Index for January 2021

Volume 1, Issue 20

  • (Both ENDS, Amsterdam, 29 January 2021). Atradius Dutch State Business (ADSB) recently launched the so-called “Green Label”. This is a methodology to determine whether a transaction can be qualified as a green transaction. Such green transactions are eligible for export credit insurance with specific, more attractive terms and conditions:

    • Cover for up to 95% – in stead of the usual 70-90% – of the total value of project finance transactions;
    • Flexible acceptance criteria for small green transactions up to €5 million;
    •  Flexible definition of export, allowing cover for domestic transactions that have export potential in the long run.

    The green label is also meant to be a tool to determine the share of green transactions in ADSB’s overall portfolio. Starting from 2019, ADSB annually reports on this.

    Aligning itself with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Netherlands Finance Corporation for Developing Countries (FMO), ADSB reviews whether transactions contribute to:
        a) reduction of climate change (mitigation); or
        b) adaptation to the impacts of climate change; or
        c) reduction of ecological footprint beyond local legal requirements.
    The Green Label distinguishes 11 categories of ‘green’ business, which in their turn have a total of 36 sub-categories. In an Annex to the document an overview – Green List – is provided of various types of business within each of these categories.

    Depending on the intensity of the contributions of transactions to the environment or climate, they are identified as dark green, middle green or light green, but that does not affect their eligibility for the specific favourable terms and conditions for green transactions. The current Green Label will be valid for one year (to December 2021) and evaluated thereafter to ensure it incorporates further insights and developments.

    It is observed that the Green Label aligns well with the EU taxonomy. However it is also noted that there can be differences between the two since the EU taxonomy is valid only for transactions within the EU, while ECA backed transactions are usually located outside the EU.

    Both ENDS notes that this distinction between standards within the EU being different from the standards that ECAs may observe abroad is problematic, particularly where it relates to values and concerns that are universal. This is clearly the case where we need to address issues such as climate change, environmental standards or human rights.

    Overall Both ENDS welcomes the Green Label as an effort to open up for further dialogue on the green qualifications of specific transactions. Many CSOs might question - for example - whether hydro dams for electricity, biomass, refurbishing thermal power plants or industrial farming should qualify for the label green, or instead a brown label.

    Equally, we hope ADSB and other ECAs will prioritize effective instruments to put an end to support for transactions with obvious negative environmental and climate impacts, such as  transactions supporting the exploration and production chains of all fossil fuels. Following recent announcements by the UK government and the new Biden administration in the USA to phase out public support for fossil fuels, it becomes high time for all ECAs to follow suit.

  • (Above Ground, Ottawa, 13 January 2021) Between 2016 and 2018, Canada provided more public finance for fossil fuels than any G20 country other than China, with Export Development Canada (EDC) providing on average $13.8 billion in support to oil and gas companies each year. Last month more than 50 civil society organizations joined us in calling for Ottawa to cut off this enormous flow of public financial support to an industry fuelling the climate crisis. Our letter to the trade minister urges the government to immediately end EDC’s support for all fossil fuels and to scale up its support for sustainable, renewable and equitable climate solutions that respect human rights. Find out more about EDC’s support to fossil fuel producers in our fact sheet.

  • (FOE Japan, Tokyo, 29 January 2021) JBIC, a public financial institution, announced it's decision on December 28 to provide project financing of up to US $636 million to the Vung Ang 2 coal-fired power generation project in Vietnam. The private-sector financial institutions participating in the cofinancing are believed to include Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MUFG Bank, Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank. Vung Ang 2 has been criticized internationally, and many problems with the project have been pointed out. The signatory NGOs strongly oppose JBIC's decision to support the project and its failure to be accountable or  address many criticisms, which include the project’s inconsistency with climate change measures and inadequate environmental impact assessments. The project was originally to be sponsored by Hong Kong-based CLP Holdings together with Mitsubishi Corporation, but CLP announced its coal phase-out policy in December 2019 and decided to withdraw from the project. Standard Chartered Bank of the UK, OCBC Bank and DBS Bank of Singapore, all of which had been considering financing, also withdrew from the project. General Electric, which was expected to participate in the project announced on September 21 2020 that it would “exit the new build coal power market”. In addition to JIBC, the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Kexim) and a group of private lenders, will provide nearly US$1.8bn in loans for the project.

  • (New Statesman, London, 25 January 2021) The sun may be setting on coal-fired power in Europe and North America, but its persistence in Asia threatens global climate targets. Crucial to that darkening outlook is the growing difficulty that coal-fired power plants face in raising finance. Private sector banks, under pressure from investors and activists, have been gradually pulling back from lending to coal projects (although campaigners complain that their fossil fuel exclusion policies are often not tight enough). Instead, developers had looked to concessional finance from the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean governments, whose export credit agencies were happy to lend at attractive rates to projects that used turbines and other equipment supplied by their industrial giants. “[Approximately] 90 per cent of all coal-fired power plants built in Asia in the last five years were underpinned by export credit agency finance,” says Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). All three of those countries are shutting their chequebooks, under pressure to act on climate change.  But the latest IEA data comes with a sting. The Paris-based agency, part of the OECD, forecasts a rebound in coal demand of 2.6% in 2021 as the global economy recovers. Global Energy Monitor data also shows a small increase in the coal power pipeline last year, as Chinese regional apparatchiks, chasing economic growth targets, waved through new project applications. 

