Welcome to ECA Watch

Export credit agences provide government-backed loans, guarantees and insurance to corporations working internationally in some of the most volatile, controversial and damaging industries on the planet.

Shrouded in mystery, ECAs provide financial backing for risky projects that might never otherwise get off the ground. They are a major source of national debt in developing countries.

ECA Watch is a network of NGOs from around the world. We come together to campaign for ECA reform - better transparency, accountability, and respect for environmental standards and human rights.

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What's New for March 2024

"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

See all "What's New!" updates since 2005 here

  • Exim Approves $500 Million for Bahrain Oil Project Despite Biden’s Climate Commitments.
  • Fury Over $500 Million US Export-Import Bank Loan to Bahrain 'Climate Bomb'
  • No role for export credits in the EU’s development finance
  • First-of-its-kind EU export credit facility to target Ukraine rebuild
  • European Commission: NET-ZERO BY 2050 THE ROLE OF EXPORT FINANCE
  • US & EU differ over the future of fossil fuel subsidies in OECD talks
  • Human rights & environmental destruction in Dutch Atradius DSB insured dredging projects
  • UKEFsigns cooperation agreement with U.S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office
  • Total ECA Funders Weigh Mozambique Restart After 3 Year Halt
  • Standard Chartered Faces Complaint for Financing Philippine Coal Plants
  • Oil Trader Gunvor to Pay More Than $660 Million to Resolve Bribe Cases
  • Ineos Receives UKEF Backing for Europe's Largest Petrochemical Plant
  • Dynasty Gold Used Slave Labor in China, Canada Watchdog Says
  • Pentagon pitched EXIM Australian nickel investment
  • Korean ECA to provide $187bn in support to bolster exports
  • EXIM on International Women’s Day 2024
  • Ankura business consultants' turning points for EXIM

Exim Approves $500 Million for Bahrain Oil Project Despite Biden’s Climate Commitments.

(New York times, New York, 14 March 2024) A federal bank that finances projects overseas voted Thursday to put $500 million toward an oil and gas project in Bahrain, a transaction that critics said was out of step with President Biden’s climate commitments. Just days before the vote, six lawmakers had urged the bank, the Export-Import Bank of the United States or ExIm, not to move ahead with the financing, given the project’s negative effects on the climate. “We cannot afford to have ExIm undermine domestic and international climate progress,” lawmakers led by Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, said in a letter to the bank’s board of directors last week. Similar articles appeared in Bloomberg, Reuters, the Huffington Post, Politico and E&ENews. Pope Francis has described delaying action on fossil fuels as “suicidal”, pointing to oil and gas companies continuing to carry out new projects – despite the International Energy Agency recently reaffirming that no new oil, gas, or coal fields are compatible with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5ºC – as humanity faces the increasingly severe consequences of the climate crisis.


Fury Over $500 Million US Export-Import Bank Loan to Bahrain 'Climate Bomb'

(Common Dreams, Portland, 15 March 2024) Despite a Biden administration pledge to stop backing international fossil fuel projects by 2022, the U.S. Export-Import Bank announced Thursday that it would provide a $500 million loan for oil and gas expansion in Bahrain. The funding marks the fifth time that EXIM has chosen to back a fossil fuel project abroad since President Joe Biden joined the Clean Energy Transition Partnership (CETP) at the United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in 2021. "EXIM's decision to approve the Bahrain oil and gas project is another alarming step in the wrong direction for climate action, as the bank goes rogue and continues to defy President Biden's promises," Nina Pušic, an export finance climate strategist at Oil Change International, said in a statement, adding that the project was a "huge climate bomb paid for by the American taxpayer."


No role for export credits in the EU’s development finance

(Counter Balance, Brussels, 13 March 2024) The latest report from Counter Balance titled "No role for export credits in the EU’s development finance" sheds light on the growing presence of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) in the financing landscape of various EU policy proposals, ranging from development finance to critical raw materials. The report examines recent proposals for greater coordination between export credit and development finance, in particular through initiatives such as the EU's Global Gateway strategy. It highlights significant concerns about suitability of such coordination for development objectives, particularly in the absence of binding human rights and environmental standards, ands weak rules on transparency, due diligence and accountability of ECAs as well as Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). Alexandra Gerasimcikova, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Counter Balance, said: "This is another example of the EU's misuse of public development finance to support the European private sector , continuing a well-trodden neo-colonial path in its global South relations. This approach encourages asymmetrical dependencies, where the only concern is to open up new markets for European capital. We need long-term, sustainable financing to support equitable socio-economic transformation globally, not profits of European corporations. ”


First-of-its-kind EU export credit facility to target Ukraine rebuild

(Global Trade Review, London, 25 March 2024) EU officials have revealed that the next phase of a pioneering bloc-wide export credit initiative will target the reconstruction of war-torn Ukraine, an undertaking expected to cost almost half a trillion dollars. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade, last week outlined plans to establish a “complex new policy tool” focused on significant infrastructure projects in the country. Details on how the scheme will operate are still being ironed out, with indications it would operate as a risk-sharing mechanism to support the work of domestic export credit agencies (ECAs). In the past 18 months, European ECAs have collectively pledged hundreds of millions of euros towards Ukraine’s reconstruction, which the World Bank forecasts will cost US$486bn. For the past three years, the Commission has deliberated on plans to establish an export credit strategy, and within this, a pan-EU export credit facility. An independent feasibility study last year concluded the bloc may consider creating a reinsurance function for ECAs.



