
ECA Watch has published a handy index of our monthly What's New bulletin covering the issues from August 2005 through April 2006.
 
6. Pulp Friction: Increasingly bitter dispute over pulp mills on Uruguay River
Complaints about giant paper mills and plantations, many funded by ECAs, are being heard with increasing frequency as the US$430 billion-a-year pulp industry expands.
 
7. BTC pipeline terrorist alert
(Guardian Weekly, London, 4 June 2006) As the US$4 billion BTC - Baku Tbilisi Ceyhan - pipeline comes on stream, critics say it passes too close to volatile breakaway regions in both Georgia and Azerbaijan, making it vulnerable to sabotage that could cause a catastrophic spill. Financial support for this disasterous project has been provided by several ECAs.
 
8. Sakhalin - Shell falsifies monitoring reports
(Observer, London, 21 May 2006) Sakhalin Energy, in which oil giant Shell has a controlling stake is facing allegations that it is misleading potential funders. The company is claiming to comply with environmental standards despite evidence to the contrary. At stake is the trust that potential lenders, including publicly funded ECAs, can put in clients to provide accurate monitoring and compliance reports.
 
9. Disagreements still remain on agricultural export credit competition
(Bridges Weekly Trade News, Geneva, 17 May 2006) As the first fortnight of an intensive six-week cycle of agriculture negotiations drew to a close, WTO Members remained divided on how to develop disciplines on a range of policies including export credits. One reference paper on export credits contains proposed rules for export financing support to ensure that governments cannot make loans on overly favourable terms to support the purchase of their farm exports.
 
10. IFC Performance Standards: One Step Forward, One Step Back
(Halifax Initiative, Ottawa, 24 May 2006) This analysis of the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Sustainability Policy, Performance Standards and Disclosure Policy provides a brief overview of each policy and standard, where it goes beyond the previous safeguard policies, where it falls short, and what is missing. ECAs are considering adoption of the IFC performance standards in the current review of the Common Approaches.
 
11. Legal Obligations of ECAs With Respect to Human Rights
(Halifax Initiative, Ottawa, 29 May 2006) This preliminary working draft is a revision of an earlier legal discussion paper from ESCR-Net and ECA-Watch. It provides an overview of Export credit agencies, and how ECA-funded activities impact human rights. It explores the international law of state responsibility as applied to ECAs, concluding that ECAs, as organs or agents of the state, must comply with the international obligations of the state. It then explores the legal implications of this conclusion for ECAs.
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