Index for April 2018

Volume 17, Issue 4

  • (Above Ground, Ottawa, 30 April 2018) In this report, ECA Watch member Above Ground examines reforms needed to raise Export Development Canada’s anti-corruption client screening to a more robust standard. The recommendations are informed by leading anti-corruption policies and guidance documents from other export credit agencies, international financial organizations and the private sector. A Bombardier jet, the subject of an EDC loan to South Africa's Gupta family amid multiple corruption claims, has reportedly returned to South Africa, although Gupta familiy members have still effectively disappeared. Since 2016 the British, French and German export credit agencies have blocked support for Airbus on the basis of bribery concerns. The Above Ground report notes that in the second half of 2017, EDC provided Airbus with between $750 million and $1.5 billion in financing, as well as citing examples of questionable support for SNC-Lavalin and Kinross Gold. Canada's Auditor General today released a hard hitting report noting that EDC is mishandling loan risks and keeping board members in the dark about key financing arrangements.

  • (Jubilee Australia, Sydney, 29 April 2018) A new report on the economy of Papua New Guinea will reopen the case for the Australian government to be held accountable for the negligent decision to lend AU$500 million (US$376.5 million) of taxpayers' money to the PNG-LNG project. Jubilee Australia’s new report,‘Double or Nothing: The Broken Economic Promises of PNG LNG’, notes that “In 2008 Australian economics consultants, ACIL-Tasman provided inflated projections of growth in employment, essential services, household income and the broader economy if the PNG LNG project went ahead. This new analysis proves just how misleading these promises were and how PNG has slipped back into the poor policies associated with the resource curse. Currently, on almost all economic indicators, the people of PNG would have been better off had the project not happened at all." An Australian Broadcasting Corporation business report notes that the immense benefits predicted to flow from Papua New Guinea's liquified natural gas project have not been realised, and the country's economy has even gone backwards on some indicators.

  • (EURACTV, Brussels, 6 April 201) It used to be a Eurosceptic fantasy for the Commonwealth to replace the EU as the UK’s main trading partner. That may still be a fantasy, but Theresa May’s government sees the organisation, which includes Australia, Canada, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Singapore, as a launch pad for negotiating bilateral trade agreements and has earmarked six Commonwealth members as priorities for renewed incentives to promote trade and investment. Britain has already promised to double the current export credit finance for trade and investment with South Africa to £3.5 billion. South Africa is critical of the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with African regional blocs and expects Britain, once outside the EU, to offer better terms. In economic terms the Commonwealth is a fraction of the size of the EU market. Forty-two percent of the UK’s exports went to the EU in 2017, compared to around 7% for the ten largest Commonwealth markets.

  • (London Review of Books, London, 26 April 2018) Arms exports constitute around 1.6% of total UK exports in value but receive 50% of export credits in the form of loans or guarantees, underwritten by the taxpayer. Almost half of British arms exports go to Saudi Arabia, up fivefold since the kingdom intervened in Yemen’s civil war. In July 2014, in an effort to pre-empt embarrassing revelations that might emerge from the UN’s decommissioning of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, the British foreign secretary made a tactical confession. Between 1983 and 1986, Britain had approved sales of chemical weapons precursors to Syria, which was known to be developing a massive weapons programme. William Hague told Parliament that the chemicals were probably ‘used by Syria in their programmes to produce nerve agents, including sarin’. In March 2015, the Committees on Arms Export Controls said that ‘the decision of the present government to give two export licence approvals for dual-use chemicals to Syria in January 2012 after the civil war had started in Syria in 2011 was irresponsible.’

  • (Defence Connect, Sydney, 18 April 2018) The much-awaited Defence Industrial Capability Plan is set to be released soon, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has confirmed. The plan, which will aim to give Australian businesses a better idea of how to capitalise on the $200 billion of investment going into the industry, is set to be released before the federal budget on 8 May this year. The soon-to-be-released plan includes a new Australian Defence Export Office, Australia's first Defence Export Advocate, a $3.8 billion Defence Export Facility to be administered by Australia's export credit agency Efic and a $20 million a year commitment to implement the strategy.

  • (PanARMENIAN.Net, Yerevan, 29 March 2018) Russia will begin supplying arms to Armenia under a new defense loan agreement worth $100 million in 2018. In June 2015, an agreement was signed to provide Armenia with a Russian state export credit worth $200 million to purchase Russian-made military products. 18 contracts were signed within the framework of the loan, Armenia’s defense ministry reportedly said.