Organised by the Directorate-General for Trade, European Commission
Thursday, 25 April 2024, Thon Hotel EU, Brussels, with online participation

    • Session one - The Green Transition - Challenges for Export Finance
        ◦ Panel discussion. Representatives of the International Energy Agency, NGOS, business as well as the European Commission will present the context for export credits efforts towards alianment. and will discuss the challenges of the green transition for export finance.
    • Session 2 - National export finance policies: Phasing out fossil fuels and scaling up clean energy
        ◦ Panel discussion. Representatives from ECAs and national governments will discuss approaches they have taken to support the transition to Net Zero by 2050. In Council Conclusions of 15 March 2022, each Member State committed to establishing a national plan to phase out any official support for fossil fuel related projects, while scaling-up clean energy. The panellists will present their national plans and their implementation, followed by a discussion.
    • Session3 - International Cooperation on Export Finance and Climate
        ◦ Panel 3 will assess efforts made at an international level to align the worldwide export credits community with the climate objectives. Two international coalitions of ECAs will present their efforts and be joined by a representative of the European Commission among others.
    • Wrap up & conclusion


US & EU differ over the future of fossil fuel subsidies in OECD talks

(Financial Times, London, 26 March 2024) Second round of discussions ends without significant progress on export credit policies. The world’s richest countries are at odds over ending subsidies for oil and gas development as the US and EU differed over the extent of a ban, according to people familiar with the talks. OECD countries have held a second round of closed-door talks in Paris to debate proposals by the EU and UK to cut off most export credit agency loans and guarantees for oil, gas and coal mining projects, which are the biggest source of international public finance for the sector. This would follow an agreement in 2021 to stop providing such support for coal-fired power. A person familiar with the talks said the US was still assessing the EU’s proposals, with discussions scheduled to continue in June and November. The US Treasury declined to comment. The US, Canada, France, Germany and the UK were among countries that agreed around the UN COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in 2021 to align their public finance institutions with a Paris agreement goal to limit global warming to ideally 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. But this could affect the role of Exim, the US’s credit export agency, which will need to secure fresh funding from the US Congress in 2026, opening it to political scrutiny from Republican lawmakers who are resistant to cutting off finance for oil and gas, and progressive lawmakers critical of the bank’s climate record.


Human rights & environmental destruction in Dutch Atradius DSB insured dredging projects

(Both Ends, Utrecht, 25 March) Over the past 12 years (2012-2023), Dutch export support to dredging companies amounted to €8.4 billion. Dutch-supported projects have been linked to human rights violations and environmental destruction worldwide, revealing the systemic failure of Dutch policies to protect people and the environment. The Dutch government and Dutch dredging companies are not complying with international standards on human rights, biodiversity, and sustainable development. The report examines 12 years of resistance to destructive dredging projects in 7 locations worldwide.


UKEFsigns cooperation agreement with U.S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office

(UK Government, London, 19 March 2024) UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the U.S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office (LPO). The agreement signals UKEF and the LPO’s interest in considering potential new joint financing opportunities for energy and green infrastructure projects.  This is the first-ever MoU between a European export credit agency and LPO, which has closed over $30 billion in financing deals for energy and advanced technology vehicle projects in the last decade. Collaboration and co-financing with UKEF are expected to create new opportunities for British businesses of all sizes – including smaller firms – looking to support US energy and decarbonisation projects.


Total ECA Funders Weigh Mozambique Restart After 3 Year Halt

(Bloomberg, 1 March 2024) Lenders to TotalEnergies SE’s Mozambique liquefied natural gas project are weighing the release of billions of dollars in funding as the company plans to resume construction three years after development was halted by Islamist insurgent attacks. The planned onshore facility designed to export the southern African nation’s major gas discoveries attracted the biggest project financing yet seen in Africa. That was before Islamic State-linked militant attacks near the site in 2021 prompted Total to evacuate its personnel and declare force majeure. The US Export-Import Bank, which committed the biggest share of $4.7 billion in financing — and other lenders that comprise a total of about $15 billion in debt — are conducting assessments on reactivating the funding. The assessment of whether to resume financing coincides with a decision by the Biden administration in January to pause approval of new liquefied natural gas export licenses, in recognition that the climate impact from the fossil fuel needs to be reassessed. The US Eximbank’s loan to the Mozambique project was initially provided in 2020, during the administration of former President Donald Trump. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent Europe on a scramble for alternative energy supplies that boosted interest in upcoming LNG production, projects in nations across Africa are still susceptible to a range of issues including political instability and construction delays. Mozambique has the added obstacle of an insurgency that’s become subdued by armed forces, though the Islamist fighters still carry out sporadic deadly raids. Atradius Dutch State Business, the Amsterdam-based Dutch export-credit agency that’s committed $1 billion to Mozambique LNG, said it’s also assessing the situation. “Due diligence is currently ongoing to assess whether we can allow drawdowns under the loan,” it said.


Standard Chartered Faces Complaint for Financing Philippine Coal Plants

(BNN Breaking News, Hong Kong, 29 February 2024) Environmental and human rights organizations have taken a stand against Standard Chartered, filing a complaint with Britain's National Contact Point for Responsible Business Conduct (NCP) over the bank's financial involvement in four coal-fired power plants in the Philippines. These groups, including the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Inclusive Development International (IDI), Recourse, and BankTrack, assert that the bank's actions have led to detrimental impacts on local communities, including forced evictions, loss of livelihood, and health issues due to pollution. The complaint, lodged with NCP accuses Standard Chartered of failing to perform due diligence that could have prevented the adverse effects experienced by the communities surrounding the coal plants. The NCP, while lacking the authority to enforce action or compensation from Standard Chartered, plays a crucial role in investigating breaches of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Despite the limitations of the NCP's powers, the UK's export credit agency UKEF has indicated that findings from such investigations will influence future decisions on supporting companies and banks involved in financing controversial projects.


