Index for June 2018

Volume 17, Issue 6

  • (ECA Watch, Amsterdam, 28 June, 2018) ECA-watch applauds the European Ombudsman’s ruling on maladministration of the European Commission in checking compliance of European Export Credit Agencies with EU law In a landmark ruling1, the European Ombudsman has found that the European Commission failed to fulfil its legal obligation to assess the compliance of EU-based official Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) with EU laws and human rights obligations. The Ombudsman has recommended that changes be introduced to the EC’s reporting procedures. If implemented, the ruling could mean that EU-based ECAs – national bodies that give financial support to companies doing business overseas, including in ‘risky’ markets – are to be named and shamed where their activities fail to meet EU human rights and environmental obligations.

  • (Reuters, Ankara/Baghdad, 7 June 2018) Turkey has temporarily stopped filling a huge dam on the Tigris River after complaints from neighboring Iraq, which is suffering water shortages, officials said on Thursday. Turkey's ambassador to Baghdad and Iraq's water minister also said that the two countries had agreed that when Ankara resumes filling the Ilisu dam in July it will still allow sufficient water to flow into Iraq. The dam, more than 20 years in the making, will generate electricity for a large area of southeast Turkey. But it has been heavily criticized over its impact on the environment and on the tens of thousands of villagers who will be displaced. Its waters will also submerge a 12,000-year-old town.

  • (AfricaNews/Reuters, Maputo, 12 June 2018) The U.S. embassy in Mozambique said Americans should consider leaving a northeastern district close to a major gas field as imminent attacks are likely after suspected Islamist militants beheaded 10 people and killed seven others since May. Anadarko Petroleum is seeking to raise a record $14-15 billion from banks and export credit agencies for its huge liquefied natural gas (LNG) project there, sources close to the matter said in May. The company declined to comment on reports it had suspended work on its massive LNG project in the war-scarred southeastern African country. Environmental NGOs and Mozambicans have raised serious concerns about multiple negative impacts of this project. French bank Societe Generale, the financial adviser on the $20 billion Mozambique LNG project, has already received interest for a combined $12 billion in cover and direct lending from export credit agencies (ECAs) in China, South Africa, Italy and Japan.

  • (The Hill, Washington, 20 June 201) President Trump on Wednesday nominated Kimberly Reed to lead the Export-Import Bank, taking a step toward getting the agency running back at full lending strength. The 84-year-old bank has been in financial limbo over the past three years, short of enough members on its board of directors to make loans above $10 million. During her November confirmation hearing, Reed said that she looked "forward to bringing two decades of bipartisan experience to my work at the Bank, which has more than 400 dedicated career professionals." A Wall Street Journal commentator noted that "By turning to Ms. Reed, a former Treasury Department staffer during the George W. Bush administration, the White House is backing a nominee for the bank who thinks the Ex-Im Bank’s role is essential for the U.S. to counter foreign governments that operate their own export-finance agencies. At her nomination hearing late last year for a less-senior post at the bank, she said not having a functional export-finance agency amounted to “unilateral disarmament.”

  • (Wall Street Journal, Washington, 6 JUne 2018) Senior European officials conceded in a letter to the Trump administration that their efforts to save the Iranian nuclear accord by maintaining major trade, investment and export credits with Tehran are buckling in the face of planned U.S. sanctions. European countries have vowed to keep commerce with Iran flowing in order to persuade Tehran to remain in the accord and restrict its nuclear activity. An effort to persuade central banks to make one-off payments to Iran to pay for future oil imports has so far borne little fruit, officials say. The EU is still working on giving Iran fuller access to European Investment Bank loans. Officials are also considering extending credit lines, like the €5 billion ($5.85 billion) program set up by the Italian government, or providing export credit guarantees to companies. However, even these programs could be vulnerable to U.S. sanctions.

  • (Financial Tribune, Tehran, 17 June 2018) The German government has set up a special office to advise companies worried about their business dealings with Iran amid fears they will be targeted for US sanctions. The European signatories to a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran—Germany, France and Britain—have vowed to keep the deal alive after US President Donald Trump withdrew from it last month. Germany’s Economy Ministry said on Friday it has established an “Iran contact point” for companies to pose their questions by email.  The ministry stressed that European sanctions relief for Iran, one of the terms of the nuclear agreement, remain in place, and that government-backed export credit guarantees are still available, AP reported.

  • (Express, London, 9 June 2018) Trade Secretary Liam Fox has announced the UK has secured a £1.5 billion trade deal and signed off £75 million in other trade agreements in a major boost for the UK economy after Brexit. Dr Fox is expected to release a new Export Strategy which will set out the Government’s plan to get businesses of all sizes exporting their products to boost the economy after Brexit. The lucrative trade deals come as Britain’s exit from the EU looms. Dr Fox announced today a deal worth more than £1.5 billion had been secured by a UK company to deliver natural gas project in Cameroon. Additional deals have also be secured in Panama, Turkey, India and Qatar worth £75 million for British businesses. Capitalising on recent foreign visits by Cameroon’s Minister Secretary General, the Presidents of Panama and Turkey and the Prime Minister of India, UK businesses have been exploring exporting opportunities with some of the fastest-growing economies.

  • (Bridging & Commercial, London, 21 June 2018) UK Export Finance (UKEF) has revealed that it helped UK exporters – 77% of which were smaller businesses – secure sales to over 75 countries during the financial year 2017/18. In its annual report and accounts, the UK’s export credit agency reported that it provided £2.5bn in support for UK exports during the same period. It also stated that since 2011, it had supported £4.1bn in export contracts through its trade finance products, which were introduced to give smaller businesses an exporting edge. The annual report and accounts are availalable here.

