Index for August 2023

Volume 22, Issue 8

  • (Sullivan&Cromwell LLP, New York, 10 August 2023) On July 14, the OECD published the revised text of the Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits (the “Arrangement”). This forms part of the landmark modernisation of the Arrangement, as previewed in March of this year. The revised text of the Arrangement is intended to allow export credit agencies from participating countries to support a wider range of climate-friendly and sustainable projects on more flexible terms. The main changes are focused on (1) expanding the scope of “green projects” that benefit from more favourable terms; (2) extending repayment terms and introducing greater repayment flexibility; (3) simplifying the Arrangement; and (4) introducing a more robust transparency regime. [As noted in our June 2023 What's New, the agreement does nothing to restrict oil and gas financing. OECD ECAs supported fossil fuel exports by an average of $41 billion from 2018 to 2020, almost five times more than their clean energy support ($8.5 billion) over the same period. It remains to be seen if allowing for more climate friendly and sustainable finance actually makes it happen.]

  • (Jubilee Australia, NSW, 18 July 2023) Jubilee Australia, a human rights and environmental organisation, has filed legal proceedings this morning (18th July) in the Federal Court of Australia against federal government agencies that subsidise new fossil fuel projects but don’t disclose the full environmental impacts of those activities. The claim is against Export Finance Australia (EFA) which is Australia’s export credit agency, and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), a $7bn fund for infrastructure in northern Australia. Both provide taxpayer-subsidised finance for risky new fossil fuel and related projects that would otherwise not go ahead. “There are very real fears that without clearer climate commitments, EFA and NAIF could fund infrastructure in Darwin designed to support a massive expansion of fossil gas – such as Middle Arm, or to subsidise some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies such as TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil’s Papua LNG project in Papua New Guinea, similar to what EFA has previously done,” Luke Fletcher Director of Jubilee Australia said.

  • (Common Dreams, Portland, 29 August 2023) More than two dozen advocacy groups from Papua New Guinea, the Asia Pacific region, and the United States on Tuesday urged the U.S. export credit agency to reject a liquefied natural gas project that they warned “presents significant financial risks and opportunity costs, as well as harmful climate impacts.” The groups — including the Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights Inc. (CELCOR), Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth (FOE) United States, Global Witness, Oil Change International (OCI), and Sierra Club — wrote to U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) Chair Reta Jo Lewis about the Papua LNG project led by TotalEnergies. The coalition argued that approving Papua LNG not only would contradict the Biden administration’s 2021 pledge to end new public support for fossil fuel energy projects abroad and “further position the United States as an international laggard on climate, but would further jeopardize international climate goals, risk $13 billion USD in stranded assets, and put Pacific frontline communities at further environmental, social, and economic risk.”

  • (Al Jazeera, Washington, 30 July 2023) While the president's rhetoric aligns with global climate promises, his administration has approved massive fossil fuel projects. Ahead of its Climate Ambition Summit in September, the United Nations is calling on global leaders to phase out fossil fuels. US President Joe Biden is painfully falling behind on this agenda and must urgently get back on track to maintain any credibility in these climate discussions. As we suffer through extreme heat in the US and across the globe, President Biden has been protecting fossil fuel profits instead of people.  From the Willow Project in Alaska to Gulf LNG exports, Biden props up dangerous oil and gas projects and the corporations that value their bottom line over our future... skipping important permitting processes meant to protect people and the environment, The latest reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that maintaining a 50 percent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) requires an immediate end to investments in new coal, oil and gas production and hazardous liquified fossil gas (LNG) infrastructure. While Canada, the United Kingdom, and France have published policies keeping their promises to stop international funding for fossil fuels, the United States has refused to publish a policy.

  • (Project Syndicate, Cairo, 18 August 2023) by Hippolyte Fofack, Chief Economist and Director of Research at the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). Given the BRICS’ economic success, more than 40 countries have shown an interest in joining the group and 22 have formally applied for membership. Expansion, trade and investment facilitation will be high on the agenda of the group's summit scheduled for August 22-24 in Johannesburg. They include many issues on which the bloc’s views diverge from those of the G7, such as sustainable development, global governance reform (especially reform of the IMF), and de-dollarization. An enlarged grouping could deepen trade and settlement in local currencies, accelerate de-dollarization, and lead the transition to a more multipolar world. The economic potential of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, the group – called the BRICS since the addition of South Africa – contributes more to global GDP (in purchasing-power-parity terms) than the G7. Since 2014, Russia’s trade with G7 countries has fallen by more than 36%, owing to unprecedented Western sanctions, while its trade with the other BRICS has increased by more than 121%. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that China and India alone will generate about half of global growth this year.  With geopolitical tensions running high, and the weaponization of the dollar for national-security purposes continuing to escalate, the BRICS have taken on new significance, offering trade diversion and other relief to weaken the effectiveness of sanctions and fast-tracking the transition to a multipolar world. Read the Summit Declaration here.

  • (Financial Times, London, 31 July 2023) The European Commission’s recently released EU–LAC Global Gateway Investment Agenda identifies 130 types of projects scattered across the region in which it plans to inject €45bn by 2027. The roadmap targets the green transition, digitalisation, education and health, with projects in Chile, Colombia and Panama. “This is an enormous opportunity for Latin America to increase [European] partnerships, and receive not just investment but also technology transfer and finance to transform these areas,” says José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, executive secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The €45bn programme consists of funds and guarantees provided by the EU, its member states, development finance institutions and export credit agencies.