Oil Trader Gunvor to Pay More Than $660 Million to Resolve Bribe Cases

(Yahoo Finance, New York, 1 March 2024) Gunvor Group Ltd., one of the world’s top oil traders, will pay more than $660 million to resolve US and Swiss charges that the company paid bribes to Ecuadorian government officials for contracts. The information released by the US is a reminder of the seedy deals made in the not-too-distant-past by some of the biggest firms in commodity trading, which have made billions of dollars in profits on energy market volatility stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic and then the invasion of Ukraine. A shortage of key resources has also seen these companies strengthen ties with governments around the world — just a few months ago, Italy’s export credit agency guaranteed a €400 million ($433 million) loan to Gunvor in return for supplying gas to the country.


Ineos Receives UKEF Backing for Europe's Largest Petrochemical Plant

(ChemAnalyst News, New York, 7 March 2024) In a significant development, the UK government has committed to providing a financial guarantee of EUR 700 million to Ineos, led by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, for the construction of Project One. This ambitious project is poised to become Europe's largest petrochemical plant in three decades. While financial details emerge, environmental groups are gearing up for a legal battle to halt construction, labelling the plant a potential "carbon bomb" that could escalate emissions and contribute to plastic production and waste. The financial backing from the UK government for Ineos' Project One comes to light amidst growing environmental concerns and impending legal challenges. Detractors of the project view it as a significant contributor to carbon emissions and a catalyst for increased plastic production and subsequent waste. These concerns have prompted environmental groups to prepare for legal action aimed at preventing the construction of the plant.


Dynasty Gold Used Slave Labor in China, Canada Watchdog Says

(Yahoo Finance, New York, 26 March 2024) A Canadian watchdog is calling for penalties against Dynasty Gold Corp. after it concluded the company used forced labor at its Chinese mine, which the miner denies. The Canada Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, an arm of the federal government that investigates possible human rights abuses by companies, conducted a review of the Hatu mine in the Xinjiang region after a coalition of 28 Canadian organizations filed complaints alleging human rights abuses. Sheri Meyerhoffer, the ombudsman, is calling on Canada’s trade minister to refrain from supporting the company in international disputes and ban it from receiving financial support from Export Development Canada.


Pentagon pitched EXIM Australian nickel investment

(Australian Financial Review, Washington, 8 March 2024) The Pentagon held discussions with Resources Minister Madeleine King about how it could co-invest in an Australian nickel project alongside the Australian government to help mitigate the impact of a glut undermining future critical minerals self-reliance. Ms King met with the under-secretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment, Bill La Plante, at the Pentagon on Thursday (Friday AEDT) to discuss options available following a collapse in the nickel price that has led to the closure and write-down of Australian projects. “The options around collaboration of government financing agencies with those out of America might be EXIM, or under the Defence Production Act,” she said. The Export-Import Bank is the export credit arm of the US federal government.


Korean ECA to provide $187bn in support to bolster exports

(Pulse News, Seoul, 21 March 2024) The Korea Trade Insurance Corp. (K-SURE), an export credit agency, will provide the largest-ever trade insurance and financial support worth 250 trillion won ($187 billion) to achieve the government‘s target of $700 billion in exports this year. According to sources from the government and the trade industry on Wednesday, K-SURE plans to provide a total of 250 trillion won in support for short-term and medium- to long-term export insurance, export credit guarantees, and exchange rate fluctuation insurance this year.


EXIM on International Women’s Day 2024

(Talk Business, Arkansas, 7 March 2024) International Women’s Day provides the opportunity to highlight the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and to address the diverse challenges women face every day. For the last 25 years, EXIM's Minority- and Women-Owned Business division has been hard at work educating U.S. small businesses about the financial services available to help their businesses compete globally. In the last dozen or so years, this small, independent government agency that punches above its weight has provided over financing to about 1,000 women-owned businesses exporting to 150 countries. [Women face unique challenges both in the U.S. and globally, yet the entrepreneurial spirit of woman business owners and leaders remain inspiring, writes former Export–Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) CEO Kimberly Reed.]


Ankura business consultants' turning points for EXIM

(Ankura Consultants, 20 March 2024) The U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) is among the most impactful government agencies when it comes to helping U.S. companies compete for business internationally, finance domestic manufacturing, and build resilient supply chains. Up until 2019, EXIM policies and products were little changed despite the U.S. economy evolving dramatically away from traditional manufacturing to a technology and services-dominated economy. As a result, EXIM users are calling for EXIM to be more relevant and adaptable to our 21st-century economy. Lawmakers are hearing these calls and becoming more receptive to EXIM reform. For example, in 2019, Congress gave EXIM a mandate to bolster U.S. company competitiveness concerning China. EXIM users applauded. More reforms are under consideration in Washington. 

