Index for July 2021

Volume 20, Issue 7

  • (Sky News, London, 16 July 2021) As deadly flooding ravages parts of Germany, the country's government is still considering massive investment in a Russian-led gas project known as Arctic LNG II. Germany has been accused of "pure play hypocrisy" for complaining of the impacts of climate change brought by this week's catastrophic flooding while signalling support for a new gas project in the Arctic. Reuters has reported that France's Bpifrance, Germany’s Euler Hermes and Italy's SACE were among the state-backed international lenders considering providing about $9.5 billion in financial support for the project.

  • (Guardian, Sydney, 6 July 2021) Australia’s export credit agency provided more than $1.5bn in finance to fossil fuel projects between 2009 and 2020, about 80X what it spent on renewables, according to a new report from Jubilee Australia. Over the same 11-year period, covering the hottest years on record globally, it provided $20m in support to renewables projects. Luke Fletcher, executive director of Jubilee Australia, argues that EFA’s support for fossil fuel projects “bucks the international trend”, risks investing in doomed projects and curtails opportunities for the country’s energy sector to modernise. Export Finance Australia has also been criticized for taking on a role as a Development Finance Institution (DFI), adding equity stakes in risky overseas infrastructure to its export insurance and lending powers in order to to compete with Chinese, Japanese and Korean ECAs. For some, this sort of reform blurs the distinction between the government and the private sector, and at worst is a form of corporate welfare, blurring the line between helping developing countries vs Australian business. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and gas, yet producers in those sectors are finding it increasingly difficult to source financing from commercial lenders.

  • (Climate Change News, Broadstairs, 14 July 2021) Campaigners have called on the US to review its longstanding support for Mexico’s state-owned oil and gas company after a gas leak from one of its pipelines set the ocean on fire in the Gulf of Mexico.  The US export credit agency Exim bank has provided $16.14 billion in loans and guarantees to Pemex since 1998, with recent funds going to the site of the fire. For 76 years, the company has received billions of dollars in support from the US export credit agency, the Export–Import Bank (Exim), despite warnings of safety and environmental concerns.

  • (Globe Newswire, Ottawa, 22 July 2021) Export Development Canada (EDC) is committing to net zero emissions by 2050 across its business lines and in its own global operations. The Crown corporation’s plan will include interim reduction targets for the most carbon intensive sectors for 2023 and 2030, supported by sustainable finance objectives. Meanwhile, EDC may face court action in the not-too-distant future, after a legal opinion commissioned by Oil Change International and several other organizations concluded that national export credit agencies have an international legal obligation to scale back their financing for fossil fuel-related activities. Canadian mining and gas company ReconAfrica is currently exploring for oil and gas in Namibia and Botswana which could become one of the biggest oil finds of the last few decades.

  • (Janes Defense, London, 23 June 2021) The UK's export credit agency, UK Export Financing (UKEF), revealed in its annual report on 22 June that it had underwritten a record GBP12.3 billion (USD17.1 billion) for UK industry during the 2020/21 financial year. Key transactions in the annual report included the beginning of the drawing of GBP1.13 billion to BAE Systems in support of the manufacture of Eurofighter Typhoon and BAE Systems Hawk trainer aircraft to Qatar. In addition, buyer credit guarantees for Indonesia were supplied for the acquisition of Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules medium transport aircraft (maximum liability of GBP74.6 million) and air-defence systems from Thales UK (maximum liability of GBP29.8 million).

  • (Nikkei, Sydney, 20 July 2021) The government of Australia looks to support a bid by domestic telecom Telstra to buy a leading South Pacific mobile phone business reportedly eyed by a Chinese suitor, as Canberra works to limit Beijing's influence in the region. Telstra said Monday it is discussing a purchase of the Pacific operations of Jamaica-based Digicel "in partnership with the Australian government." The Australian company said any such deal for Digicel Pacific "would be with financial and strategic risk management support from the government." The government [through Export Finance Australia] would pay for half of the purchase -- estimated by local media at 2 billion Australian dollars ($1.47 billion) -- with Telstra taking a minority stake if the transaction is completed, Reuters reports. If China acquires the Pacific mobile network, it could monitor Australia’s communications to and from the region and use asset management as leverage noted John Lee, a senior researcher at the University of Sydney.

  • (TFX News, London, 7 JUly 2021) Most recently Ghana's Ministry of Finance (MoF) signed a landmark €600 million ($712 million) ECA-covered financing deal for the construction of a 100 km section of the country’s Western Railway Line running from Takoradi Port to Huni Valley. Deutsche Bank acted as mandated lead arranger for both loans. The first, backed by EKN and fully arranged by Deutsche Bank, is a €523 million loan covering the bulk of the cost. The second is a €75 million commercial loan arranged and structured by Investec to cover the downpayment on the EKN-backed financing. It is backed by South Africa’s ECIC and funded by a syndicate of Investec Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, Nedbank (London branch) and Sanlam life Insurance. The Western Railway line is key to the haulage of agricultural produce and minerals from the middle belt to Takoradi Port in the south of Ghana. [The corridor is home to key bauxite mines, which are the bedrock of the country’s integrated bauxite aluminium masterplan.] The involvement of EKN and SEK reflects the significant number of Swedish sub-suppliers participating in the project. The engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the project is Amandi Investment with Bluebird Finance & Projects acting as lead financial advisor for the EPC. Given South Africa’s expertise and established trade flows in rail projects, Investec and Bluebird Finance & Projects - alongside Amandi, discovered that a multitude of South African rail suppliers could be sourced for this project and in turn reached out to ECIC to support the commercial facility, a first for the South African ECA.

