Index for July 2018

Volume 17, Issue 7

  • Dutch ECA ADSB issues complaint guidelines

    (Both Ends, Amsterdam, 28 June 2018) Following years of advocating with the Dutch export credit agency Atradius Dutch State Business (ADSB) to establish a complaints mechanism, and following active discussions between a number of Dutch NGOs and the Dutch ECA in recent months, ADSB has published new “Guidelines for submitting a complaint”. While this does not yet compare to an independent complaints mechanism, it at least offers an additional venue for communities affected by ADSB supported projects to make eventual complaints known to the Dutch ECA, and hopefully to start a process to resolve issues raised. This comes in addition to the venue of filing a complaint under the OECD Guidelines for MNEs to the Dutch NCP. We welcome these Guidelines as an important step forward. As always the usefulness of the new procedure will have to be proven following the submission of real complaints from the ground.

  • (European Ombudsman, Brussels, 17 July 2018) Following a complaint launched by ECA Watch members, the European Ombudsman has determined that the European Commission wrongly decided not to carry out a human rights impact assessment before agreeing to the 2015 Sector Understanding on Export Credits for coal-fired electricity generation projects, negotiated in the context of the OECD Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits. The Ombudsman found maladministration on the part of the Commission for having taken this decision in the absence of a thorough analysis of whether it was likely there would be any significant economic, social or environmental impacts, including on human rights. The Arrangement and its subsidiary Sector Understandings are a loosely monitored “Gentlemen’s Agreement” among participating OECD members, which provide “a framework for the orderly use of officially supported export credits”. This is a welcome decision and follows the Ombudsman's recent demand for greater transparency on the part of European ECAs.

  • (UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, 2 May 2018) The report, prepared pursuant to Council resolutions 17/4 and 35/7 for discussion at its 18 June to 6 July 2018 meetings, examines the duty of States to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises, including export credit agencies, to whom they provide support for trade and investment promotion. It explores how States can incentivize business respect for human rights in this context, including through withdrawal of trade and investment support in situations where businesses fail to meet their corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Nine of the 20 pages cover examples and gaps in good ECA practices and moving beyond OECD efforts to avoid race to the bottom approaches. It notes that current National [human rights] Action Plans do not include discussions of the ways in which export credit agencies address and enable access to remedy by rights holders who are harmed in connection with a project or transaction funded or supported by an export credit agency.

  • (Tampa Bay Times, Bismark, 26 July 2018) A federal judge has ruled that the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline has no claim under federal racketeering law for damages against a Dutch environmental group that urged banks not to finance the $3.8 billion project. U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson dismissed Netherlands-based BankTrack as a defendant in a lawsuit that Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners filed in August against that group, Greenpeace and Earth First. In separate rulings this week, he also cast doubt on whether the lawsuit will succeed against the other two groups. Wilson said the lawsuit "vaguely attempts" to connect BankTrack to acts of radical ecoterrorism, but he concluded that "None of BankTrack's actions promoted, assisted or condoned violent criminal conduct,". BankTrack Director Johan Frijns in a statement said the judge's ruling "confirms that this type of advocacy work is legitimate."

  • (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. 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. They say the Adani coalmine would fail EFIC's three investment rules requiring projects to be commercially viable, in the national interest and in the public interest. There were more than 20 similar protests held across Australia on Friday and Saturday.

  • (Space News, Washington, 19 July 2018) Kimberly Reed, President Trump’s latest nominee to chair the Export-Import Bank of the United States, received a warm reception during a July 19 Senate hearing, indicating a much stronger chance for her confirmation than Trump’s initial pick, Scott Garrett. Members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee spent the majority of the two-and-a-half-hour hearing questioning another Trump nominee, Kathleen Laura Kraninger, for director of the U.S. Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, allotting little time on Reed. Reed’s approval would bring Ex-Im Bank closer to the minimum three full board members needed to approve export credit transactions over $10 million,

  • (Azernews, New York, 28 July 2018) A presentation titled “Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline: A new energy Great Silk Road to provide access to reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” was organized at the headquarters of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York with the assistance of the diplomatic missions of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. “Turkmenistan views this gas pipeline as a new energy Silk Road that will connect the regions of Central Asia and South Asia," said Aksoltan Atayeva, Turkmen ambassador to the UN. A road show on financing issues is planned in July to promote the TAPI gas pipeline project and hold negotiations. Several meetings have already been held with a number of export credit agencies (including SACE, Hermes and ECIO), which expressed support for the project. In other news, the TAP project has so far secured €1.5 ($1.74) billion in loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB), and further contributions from the export credit agencies of France, Germany and Italy are currently under consideration. The pipeline is owned by BP (20%), SOCAR (20%), Snam (20%), Fluxys (19%), Enagas (16%) and Axpo (5%).