Five Key EXIM Bank Reforms proposed by Ankura in Washington:

  • 1. Revise EXIM’s U.S. Content Policies to Reflect the Modern Global Supply Chain and Export Finance Environment.
  • 2. Codify EXIM’s “Make More in America Initiative” (MMIA)  
  • 3. Raise EXIM’s 2% Statutory Default Limit and Exempt Technology, Nuclear and National Security Related Financings.
  • 4. Modify EXIM’s Underwriting Criterion of “Reasonable Assurance of Repayment.”
  • 5. Repeal or Modify EXIM’s Prohibition of Financing Sales of Defense Articles and Services

What's New for February 2024

"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

See all "What's New!" updates since 2005 here

  • Joe Biden should end EXIM support for overseas oil and gas projects
  • EXIM Climate Advisors Quit Over Fossil Fuel Plans
  • African Rail Projects Become Battleground For US-China Competition In Strategic Mineral Supply Chains
  • Italian and Japanese ECAs allocate billions for Ukraine
  • ECAs pile in on European battery gigafactories facility
  • Africa’s debt dilemma: The role of ECAs and new strategies
  • SACE plans to back $1.6 billion in debt to Saudi Arabia
  • The real effects of trade financing by ECAs
  • Financing uncertainty clouds South Korean ECA push for massive arms deals
  • Tanzania's Precision Air Faces Legal Action Over $26 Million ATR 42 Debt to EDC
  • India directs ECGC to maintain moratorium on insurance rates for exporters

Joe Biden should end EXIM support for overseas oil and gas projects

(Guardian, London, 14 February 2024) Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth US say the US president must follow his move to restrain fossil fuel expansion at home with similar measures to curb it around the world. We back Bill McKibben’s call for more of the sort of leadership recently shown by President Joe Biden in pausing new liquified natural gas export terminals. Biden has another opportunity to curb the fossil fuel industry’s relentless expansionist agenda and affirm his climate credentials in this election year at an upcoming meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). At Cop26, the UN climate conference in Glasgow in 2021, 34 governments, including the US, pledged to end international public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2022. Despite this, in the last year alone, the US has provided more than $2.2bn to oil and gas projects around the world via its export credit agency, the US Export-Import Bank, and its development finance institution.


EXIM Climate Advisors Quit Over Fossil Fuel Plans

(New York Times, New York, 5 February 2024) A federal bank that finances projects overseas is set to vote on Thursday on whether to use taxpayer dollars to help drill oil and gas wells in Bahrain, a contentious decision that prompted two of the bank’s climate advisers to resign, according to people with knowledge of their decisions. The two advisers, who sit on an 18-person board that President Biden created to help the bank take climate change into account when making investments, resigned last week after a meeting about the Bahrain project, according to five current and former bank officials. They described mounting frustration among climate advisory board members, who say they are being kept in the dark about upcoming fossil fuel loans and blocked from making recommendations about whether to approve or even modify a particular project. Climatewire also notes that Biden embedded climate advisers into America’s export credit agency to increase scrutiny over its investments, but their work has mostly been stymied by the agency’s continued pursuit of fossil fuel projects. Five people with firsthand knowledge of the climate council’s work at EXIM described a sense of frustration over investments into projects such as oil and gas development in Bahrain and an Indonesian oil refinery that received a $100 million loan.


African Rail Projects Become Battleground For US-China Competition In Strategic Mineral Supply Chains

(Benzinga, DEtroit, 12 February 2024) A U.S. delegation to a major mining conference in South Africa last week included officials from the Treasury and State departments and the chair of EXIM. Mining and building infrastructure on the continent hasn't traditionally been a U.S. government priority but that is changing now that decarbonization of the economy has taken a front seat and Washington has grown worried about China's dominance of supply chains for strategic materials, including cobalt and copper, used in electric vehicles and renewable energy systems powered by wind turbines and solar panels. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia hold more than a 10th of the known copper deposits in the earth's crust. The DRC produces around 70% of the world's cobalt, which is generally a byproduct of copper mining. Most of that cobalt is exported to China, which is by far the world's biggest importer of copper ores and concentrates. So it's no surprise that China has been investing heavily in the African mining and transportation sector. Chinese entities own all or part of most of the producing mines in the DRC. China provided interest-free financing for a railway built in the 1970s linking Zambia's Copperbelt to a port in Tanzania on Africa's east coast. China this week announced a plan to revitalize that railway, providing direct competition to a U.S.-backed rail corridor from the mineral-rich area to Angola on the Atlantic side of the continent. The United States is ramping up its efforts to secure critical metals and in May said it was performing due diligence for a potential financing package to fund and upgrade a rail line from the DRC border to the Lobito Port in Angola on Africa's west coast, expected to greatly reduce the time and cost of trucking copper and cobalt to ports. Canadian company Ivanhoe Mines Ltd is the first mining customer for this Lobito corridor, having this week signed an agreement for the right to transport 120,000-240,000 metric tons a year along the line for five years starting in 2025


Italian and Japanese ECAs allocate billions for Ukraine

(Interfax & UKRANEWS, Kiev, 19 February 2024) The Italian export credit agency SACE will allocate 1.5 billion euros to support trade and financial operations, in particular, in the field of healthcare and infrastructure. Japan's NEXI will allocate EUR 1.3 billion to support Japanese investors in Ukraine consisting of two parts: guarantees for Japanese investors, as well as a credit line for the export of Japanese goods for the implementation of Ukraine's reconstruction projects. The Ukrainian News Agency earlier reported that Ukraine's reconstruction needs already amount to almost USD 486 billion.

ECAs pile in on European battery gigafactories facility

(Global Trade Review, London, 14 February 2024) Three export credit agencies have thrown their support behind a €4.4bn debt raising for a company building lithium battery gigafactories across Europe, the latest in a string of deals intended to beef up the continent’s renewable energy supply chains. France-based Automotive Cells Company (ACC) says Italian export credit agency (ECA) Sace, Germany’s Euler Hermes and France’s bpifrance have all agreed to support financing provided by a pool of commercial lenders.