  • (US Chamber of Commerce, Washington, 1 July 2021) In a letter to the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Chamber noted that overseas markets represent 95% of the world’s consumers and 80% of its purchasing power. Exports already support half of all manufacturing jobs, and one in three acres of American farms is planted for hungry consumers overseas. Approximately 300,000 small- and medium-sized businesses export, accounting for one-third of all merchandise exports. The International Affairs budget and the agencies it supports play a vital enabling role for U.S. companies to tap foreign markets and create jobs and prosperity at home. The Ex-Im bank provides vital financing and guarantees to help American businesses export. In the last pre-pandemic fiscal year when the Bank was fully functional (FY 2014), Ex-Im backed export sales that supported more than 164,000 American jobs. That same year, 90% of Ex-Im’s transactions — more than 3,340 — directly supported American small businesses. Far from being a burden on the taxpayer or a subsidy for corporations, Ex-Im charges fees for its services that has generated $7 billion in revenue for the U.S. Treasury over the past two decades beyond funds it received in appropriations. Failure to support Ex-Im would amount to unilateral disarmament in the face of other nations’ aggressive trade finance programs.

  • (Reuters, Washington, 30 June 2021) The Export-Import Bank of the United States said on Wednesday it remained far behind its global competitors in financing volume in 2020 even as overall financing activity fell due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its annual competition report here to Congress, EXIM said it authorized $1.8 billion in official medium- and long-term export credit support during calendar 2020, compared with global leader China at $18 billion, France at $12.1 billion, Germany at $8.6 billion and South Korea at $5 billion. China, traditionally the largest provider of export credit, saw its financing volume decrease last year from over $33 billion in 2019.

  • (SteelOrbis, Brescia, 1 July 2021) Invitalia, the public shareholder, by entering the board, is expected to implement contractual commitments, in all a little over €2 billion - €400 million of capital increase - have already been paid, while about €700 million are missing in guarantees for a SACE [Italian export credit agency] loan, plus €900 million in reimbursements and support for variously assorted investments,  Steel magnate ArcelorMittal has so far supported the company with a capital payment of €1.8 billion. Now it is up to the Italian State through Invitalia to do what was agreed, based on the contract that was signed in December 2020, stated Acceaierie CEO Lucia Morselli. She added "The market is favorable and the company is working hard. However, until August 2023 we must comply with environmental constraints that prevent us from accelerating production even more." 

  • (Global Capital, London, 30 June 2021) Europe missed an opportunity to use the debate over the future of development finance to establish an insurance guarantee agency to attract private capital needed to help them hit targets for investment into emerging markets, according to experts in trade finance and insurance. Policymakers spent two years debating whether to use the EBRD or the European Investment Bank as a platform for a new single development bank before deciding to stick with the current set-up augmented by a more collaborative approach dubbed “Team Europe”. An EU development insurer could also use reinsurance to mobilise substantial amounts of non-development finance institutional capital from the private insurance market and from EU export credit agencies, Paul Mudde, former trade finance professional at ABN Amro and trade credit insurer Atradius, said. The problem, in his view, was that in the EU discussions about the European Financial Architecture for Development (EFAD) an insurance approach, like the World bank’s MIGA, had never been considered.

  • (Bloomberg, London, 15 July 2021) African nations plan to raise about $8 billion for a fund to help offset revenue losses for countries that lower cross-border tariffs, as part of a continent-wide free-trade agreement. The African Export-Import Bank, or Afreximbank, has already provided $1 billion for the fund after the African Union set it up to help cushion sudden revenue losses and encourage participation. The free-trade area went into effect on Jan. 1. The $1 billion made available by Afreximbank will be used to leverage funding from other multilateral development-finance institutions, export credit agencies, commercial banks and donors. Afreximbank, in collaboration with the African Union, will hold intra-Africa trade fair in South Africa in November to provide access to trade and market information to companies and countries. In addition, it’s planning “face-to-face training workshops’’ in 13 countries from October to build the capacity required to meet trade targets, the lender said.

  • (ShipInsight, Oslo, 2 July 2021) Oslo-headquartered Export Finance Norway (Eksfin.no), the result of a merger between former government agencies GIEK and Export Credit Norway, has opened its doors and is fully operational from 1 July 2021. The merger of the two predecessor agencies forms part of a larger redesign by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries of the government apparatus around export promotion and export credit financing to make the system easier to navigate for end users.