Index for October 2019

Volume 10, Issue 18

  • (Fox43 / CNN, Harrisburg, 4 October 2019) Environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion used a fire engine to spray 1,800 liters of fake blood at Britain’s finance ministry in London on Thursday, in protest over what it says is the UK’s contradictory stance on tackling climate change. “The protest is being held to highlight the inconsistency between the UK Government’s insistence that the UK is a world leader in tackling climate breakdown, while pouring vast sums of money into fossil exploration and carbon-intensive projects.”  Among the activists was 83-year-old grandfather Phil Kingston who said he came to the Treasury “to demand radical change,” in particular to the proposal that the UK Export Finance (UKEF), a government body that helps British businesses trade globally, works towards zero emissions by 2050, which he says is “far too late.” A report published by the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee  in June found UK Export Finance (UKEF) – a government body that underwrites loans and insurance to help British firms secure business abroad – had spent £2.6bn in the last five years supporting global energy exports. Of this, £2.5bn went on fossil fuel projects, with the vast majority in low- and middle-income countries.

  • (Newsweek, Washington, 21 October 2019) Newt Gingrich - Opinion (How the Republican right sees EXIM): In the age of Huawei, the Belt and Road Initiative, and China's state-sponsored companies, we need the U.S. Export-Import (EXIM) Bank more than ever. The EXIM Bank, an independent agency, provides government-backed financing for those looking to export goods and services from the United States. Since the 1930s, it has helped grow the U.S. economy and foil unfairly aggressive foreign competitors. However, due mostly to recent politics, it hasn't been fully functioning since 2014. This needs to change - for many reasons. First, according to Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, the country's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is absolutely a part of its military plans... This is a big deal. According to EXIM Bank reports, the BRI system includes about 30 percent of the world's gross domestic product and impacts more than 66 percent of the world's population.

  • (Quartz Africa, New York, 22 October 2019) The first-ever Russia-Africa summit will be held from Oct. 23-24 in Sochi, Russia, marking the culminating point of the return of Russia to Africa, with more than 50 African leaders and 3,000 delegates invited. This convening is only another illustration of the recent increase in  economic, security, and political-diplomatic engagements to foster Russia-Africa relations. Over the last decade there has been a proliferation of Russia-Africa bilateral committees, economic forums, and conferences for economic coordination. In 2011, the Russian Agency on Insurance of Export Credit Investments (EXIAR) was created in order to facilitate Russian companies’ activities and the protection of investments. Russia has boosted its initiative to strengthen ties with the African continent, signing a number of agreements and memorandum of understandings (MoUs) to collaborate on various rail projects during the Russia-Africa economic forum in Sochi on October 23-24. In other news, the CEO of the Russian Agency for Export Credit and Investment Insurance (EXIAR), Nikita Gusakov, said that Russia was seeking to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, noting that the main challenge was to attract Russian companies to Africa. The AfCFTA hopes to encourage a movement from commodity exports to exportation of finished goods.

  • (Xinhua, Beijing, 27 October 2019) China's only policy-oriented insurer specializing in export credit insurance reported steady business growth in the first three quarters of this year. China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation, also known as SINOSURE, had served over 110,000 clients, increasing 13.8% year on year, and underwritten over US$450 billion worth of business from Jan. to Sept. In that period, over US$99.2 billion was insured for business in countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Meanwhile, the company's insurance for business in emerging markets and exports from small and micro enterprises respectively stood at US$179.6 billion and US$49.9 billion U.S. dollars. An assessment report released by the Development Research Center of the State Council and SINOSURE showed that over US$150 billion of China's exports and investment in Belt and Road countries were insured by the company in 2018, surging 15.8% from the previous year. It was estimated that over US$640 billion of China's exports last year were underwritten by SINOSURE, accounting for 25.9% of the total exports.

  • (The Journal,Dublin, 7 October 2019) State aid worth €1.5 billion over the next three years will be needed to stabilise the economy and protect jobs if the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal at the end of the month, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) has warned. The organisation said that, to help companies diversify, a new scheme for export credit insurance aimed at companies impacted by Brexit who want to diversify away from the UK, should also be introduced.