Africa’s debt dilemma: The role of ECAs and new strategies

(Trade Finance Global, London, 15 February 2024) The African economy has suffered three major shocks in quick succession, namely, the COVID-19 pandemic, spillovers from geopolitical tensions and supply chain disruptions. This, coupled with widening fiscal deficits, exchange rate volatility and natural disasters have eroded the fiscal space of African economies and increased debt levels. The rising debt in Africa and the high risk of sovereign default hampers the activities of export credit agencies (ECAs) on the continent. However, this challenge has also presented opportunities for flexibility, for example, cover for down payments, higher percentages of cover for both political and commercial risks, as well as longer tenors. The continent facing debt issues, continues to be a major playing field for Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC SA), with Ghana accounting for 51.4% of total exposure, followed by Zimbabwe and Ethiopia at 23.0% and 7.7%, respectively. From an industry viewpoint, the ECIC portfolio has shifted away from its traditional mining focus. Currently, power generation leads as the top sector, accounting for 45.8% of total exposure, with construction following closely at 40%.


SACE plans to back $1.6 billion in debt to Saudi Arabia

(Reuters, Dubai, 12 February 2024)  Italy’s export credit agency SACE plans to back $1.6 billion in loans to Saudi Arabia over the next 12 to 18 months, the agency’s chief told Reuters, potentially boosting the country's search for outside investment at a time of weak oil prices. Saudi Arabia last month sent requests for proposals to banks for the refinancing of a $10 billion syndicated loan, new bond issuance, and for ECA-backed funding. Saudi Arabia’s national oil giant, Aramco, has also been tapping this form of financing. The company is looking to raise billions of dollars in ECA-backed loans involving agencies across the globe ahead of its planned stock market listing, sources told Reuters last month. SACE, which is meeting prospective clients in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia this week, is evaluating projects in the Middle East and North Africa worth about $15 billion, $5 billion of which in the United Arab Emirates.


The real effects of trade financing by ECAs

(Centre for Econonic Policy Research, London, 9 February 2024) Trade finance subsidies, usually provided by export credit agencies, are the predominant tool of industrial policy. This column discusses the effect of the effective shutdown of the US EXIM from 2015—2019 on firm outcomes. It finds that firms which previously relied on EXIM support saw a 18% drop in sales after the agency closed, driven by a reduction in exports. Firms affected by the shutdown also laid off employees and curtailed investment. Overall, export credit subsidies can boost exports even in countries with well-developed financial markets, without necessarily leading to a misallocation of resources. Exports are often seen as boosting economic growth. But exporting internationally requires upfront financing. Recognising this, around one hundred countries around the world have set up export credit agencies to provide subsidised trade financing to support their country’s exporters. Today, such subsidies are the predominant tool of industrial policy around the world, especially in advanced economies. In absolute terms, China, Germany, Korea, and the US spend the most on these programmes. The Scandinavian countries, as well as China and Korea, are among the heaviest users of export credit agency support relative to their exports as we show in panel B of Figure 1. To better understand the role of export credit agencies, we study the temporary shutdown of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) between 2015 and 2019, prompted by a lapse in its charter—a first since the agency's inception in 1945 – and lack of quorum on its board of directors. The shutdown resulted in an 80% drop in the volume of EXIM-supported transactions in 2016 compared to 2014. The volume of export credit support provided by EXIM only returned to pre-shutdown levels after the resumption of full operations in December 2019.


Financing uncertainty clouds South Korean ECA push for massive arms deals

(Reuters, London, 8 February 2024) Legislation aimed at increasing South Korea's import-export lending to support huge new defence sales has stalled amid partisan deadlock ahead of a divisive parliamentary election, officials and analysts said. South Korea's ruling and opposition parties have both introduced bills to boost the state bank's equity capital to 25 trillion-35 trillion won ($19 billion-$26 billion), raising the lending limit to 10 trillion-14 trillion won, as the country seeks to expedite Poland's $22 billion weapons purchase. The sale is a key part of South Korea's plan to become the world's fourth-largest defence exporter by 2027. But under current law, the Export-Import Bank of Korea cannot lend more than 40% of its roughly 15 trillion won of equity capital, or about 6 trillion won, to a single borrower. The state bank already provided about 6 trillion won in credit during the first phase of the deal with Poland, South Korea's biggest-ever weapons sale. If there is no credit line to finance procurement from South Korea it could put the unsigned procurement of 308 K9 howitzers and 820 K2 Black Panther tanks in jeopardy,


Tanzania's Precision Air Faces Legal Action Over $26 Million ATR 42 Debt to EDC

(Simple Flying, London, 10 February) Tanzania-based regional carrier Precision Air is in a legal battle with Canadia's Export Development Canada (EDC) for an aircraft financing agreement involving two ATR 42-600s acquired over ten years ago. EDC is claiming about $26 million in unpaid rentals and termination fees. The financial agreement between the two parties dates back to 2012, when EDC provided financial assistance to Precision Air to acquire two ATR 42-600s as part of its fleet expansion plan. The agreement involved Irish aircraft leasing firm Antelope Leasing Finance, which acted as the debtor and held the turboprops as collateral on EDC's behalf.


India directs ECGC to maintain moratorium on insurance rates for exporters

(India Times, Gurugram Haryana, 7 February 2024) The Indian government on Wednesday said it has directed the Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) to maintain a moratorium on insurance rates for Indian exporters in the wake of the Red Sea crisis. State-owned ECGC is an export promotion organisation, seeking to improve the competitiveness of Indian exports by providing them with credit insurance covers. Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel said that the ECGC continues to provide insurance coverage to exporters. She said that the corporation has not refused cover for export shipments routed through the Red Sea and the credit risk cover is being provided based on the risk assessment and creditworthiness of overseas buyers and terms of payment.