  • (African Independent, Cape Town, 27 June 2018) The African Export-Import Bank and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa have launched a  $1 billion trade and investment programme expected to boost business between South Africa and the rest of the continent. The programme will help address the need for African countries to work closely together in addressing the challenges of fragmented markets, under-developed production structures and inadequate economic diversification, the deputy director general of trade at the department of trade and investment Lerato Mataboge said at the launch on Tuesday. "Our aim as a government is to increase the levels of South African investments in the rest of the continent through targeted support measures," Mataboge said. "We have targeted $100 billion of investments to be reached in the next five years and we want to ensure a sizable amount of investments into South Africa that are of African origin."

  • (Energy Reporters, Istanbul, 20 June 2018) Russian state-run gas monopoly Gazprom has committed to invest US$1.2 billion in exploration and production at the Vitiacua onshore field in southern Bolivia.  “This contract will mean an investment by Gazprom of US$1.2 billion, the drilling of two exploratory wells, six development wells, adding a total of eight wells, with a maximum production of 400 million cubic feet in coming years,” Bolivia’s state-owned oil and gas company YPFB chief executive Oscar Barriga said. The Viticua block in the Chaco oil and gas basin has potential reserves of 2.17 trillion cubic feet, Barriga told the media. The Russian agency for export credit and investment insurance, Exiar, and Bolivia’s energy ministry signed a deal to secure financing for supplies of gas-fuelled machinery and equipment produced in Russia. Around 20,000 Russian public transport vehicles will be shipped to Bolivia as part of the Bolivian government’s efforts to boost natural gas as a transport fuel instead of oil.

  • (Vestnik Kavkaza, Tashkent?, 4 June 018) Uzbekistan will be the first country in Central Asia to have a nuclear power plant. Rosatom proposes to build a station consisting of two modern VVER-1200 units of 3+ generation. A similar project is being implemented by Rosatom in Bangladesh. It is estimated at about $13 billion, of which $11.3 billion provided by Russia as a state export credit. The cost of the Belarus NPP was $10 billion. The cost of the Uzbek nuclear power plant is unknown yet. Expert Kubat Rakhimov believes that the Uzbek nuclear power plant will be more expensive, since it will be difficult to solve the issue of a cooling system in Navoiy without sufficient quantity of running water and / or large water bodies. Russia is ready to offer Uzbekistan several options for financing the project, including on the terms of a state loan, a scheme of borrowed money from the market, investing its own funds, as well as the BOO scheme (build-own-operate). In addition, the possibility of allocating borrowed funds for the construction of the station from the Russian Export Center is being discussed.

  • (Vietnam Investment Review, Hanoi, 17 June 2018) On January 26, Power Machines, the EPC contractor of Long Phu 1 thermal power plant, was put on the US Department of Treasury’s extended list of Russian individuals and companies subject to sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis. The move may delay the construction of Long Phu 1 project by 36 months. After the sanctions were imposed on Power Machines, General Electric announced cancelling the contract of supplying turbines and generators, which are two important segments of the project.

  • (The Australian, Sydney, 29 June 2018)  Protesters worried about potential taxpayer funding of Adani's mega-mine in central Queensland have picketed the Sydney offices of Australia's export credit agency. About 40 Frontline Action on Coal activists on Friday demanded to meet with the boss of the Export Finance and Investment Corporation. They chanted "money for health and education, not for mining corporations" and unfurled a large banner reading "No Future In Coal #NoNewCoal" before being moved on by NSW Police after an hour. The group claim federal Trade Minister Steven Ciobo has directed EFIC to assess "putting public money" behind the Indian mining giant's proposed thermal coalmine.

Volume 17, Issue 5

  • (Canada News Wire, Ottawa, 16 May 2018) EDC is now inviting stakeholders from across the Canadian trade and business ecosystems to offer input and constructive feedback on the following key policies under its environmental and social risk management framework on: Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM); Climate Change policy; Environmental and Social Review Directive (ERD); Human Rights Statement; and Disclosure Policy. A discussion paper has been published, and a dedicated webpage has been created to further explain the review process. Submissions are welcome during a 90-day comment period from May 14 – Aug 17, 2018.

  • (Reuters, London, 18 May 2018) - Anadarko Petroleum is seeking to raise a record $14-$15 billion from banks and export credit agencies for its huge liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique, sources close to the matter said. Fast-growing gas demand from China and Southeast Asia is reassuring export project developers sitting on huge untapped gas discoveries in Mozambique and elsewhere that the market cycle is turning after three years of low prices. The full amount would be the largest loan ever in the LNG sector. French bank Societe Generale, the financial adviser on the $20 billion Mozambique LNG project, has already received interest for a combined $12 billion in cover and direct lending from export credit agencies (ECAs) in China, South Africa, Italy and Japan. Environmental NGOs and Mozambican have raised serious concerns about multiple negative impacts of this project.

  • (Financial Tribune, Tehran, 12 May 2018) At a recent conference in Kuwait, the Saudi kingdom pledged $1 billion in loans and $500 million in export credit to support Iraq's reconstruction after the war with IS, also known as Daesh. Saudi Arabia's rapprochement with Iraq in the run-up to its parliamentary elections appears to take place in the context of a new policy designed to expand its sphere of influence in the oil-exporting country, says a former diplomat.  The May 12 ballot will decide Iraq's leader for the next four years, when the government will face the monumental task of rebuilding entire cities and towns after decades of wars, internal strife and the massive harm inflicted by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.