  • (AFP, Vienna, 6 July 2018) Iran’s remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal vowed Friday to keep the energy exporter plugged into the global economy despite the US withdrawal and sanctions threat. Britain, France and Germany along with Russia and China met with Iran in Vienna to offer economic benefits and assurances that would lessen the blow of sweeping US sanctions announced by Trump. Although there were no concrete pledges or deadlines, they vowed efforts to keep open financial channels with Iran, promote export credit cover and maintain open air, sea and overland transport links.

  • (Bloomberg, Doha, 10 July 2018) Qatar is seeking to raise more than $4 billion from banks to finance the purchase of Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The government is working with financial advisers on the deal that it is said will be backed by export credit agencies. The gas-rich Gulf state is also holding talks with banks and export credit agencies from Italy, France and the U.K. to raise billions of dollars in loans for other defense deals, two other people said. Qatar is beefing up defense spending after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with it in June 2017, accusing the country of close links to Iran and financing terrorism.

  • (Oil Change International, Washington, 23 July 2018) Each year, approximately $20 billion from government-backed financial institutions around the world flows to energy projects in Africa. According to a new analysis by Oil Change International, nearly 60 percent of this finance from 2014 through 2016 went to support fossil fuel development, compared to 18 percent for clean energy projects. Much of the bilateral public finance for energy in Africa appears to support the commercial interests of the countries providing the finance. In part, this is because a third of the finance assessed in this analysis comes from export credit agencies, which aim to support home-country companies to secure business overseas. Titled “Assessing International Public Finance for Energy in Africa: Where Do Development and Climate Priorities Stand?”, the report examines financial flows and support from development agencies, export credit agencies, and major development banks to energy in Africa.

  • (Sputnik International, Moscow, 13 July 2018) The construction work on the second unit of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP), which is the first ever nuclear power plant for Bangladesh, is scheduled to be launched next Saturday. On July 8, the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA), issued a license to Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) for the design and construction of RNPP Unit 2. The project will cost around $13 billion, of which Russia provides a state export credit of up to $11.38 billion and the rest is financed by the government of Bangladesh. "In RNPP we will have the 'Generation 3+' technology, developed from the experience of Japan's Fukushima disaster, which will ensure more safety and security in case of tsunami, cyclone and other similar type of disasters," Dr. Shaheed Hossain, consultant of RNPP Project told Sputnik.

  • (Reuters, London, 12 July 2018) Exxon Mobil will expand its Rovuma liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique by half to cut production costs as the partners prepare to book the plant's supply and formally tap lenders in September, the company told Reuters. The U.S. oil giant took charge of the East African LNG project's onshore operations following a $2.8 billion deal with Italy's Eni last year, adding to its suite of projects in Qatar, Papua New Guinea, Russia and the United States. Mozambique's two rival LNG projects are ramping up to take final investment decisions (FID) in 2019 and both are teeing up buyers and loans to underpin hefty construction costs. But there the similarities end. Anadarko Petroleum's approach involves raising a record $14-$15 billion from banks and export credit agencies (ECAs) to fund the build. At the same time, it is lining up long-term LNG sales deals with external companies in China, Asia and Europe to guarantee the loans. Exxon in contrast will finance a larger share of costs from its own pockets as well as drawing on project partners, including Eni, Korea Gas Corp and China National Petroleum Corporation, bank and industry sources say.

  • (Daily Monitor, Kampala, 24 July 2018) Uganda hurriedly firmed up plans to revamp the country’s defunct airline in March 2019, after signing a purchase agreement for four Canadian Regional Jets 900 series, while at the Farnborough airshow in the United Kingdom. Uganda also signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for two A330 planes that are to be delivered in October 2020. Since Uganda doesn’t have the money to purchase the aircraft, it has committed to borrow from different lenders, on yet to be agreed terms. The biggest value of the loan will be provided by four Export Credit Agencies (ECAs). Export Development Canada will provide 80 per cent of the money to buy regional jets from Bombardier. United Kingdom Export Finance, Bpifrance, the French Public Investment Bank, and Euler Hermes a company that provides credit insurance, bonding and debt collection services will deliver the 80 per cent of the $215.4 million (Ush800.2 billion) needed for two the long haul planes from Airbus.