What's New for January 2024

"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

See all "What's New!" updates since 2005 here

  • Biden Administration Faces Pushback on Another Gas Project, This Time Overseas
  • JBIC financing for two gas power projects in Mexico would violate the G7 agreement
  • Amid Corruption Charges, Groups Demand EXIM Halt Payments to Trafigur
  • ECAs support €1.08 billion green loans for Cadeler
  • UKEF underwrites financing for another section of Turkish high speed rail network
  • Red Sea crisis: Indian shipping costs and times and export credit premiums up
  • Brodies Guides On War Risk Insurance For Ukrainian Exports
  • H2 Green Steel Boden: Complex financing includes Euler Hermes
  • Swedish “Green” Steel Plant Secures $7 Billion in Financing
  • Northvolt gets $5bn green loan for European EV push
  • Petroperú Desperate for Cash Loses $500M SACE Loan Guarantee
  • How to Deal with Sinosure as an Importer
  • European Union readies €300mn ECA pilot
  • UKEF: Taxpayers underwrite French contractor’s Saudi project
  • African tri-nation transport project to start Phase II
  • Belgian ECA Credendo helps expansion of Montevideo Port to Boost Uruguay's Foreign Trade
  • FLASH: US Exim readies for US$2bn domestic financing boom

Biden Administration Faces Pushback on Another Gas Project, This Time Overseas

(New York Times, New York, 26 January 2024) Even as the Biden administration, under pressure from environmentalists, hits pause on its approval of a major natural gas export terminal in the United States, it faces another big gas decision overseas. A $13 billion natural gas export project in Papua New Guinea led by TotalEnergies and Exxon Mobil is on a shortlist of projects set to receive financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, or Ex-Im, which supports American businesses around the world.The Papua LNG gas project would join a portfolio of oil and gas projects the bank funds, including an oil refinery in Indonesia and an oil tank project in the Bahamas. The bank is also considering financing an offshore pipeline and natural gas plants in Guyana. Some climate activists see a big contradiction between climate actions the government is taking in the United States versus around the world. “He’s done so much at home,” said Friends of the Earth's Kate DeAngeli, but he “can’t claim to be a climate champion when the U.S. is propping up this fossil fuel infrastructure all over the world.”


JBIC financing for two gas power projects in Mexico would violate the G7 agreement

(JACSES, Tokyo, 30 January 2024) The Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society notes that two gas-fired combined cycle power projects in Mexico are now under consideration for financing by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). One is in San Luis Potosi and the other one in Salamanca. When Japanese NGOs asked the consistency of these two projects with the agreement reached at G7 Elmau Summit to end new public financing for fossil fuel energy, JBIC did not provide specific rationale on its judgment that the policy of the Mexican government is consistent with the 1.5 degree target. If JBIC provides support, it is highly likely that it constitutes a violation of the G7 agreement, thus JBIC should stop consideration for financing. JBIC placed these two projects on its list of projects under consideration for financing on November 2, 2023.


Amid Corruption Charges, Groups Demand EXIM Halt Payments to Trafigura

(Friends of the Earth, Washington, 23 January 2024) Civil society and environmental groups today requested that the US Export-Import Bank withdraw funding from the Trafigura Group, a major global commodity trader. In December, Bloomberg reported that Trafigura was charged with corruption and bribing elected officials in Angola. In an open letter to EXIM, asking the bank to halt its payment of $400 million to Trafigura, a financing agreement that was approved in July 2023. This letter questions EXIM’s due process in analyzing funding recipients and its method of reconsideration when corruption is revealed. This comes on the heels of both the United States and Swiss governments launching investigations into the company’s affairs. Despite this, EXIM last year gave Trafigura the massive financing of $400 million to purchase liquefied natural gas, a decision the groups charge was made based on flawed environmental damage assessments. EXIM is soon expected to approve $660 million for the Gas to Energy Project in Guyana, despite similar concerns from activists. In 2023 the institution funded nearly $1 billion for overseas oil and gas development, violating President Biden’s 2021 Executive Order.


ECAs support €1.08 billion green loans for Cadeler

(The Asset, Hong Kong, 3 January 2024) Oslo-listed offshore wind turbine installation company Cadeler has raised €1.075 billion (US$1.19 billion) via two syndicated green financing facilities with backing from export credit agencies (ECAs). The revolving facilities will be used to refinance Cadeler and Eneti’s existing debt, as well as finance merger-related costs. Ancillary lines have been set up to support the project-related letter of credit (LC) needs of the company, and term facilities will finance the upgrade of cranes on two of Cadeler’s O-Class offshore installation vessels. The financing for the crane upgrades has ECA backing from the Export and Investment Fund of Denmark (Eifo). A facility amounting to €425 million, which is backed by the China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure), will be used to finance the acquisition of two new X-Class wind turbine installation vessels currently under construction in China.


UKEF underwrites financing for another section of Turkish high speed rail network

(Railway Gazette, Sutton, 22 January 2024) The UK government’s export credit agency UKEF has agreed to underwrite a €1·03bn loan arranged by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group for three Turkish companies to construct Turkey’s 140 km long Yerköy – Kayseri route modernisation scheme. UKEF has partnered with export credit agencies from Italy (SACE), which reinsured €249m of the guarantee, Poland’s KUKE, which reinsured €205m, and Austria’s OeKB (€176m). A separate €220m commercial loan from the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment & Export Credit makes the total financing package worth €1·2bn. [This is the third Turkish high-speed railway to be backed by UK Export Finance and its counterparts in Italy, Poland, and Austria. Combined, the projects amount to some 900km of rail. The two others are the Ankara-Izmir and the Mersin-Gaziantep lines.]