  • (Reuters, Brussels, 28 January 2021) Reuters reports that EU competition regulators on 28 January extended looser state aid rules for virus-hit companies to the end of 2021, making it easier for EU governments to pump money into economies battered by the pandemic. This includes extension to the end of 2021 of the temporary removal of all countries from the list of “marketable risk” countries under its short-term export-credit insurance guidance because of the continued lack of sufficient private capacity to cover export risks.

  • (Defense News, Virginia, 29 January 2021) Kenya’s military has ordered 118 four-wheel drive personnel carriers from Turkish armored vehicles manufacturer Katmerciler. Kenya Defence Forces spokesperson Col. Zipporah Kioko told local press that the Ministry of Defence is finalizing the deal for the mine-resistant, ambush-protected Hizir vehicles through Turkey’s Export Credit Agency. Kenya’s military will primarily deploy the Hizir vehicles for counterterror operations against the al-Shabab militant group in Somolia. Reports have emerged of growing disquiet among Kenyan military ranks over the planned acquisition from the Turkish firm amid safety concerns. The vehicles, said to have fallen short of User Specifications Requirements (USR) set by the Kenya Army, were approved in a single sourcing deal by the Defense Procurement Board. Two other firms, one from South African and another from North America, were locked out of the multi-billion shillings deal, despite having more internationally accepted military vehicles.

  • (Reuters, Washington, 18 January 2021) The head of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) on Monday urged the Biden administration to keep pushing to neutralize Chinese export subsidies and help U.S. companies compete, building on gains made under Donald Trump. Chairman Kimberly Reed, a political appointee who will leave her job on Wednesday after 20 months in office, told Reuters she was confident that restoration of the bank’s full lending powers had strengthened the competitiveness of U.S. companies and helped level the playing field, but more work was needed.

  • (Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 14 January 2021) China Mobile is firming as the most likely Chinese company to make a play for telecommunications assets in the Pacific in a move that would trouble Australia’s national security agencies. Digicel, owned by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, is under financial pressure and looking to offload its mobile phone networks across the region including in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. The Morrison government is considering using the nation’s export credit agency, Export Finance Australia, to provide support to other private bidders looking to acquire the assets. This could be in the form of subsidised loans or loan guarantees. Australian security agencies are concerned about the prospect of a Chinese telco gaining a foothold in the region and potentially spying on our close neighbours, government sources said. O'Brien is reportedly asking for more than $2 billion for the assets, but industry sources put the value at less than $1 billion.

  • (Centre for Aviation, Sydney, 31 December 2020) On 31-Dec-2020 IAG announced that its subsidiary British Airways had received commitments for a GBP 2 billion five-year term loan facility underwritten by a syndicate of banks. On 8-Jan-2021 easyJet announced a GBP1.4 billion five year facility, also underwritten by a syndicate of banks. The unusual feature in both loans is that they are partially guaranteed by UK Export Finance (UKEF), an arm of the UK government. Such loan guarantees to UK exporters mark a strategic shift for the UK's export credit agency towards more direct support. In the past, its support has typically been indirect, through guarantees provided to foreign buyers of UK-produced goods and services, with direct support to UK exporters generally focused on smaller businesses. UKEF has long supported the UK aerospace sector's exports through credit guarantees and loans to foreign airlines buying from UK exporters.

  • (Global Trade Review, London, 13 January 2021) The Export-Import Bank of the United States has signed off on a new supply chain finance loan guarantee that marks its first support of a domestic liquified natural gas (LNG) exporter. As part of the deal, US Exim will provide a 90% guarantee to cover a US$50mn SCF facility from Greensill Capital to Houston-based Freeport LNG Marketing. Freeport LNG’s chairman and CEO Michael Smith says the deal will provide the company with “essential working capital” and support its global export operations.

  • (MENAFN, Amman, 30 December 2020) Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE Federal export credit company, has partnered with ECGC Limited (ECGC), the premier export credit agency of India, to explore and bolster the trade and economic cooperation between the UAE and India. India's ministry of external affairs in February 2020 reported that current trade between the two nations is valued at around $60 billion, making the UAE India's third-largest trading partner and second-largest export destination in 2018 to 2019.

  • (SpaceIntel Report, Potomac, 11 January 2021) The U.S. Export-Import Bank is preparing a possible seizure of the Bulgaria Sat 1 telecommunications satellite, in orbit since 2017, following the owner’s inability to reimburse an Ex-Im loan of $150.5 million. The bank, which is the U.S. export-credit agency, has put out requests for candidates who would advise the bank on how to “maximize recovery on its loan by finding a strategic buyer of the company assets,” the bank said.

  • (Ukrinform, Kyiv, 27 January 2021) Ukraine intends to accede to the Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits and intensify cooperation in the export credit field; to cooperate in the area of management of state-owned enterprises and privatization; strengthen responsible business practices in the energy sector and develop the public procurement system. The state budget of Ukraine for 2021 provides for financing of the Export Credit Agency in the amount of up to UAH 1.8 billion (US$63.7 million) in preparation for the negotiation of a free-trade agreement with the Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia and China,