  • (Australian Defense Magazine, Canberra, 3 October 2019) New figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the world’s leading authority on global military spending, show that Australia has become the world’s second largest weapons importer but has dropped to 25th in the export rankings. Australia previously ranked as the fourth-largest importer and 18th largest exporter. It now imports more military equipment than any other country bar Saudi Arabia and exports less than Belarus, the Czech Republic and Norway. The export drop comes in spite of the government’s push to make Australia one of the world’s top ten largest military exporters. The news of the export drop comes in spite of the government’s push to make Australia one of the world’s top ten largest military exporters. The Defence Export Strategy, announced in early 2018, includes a $3.8 billion Defence Export Facility administered by Australia’s export credit agency and a $20 million per annum re-allocation of funds within Defence.

  • (Korea Herald, Seoul, 7 October 2019) While South Korea has vowed to phase out fossil fuels and turn to clean energy to combat climate change and air pollution, it is supporting coal-fired power plants elsewhere - like in Indonesia. The government is virtually contributing to environmental damage as well as corruption in Indonesia by financially supporting Korean companies that are building coal-fired power plants there, according to an environmental activist. “The land has been contaminated so much that we cannot plant fruits anymore. The seawater is also severely contaminated, so the number of fish in the sea has plummeted. We have to go a long distance to catch fish,” said Meiki Wemly Paendong, executive director of West Java at WALHI, an environmental organization in Indonesia. “The pollution levels have worsened, with many locals contracting respiratory diseases,” he said. “Local residents (living near the coal-fired power plant) feel that the plant is ruining everything.” Building of the 1,000-MW Cirebon 2 coal-fired power plant in West Java, Indonesia, began in 2016, with Export-Import Bank of Korea providing a 600 billion won (US$515 million) loan for the project. The construction is set to be completed in 2022. Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission has already questioned some 140 people linked to the corruption allegations as part of a sweeping investigation of the Cirebon project. Over the last decade, Korea has invested a combined 11.6 trillion won (US$10 billion) in 24 coal plant-building projects in seven countries through state-run banks, including the Export-Import Bank of Korea, the Korea Development Bank and Korea Trade Insurance Corp. While the Indonesian government is considering suspending at least half of the plants in the wake of worsening environmental pollution, Korea plans to fund the construction of two more 2,000-MW coal power plants -- Jawa-9 and Jawa-10 -- in Suralaya, Indonesia.

  • (Global Trade Review, London, 29 October 2019) The International Chamber of Commerce Global Export Finance Committee is part of the ICC Banking Commission and was set up in 2015 with the remit of serving as a globally representative body for banks active in export finance. We believe it’s the only industry body representing banks active in export finance on a global basis. Currently there are 16 member banks and we are keen to grow membership further. In terms of market representation, members currently include eight of the top 10 global banks in export finance and over 60% of market volume (based on the Dealogic 2018 league tables). The committee was formed as a reaction to the perceived need for a common approach for banks active in the export finance on regulatory matters and broad market changes. It had its origins in the efforts to add export finance to the ICC Trade Register (the global industry database of default and recovery rates for trade and export finance). As the Trade Register discussions for export finance evolved, it became clear that there was space in the market for a broad, global platform for banks active in export credit agency (ECA) finance to engage in discussion, advocacy and stakeholder engagement.

  • (MACAUHUB, Macau, 30 September 2019) Despite overwhelming evidence that the proect will emit at least 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, causing climate chaos, the US Export and Import Bank has approved a US$5 billion loan to support the export of domestic goods and services for the various phases of construction and development of the integrated liquefied natural gas project in northern Mozambique. Outlining the economic benefits to the USA, the EXIM statement issued in Washington said that this loan will support an estimated 16,400 jobs over the five-year period of the construction of the two natural gas processing plants and additional supplier facilities in the states of Texas, New York. York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and the District of Columbia. The bank added that granting this loan would represent US$600 million in revenue to the US Treasury, including fees and interest charged to the borrower, the Mozambique LNG1 Financing Company Ltd. This company, which is owned by a group of sponsors, previously included the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation group, acquired in August by US group Occidental Petroleum Corporation.

  • (MENAFN, Amman, 19 October 2019) The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Finance of the government of Iraq aimed at rebuilding Iraq and enhancing trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. The MOU replaces the previous agreement signed in Kuwait in February 2018 and increases the total amount of EXIM financing potentially available under the MOU from $3 billion up to a total of $5 billion.

  • (Telegraph, London, 23 October 2019) New research shows that many SMEs in the UK want to explore opportunities overseas, but are put off by the potential payment issues. More UK small businesses would happily export across the globe if they had the correct finance in place, and felt protected against late payments. This is the key takeaway from research by Capital Economics for UK Export Finance (UKEF), the government’s export credit agency set up to support companies that want to sell their products and services overseas.