Red Sea crisis: Indian shipping costs and times and export credit premiums up

(Financial Express, Noida, 18 January 2024) An Indian inter-ministerial meeting on Red Sea crisis on Wednesday has asked the Department of Financial Services (DFS) in the finance ministry to monitor the credit requirements of exporters and ensure that credit flows to them are maintained, a senior official said Wednesday. Different reports have said the conflict in the Red Sea is leading to increased shipping costs by 40-60%, insurance premiums by 15-20% and delays of up to 20 days due to rerouting of some ships away from Suez Canal. The cost and turnaround time of shipments have increased as two shipping lines including Maersk have stopped services but volume is not affected, the official said.He said so far there has just been time and cost impact, nothing else. In the rapidly escalating situation in the region the shipping rates on some routes have gone up by six times. Exporters fear that the impact could come in a big way if the situation does not normalise. The government may have to look at alternate routes. On its part the ministry of commerce has asked Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) not to increase the premium on credit insurance and other related services.The insurance covers enable the banks to extend timely and adequate export credit facilities to the exporters. [Around 80% of India’s merchandise trade with Europe passes through the Red Sea and substantial trade with the US also takes this route. Both geographies account for 34% of India’s total exports. The Red Sea strait is vital for 30% of global container traffic and 12% of world trade.]


Brodies Guides On War Risk Insurance For Ukrainian Exports

(USA Herald, New York, 12 January 2024) In a groundbreaking move, Scottish law firm Brodies LLP has steered Ukraine’s Export Credit Agency through uncharted territory, unveiling a novel war risk insurance process to safeguard shipowners and vessel charterers amidst the ongoing conflict with Russia. In a daring legal maneuver, Brodies LLP has strategically advised Ukraine’s Export Credit Agency, paving the way for a groundbreaking war risk insurance process. The initiative aims to fortify shipowners and vessel charterers, allowing uninterrupted goods shipments across the tumultuous Black Sea during the persisting conflict with Russia. Brodies unveiled the revolutionary insurance arrangement, orchestrating a financial ballet that channels funds to accounts at two Ukrainian state banks, Ukrgasbank and Ukreximbank. These financial powerhouses are then empowered to issue irrevocable letters of credit, each confirmed and guaranteed by Germany’s DZ Bank AG.


H2 Green Steel Boden: Complex financing includes Euler Hermes

(TXF News, London, 23 January) H2 Green Steel (H2GS) – the world’s second green hydrogen mega project – has taken a similar approach to Neom for its hydrogen-powered steel manufacturing project in Boden, Sweden. The simple math – 1% overall cost increase for 40% emissions decrease on the final manufactured product – has enabled H2GS to get a long list of very solid credits signed up to term sheets or steel supply agreements. The multi-sourced debt facilities backing the €6 billion-plus project was signed on 21 December 2023 and are expected to reach financial close in Q1. The overall financing for H2GS comprises €4.15 billion of senior and junior debt... and debt facilities for the project comprised of two €1.2 billion 12.75-year tranches with 95% and 80% cover provided by Euler Hermes and Riksgalden (Swedish National debt Office) respectively, a €200 million 12.75-year direct loan from the EIB, a €250 million 12.75-year term loan, a €300 million 12.75-year revolving credit and a €400 million 12.75-year contingency tranche.


Swedish “Green” Steel Plant Secures $7 Billion in Financing

(Thomasnet, New York, 29 January 2024) The developer of the world’s first large-scale plant that will manufacture “green” steel has now secured some $7 billion in financing for the project to date, company officials announced. More than 20 lenders signed onto the debt financing, including the European Investment Bank, the Swedish Export Credit Corp., and numerous commercial banks. The new equity funding, meanwhile, came from the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund and Siemens Financial Services, among others. H2 Green Steel recently disclosed new debt financing agreements worth $4.6 billion and said that its equity funding had increased by $325 million — up to $2.3 billion. It has also received a grant from a European Union energy innovation initiative worth about $270 million. H2, founded in Stockholm in 2020, aims to replace the use of fossil fuels in heavy industry with hydrogen fuel produced with renewable electricity, thereby slashing greenhouse gas emissions. The company says its steelmaking process reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 95% compared to conventional steel production, which uses blast furnaces fired by coke, a coal-based fuel.


Northvolt gets $5bn green loan for European EV push

Northvolt AB, the Swedish battery maker that counts BMW, Volvo Car and Volkswagen among its clients, has secured a $5 billion (€4.59 billion) green loan to bolster production and expand recycling efforts. The package backed by the Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank is among the largest green loans on record. Northvolt is central for European efforts to establish an electric-vehicle supply chain that can rival Asia and the US. The company plans to use the money to expand production at its main Swedish factory in Skelleftea and grow an adjacent recycling plant. It’s funding is guaranteed by export credit agencies and provided by 23 commercial banks in addition to the Nordic Investment Bank and the European Investment Bank, which is lending slightly over $1 billion (€942.6 million). A significant portion of the loan is covered with certain guarantees combined with direct funding from the Swedish National Debt Office, Euler Hermes, the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Japan’s Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, or NEXI, and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation.


Petroperú Desperate for Cash Loses $500M SACE Loan Guarantee

(Amazon Watch, Oakland, 25 January 2024) In 2023, the Peruvian state-owned oil company, Petroperú, faced one of its worst financial crises, due to its accumulation of up to $6.5 billion in debt for its Talara Refinery Project, which will likely serve as a major driver of oil exploration and exploitation in Indigenous territories of the Amazon and in ancestral fishing grounds in the north Peruvian coast. Due to successful community opposition against oil activities, Petroperú was unable to secure a $500 million loan guarantee in 2023 from Italy’s export credit agency (SACE) partly due to intense scrutiny from Indigenous nations and strong backlash against Petroperú in Italy. The world’s largest fossil fuel financiers, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, are considering supporting the company again by arranging or underwriting Petroperú’s $1 billion bond issuance. This is despite ongoing demands by a united front of multiple Indigenous nations of the Peruvian Amazon for international financiers to halt new financing for Petroperú.


