Export credit agencies lurk in the shadows of responsible financing

The full publication of this new 136 page report is available here.

Between 2015 and 2017, Finance & Trade Watch and Bankwatch, together with their national partners, researched export credit agencies (ECAs) in seven countries of the European Union (Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia). The aim of this research was to assess how the procedures and performance of these institutions comply with the relevant national, European and international regulatory frameworks. This first-of-its-kind research examines ECAs in the ‘new’ EU Member States and compares these with an example from the EU 15 – the Austrian ECA OeKB – as well as examples from other EU 15 countries. It shows regulatory gaps and offers a range of policy recommendations.

Export credits are big business. Globally, members of the industry’s Berne Union, both state and private ECAs, insured approximately USD 1.9 trillion per year between 2012 and 2016. That amount far exceeds the total investments of multilateral lenders such as the World Bank and the regional development banks

Key points

  • We  investigated export credit agencies in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Romania. We found that these institutions finance various projects around the world that cannot otherwise access financing.
  • Austria’s Oesterreichische Kontrollbank was also included in the study in order to benchmark ECAs from central and eastern Europe with an ECA that has already made several positive steps in the areas of public participation and transparency.
  • The main problem with the ECAs examined in this study is a lack of transparency around their operations, preventing the public from questioning their dubious investments, particularly in fossil fuels.
  • ECAs often operate outside the reach of national legislation, for example by not following targets for greenhouse gases reduction established by the ratification of Paris Agreement.
  • While ECAs are supposed to adhere to the so-called OECD Common Approaches for environmental and social protections, this normative framework is voluntary and unable to guarantee that harmful investments are prohibited.
  • Standards for ECA reporting to European Commission are too general. There have been complaint submitted by colleges from ECA-Watch to Ombudsman two years ago. There is chance Ombudsman will make press on EC to make the reporting more detailed and stricker.

Background facts and figures

  • None of the ECAs covered by the study publish all information about the projects they support after the fact.
  • The Dutch ECA Atradius DSB publishes a list of cases including projects with credit terms under two years on monthly basis, which is the exception, rather than the rule, for ECA disclosure requirements.
  • Collectively the ECAs featured in this report command nearly EUR 30 billion
  • The volume of ECA support accounts for 11 per cent of world trade.
  • In almost all countries included in the study, court cases have been filed because ECAs have not provided information on request.
  • The Czech Republic has a long history of failed projects in the coal sector, but seems determined to keep this dying industry alive


Media contacts

Thomas Wenidoppler
Finance & Trade Watch

Dan Heuer
Centre for Transport and Energy
CEE Bankwatch Network


Briefings & reports from ECA watch members