  • (Observer Research Foundation Online, New Delhi, 19 April 2018) The role of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) in promoting climate compatible development has been controversial. Despite independent and collaborative efforts from countries ensuring that [environmental degradation] is not an option when their ECAs extend support, fossil fuel financing has overshadowed ECAs energy financing portfolio. Oil Change reports that 88 percent of G20 ECA energy financing went towards fossil fuels. One of the worst performer amongst ECAs of G20 countries is the US EXIM Bank. Anecdotal evidences suggest that [ExIm's] support has enabled American exporters to walk the globe leaving behind green footprints. Yet an inquiry in our paper on the EXIM Bank’s authorisation portfolio paints a relatively different picture. [ExIm] authorisations towards environmentally beneficial exports and renewable energy exports constituted only 1.83% and 0.98% respectively of the Bank’s total authorisation. Evidently, the Bank’s performance has been dismal at best.

  • (Straits Times, Singaport, 18 April 2018) DBS and OCBC are among a group of banks and lending agencies that have signed off on financing of about US$1.87 billion (S$2.45 billion) for a controversial coal-fired power station in Vietnam. The 1,200MW Nghi Son 2 power station in Tinh Gia district, Thanh Hoa province, is one of a number of large coal-fired power plants planned to meet Vietnam's energy needs. But green groups, the International Energy Agency and the World Bank fear such big coal projects will exacerbate climate change by locking in years of polluting emissions. Burning coal is a major source of local air pollution and carbon emissions blamed for heating up the planet. The loan was signed last Friday (April 13) with export credit agencies Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Export-Import Bank of Korea (Kexim); Japanese banks Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, MUFG, Mizuho and Shinsei Bank; DBS and OCBC; and Maybank of Malaysia. US Ex Im turned down funding in February 2018.

  • (New Times, Rwanda, 29 April 2018) Preparations for the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that will take place in September in South Africa are in high gear officials have said. In the 2015 summit, China pledged a new round of funding support to Africa’s development, worth $60 billion. The $60 billion pot was divided into $5 billion of free aid and interest-free loans, $35 billion of preferential loans and export credit and $5 billion dollars of additional capital for the China-Africa Development Fund and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs, and $10 billion of funding for a China-Africa production capacity cooperation. “Our investments in Africa exceeded 100 billion US Dollars and Chinese enterprises in Africa exceeded more than 3000; and over 70 percent of these are private Chinese companies,” said Dai Bing, the Director General of the Department of African affairs in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • (Financial Express, New Delhi, 5 April 2018) The CBI today said it had registered a criminal case against a Vadodara-based company dealing in electric cable and equipment and its directors for allegedly cheating various banks to the tune of Rs 2,654 crore (US$400 million). The company and its directors managed to get the term loans and credit facilities in spite of the fact that they were named in the Reserve Bank of India’s defaulters list and ECGC (Export Credit Guarantee Corporation) caution list at the time of the initial sanction of credit limits by the consortium, the agency alleged.

  • (Guardian, London, 23 March 2018) The EU is looking to provide European companies trading with Iran access to emergency credit lines and funding support if Donald Trump presses ahead with his plan to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. A US pullout, leading to the reimposition of a tough sanctions regime, would expose multinational firms trading with Iran to potentially devastating loss of financial support by commercial banks. The US is due to make a decision on 12 May, and it has the potential to pitch Europe and the US into dispute.

  • (Financial Times, London, 28 April 2018) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has brought forward by a year and a half elections he intends will crown his quest for one-man rule in Turkey. One reason for the snap early election is that Turkey’s overheating economy is vulnerable. The president needs to provide jobs and services to his base. Despite his xenophobic tub-thumping and absolute intolerance of dissent, Mr Erdogan does respond to pressure and has released some journalists. The German government, although courting Ankara’s help in holding back the flood of Syrian refugees, lost patience with what it saw as hostage-taking. It ordered a travel advisory steering German tourists away from Turkey, a review of export credit guarantees for German companies trading with Turkey, and a freeze on defence contracts.

  • (Maritime Executive, Fort Lauderdale, 25 April 2018) The German bank KfW IPEX-Bank has become the first German bank to join the Responsible Ship Recycling Standards initiative. With a lending volume of EUR 13.9 billion ($17 billion) in 2017, KfW IPEX-Bank is one of the top five ship financiers in the world, and, by joining the initiative, highlights that it is setting high standards for the environmental and social compatibility of its financing. At the end of May 2017, ABN Amro, ING and NIBC established the Responsible Ship Recycling Standards. The initiative now has eight members worldwide, with Nordea, DNB, SEB and Export Credit Norway having joined the three founding banks.

  • (Reuters, Paris, 27 April 2018) Airbus has received European export credits for the first time since public funding was suspended in 2016 at the outset of a corruption investigation, the company said on Friday. The credit was granted under enhanced compliance procedures agreed between Airbus and the UK, French and German export credit agencies after the company’s own discovery of misleading applications for the aid triggered the Anglo-French probe.

  • (UzDaily, Tashkent, 20 April 201) Uzbekistan plans to sign an agreement with Russia on construction of a nuclear power plant in 2018. Currently, Rosatom is building a similar station in Bangladesh at a cost estimated at about US$13 billion, of which US$11.3 billion is provided by Russia as a state export credit.