How to Deal with Sinosure as an Importer

(Global Trading Magazine, Dallas, 8 January 2024) An in-depth guide on handling the Sinosure export credit insurance services and getting deferred payments for your imports from Chinese suppliers. Payment terms in contracts with Chinese suppliers can require as much as 30% of the total up front as a hedge against the importer’s nonpayment, also known as its credit risk. The remainder of the payment is usually due before the Chinese exporter ships the goods. Sinosure, the China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation, is an official financial institution designed to help in cases like that. It provides export credit insurance to companies in China seeking to do business with foreign buyers without having to bear the risk of nonpayment. While Sinosure’s clients are the exporting Chinese companies, its business benefits importers outside of China by eliminating cash flow issues and extended delivery times. With this insurance safeguard, suppliers are more willing to extend deferred payment terms and trade turnover with their foreign partners, to the mutual benefit of both parties. In the year 2022, Sinosure ensured export credit worth more than $700 billion for approximately 240,000 Chinese exporters. This compares with only $2.61 billion insured that year by US Exim. Sinosure insures so much more because it is a key part of the country’s export drive, and it maintains a large sales and customer service network throughout China, whereas US Exim generally focuses on a few large-scale industries like airplanes, power generation, and infrastructure.


European Union readies €300mn ECA pilot

(Global Trade Review, London, 17 January 2024) The European Union is advancing plans to launch its inaugural risk-sharing instrument for the export credit sector, with a pilot initiative aimed at boosting SME exports to war-torn Ukraine. The European Commission is developing the scheme alongside the EU’s SME financing arm, the European Investment Fund (EIF), which is expected to guarantee export credit deals involving Ukrainian buyers. It will be the first EU-level risk-sharing instrument provided to the export credit sector, the European Commission says, and highlights how Brussels is increasingly seeking to wield the might of export credit agencies (ECAs) from its 27-member states to advance policy goals, such as green energy, overseas investment and competing with China and the US. Austria’s ECA OeKB, Finnvera, the European Investment Fund, Atradius DSB, Denmark's EIFO and Poland’s ECA Kuke are studying participation.


UKEF: Taxpayers underwrite French contractor’s Saudi project

(Construction Index, London, 5 January 2024) The UK’s export credit agency has guaranteed an Islamic Murabaha financing facility for the development of Six Flags Qiddiya City near Riyadh. UK Export Finance (UKEF) has guaranteed an Islamic Murabaha financing facility for £550m signed by Qiddiya Investment Company to finance the construction of the theme park. This is being undertaken by a joint venture led by Bouygues Bâtiment International of France and local firm Almabani General Contractors. UK Export Finance chief executive Tim Reid said: “Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ is hugely ambitious, and UKEF is determined to ensure that British businesses can benefit from the enormous exporting opportunities it offers.


African tri-nation transport project to start Phase II

(Southern Africa Freight News, Johannesburg, 15 January) The African Development Bank-financed Tanzania-Burundi-DR Congo Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Project has commenced to Phase 2. The bank's financing is intended to construct 651 kilometres on the Tanzania-Burundi railway line. The bank will provide $98.62 million to Burundi in the form of grants and $597.79m to Tanzania in loans and guarantees. As the Initial Mandate Lead Arranger, the bank will structure and mobilise financing of up to $3.2 billion from commercial banks, development financial institutions, export credit agencies and institutional investors. The total cost of the project both in Tanzania and Burundi is estimated at nearly $3.93bn. The construction of this railway will allow Burundi to intensify the exploitation of nickel, of which the country has the tenth-largest deposit in the world in the Musongati mining fields. The country also has resources such as lithium and cobalt,


Belgian ECA Credendo helps expansion of Montevideo Port to Boost Uruguay's Foreign Trade

(BNAmericas, Santiago, 10 January 2024) IDB Invest will provide $103 million in financing to Terminal Cuenca del Plata S.A. (TCP), including the mobilization of resources for $46 million from Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A. (BBVA) for the design, construction and operation of the expansion of the Port of Montevideo. Additionally, IDB Invest financing will be complemented by a financing facility given to commercial banks by Belgium's export credit agency, Credendo, for a total amount of approximately $340 million.


FLASH: US Exim readies for US$2bn domestic financing boom

(Global Trade Review, 31 January 2024) The Export-Import Bank of the United States (US Exim) is anticipating a “significant” rise in domestic financing activity in the coming year as it works to rejig its offering and grow investment in key sectors such as semiconductors, critical minerals and renewable energy.  US Exim first launched the Make More in America (MMIA) programme nearly two years ago, following a 100-day review of critical supply chains.  Deals to-date for some $350m are dwarfed by the financing extended by rival export credit agencies under their equivalent programmes, such as the UK’s, which since releasing its export development guarantee in 2020 has rolled out billions of dollars in support to large corporates such as Ford and Jaguar Land Rover.  “The MMIA initiative is going to be a boon for American manufacturers and American manufacturing. We have US$2bn in the pipeline,” said US Exim’s first vice-president and vice-chair of its board, Judith Pryor, while noting deals are split across a range of industries, such as energy efficiency, battery storage, satellites and critical minerals.