  • (Energy Portal EU, London, 12 August 2023) The transition to clean energy is sparking intense debates as the climate crisis worsens. While cities, universities, and pension funds across the U.S. have divested from fossil fuels, the divestment movement has faced obstacles. In California, a bill that would have required public pension funds to stop investing in the largest oil, gas, and coal companies was killed for the second consecutive year. The bill’s rejection was due to concerns over its impact on workers’ retirement funds. Banks also play a significant role in the climate crisis by financing governments in dealing with its effects and lending to fossil fuel companies. The frequency and intensity of climate-induced emergencies have overwhelmed scientists and journalists, calling for a new approach to disaster reporting. Instead of treating each disaster as unrelated, climate change should be recognized as the connecting factor among them. Germany recently released a draft policy for the provision of guarantees in the energy sector, contradicting its pledge to end international financing for coal, oil, and gas projects made at COP26. Germany’s export credit agency’s policy raises questions about its commitment to ending fossil fuel funding.

  • (Business India Today, Noida, 6 August 2023) "Reliance and its subsidiary Jio Infocomm JIL tied up its first ever Swedish Export Credit Agency (EKN) supported facilities of $2.2 billion equivalent making it the largest cover ever provided by EKN for a deal to a private corporate globally," Reliance Industries said, adding that the proceeds of the facilities shall be utilised to finance the equipment and services in relation to JIL's pan-India 5G roll out. Jio has committed to an investment of Rs 2 lakh crore to fulfill its ambitious pan-India 5G rollout plan, the company said. Jio started 5G network rollouts in October 2022. "Jio has launched its True 5G services across 2,300-plus cities/towns as of March 2023 and targets to achieve pan-India coverage by December 2023," the annual report said.

  • (China Daily, Beijing, 9 August 2023) China's foreign trade grew steadily in the first seven months of the year but exports in July declined at a steeper-than-expected pace amid subdued global consumer demand, which highlights the need to roll out stronger policy steps to further boost the country's foreign trade, experts said on Tuesday. Li Dawei, researcher at the Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research's Institute for International Economy, said the authorities should offer services such as exchange rate hedging, process export tax rebates faster, expand the scale of export credit insurance services and enhance customs clearance to foster new drivers of export growth amid falling global demand for the country's traditional export products such as electronic items, clothing and footwear.

  • (Lexology, London, 22 August 2023) China’s Sinosure, a major (virtually the only) provider of export credit insurance to China’s factories, plays an instrumental role in facilitating trade between Chinese suppliers and international buyers. However, there’s an under-discussed aspect of their operations that is detrimental for certain countries: the so-called “country blacklist”. Sinosure has a well-documented history of denying (via its infamous blacklist) export credit insurance to companies with outstanding payments to Chinese suppliers. One list outrightly refuses insurance for buyers hailing from certain countries. Though it’s tricky to pinpoint the exact countries on this list, via discussions with industry stakeholders, past Sinosure employees, and clients I have compiled the below list of probable countries allegedly sidelined by Sinosure. The accuracy of this list is dubious. It is not based on any official Sinosure documentation or communications. However, the persistent rumors surrounding this list should not be ignored.

  • (Punch Nigeria, Lagos, 29 July 2023) President Vladimir Putin of Russia says his country will offer preferential loans to enable African companies to buy industrial goods from the European country and enjoy after-sales services. He said his government was devising a leasing mechanism tailored for Africa, and that the Russian Agency for Export Credit and Investment Insurance would provide insurance for the planned preferential loans. The Russian leader made the disclosure during the ongoing Russia-Africa Summit and Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum holding in St. Petersburg, Russia. According to him, the Russia government is also about to establish a dedicated investment fund for co-financing infrastructure projects in the African continent.

  • (Gulf Business, Dubai, 28 August 2023) With a career spanning nearly two decades, Raja Al Mazrouei joined Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI) as a board member in January 2022 and became the export credit agency’s managing director and CEO in November 2022 and January 2023, respectively. Other women recognized on Emirati Women’s Day include: Hana Al Rostamani, Group CEO, First Abu Dhabi Bank; Rola Abu Manneh, CEO, Standard Chartered UAE and Maryam Buti Al Suwaidi, CEO, Securities and Commodities Authority

  • (Sky News, London, 23 Augut 2023) Energy secretary Grant Shapps has visited Ukraine to announce fresh financial support for its nuclear fuel supply in a bid to end its reliance on Russia. The UK will provide a £192m loan guarantee to Ukraine's national nuclear company, Energoatom via the UK's export credit agency, UK Export Finance. Through the deal, UK-headquartered Urenco will supply Energoatom with uranium enrichment services that are vital for nuclear fuel, with nuclear power generating over half of the country's electricity. The government hopes this will strengthen Ukraine's energy security and help end the country's dependence on nuclear services and nuclear fuel from Russia, as well as further isolate Vladmir Putin.

  • (AUManufacturing, No Address Provided, 31 July 2023) Arafura Rare Earths pushed ahead with engineering work and construction of its giant Nolans rare earths project in the Northern Territory in the latest quarter despite a softening market for the critical metals. Arafura has received a letter of interest from Canadian export agency Export Development Canada for the provision of up to US$300 million in debt financing. Nolans has support from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility of $150 million and in principle support for a loan guarantee of up to US$600 million from German export credit agency Euler Hermes.

  • (Bizcommunity, Cape Town, 31 July 2023) Standard Chartered plans to provide the Angolan Ministry of Finance €1.29bn in financing to construct solar photovoltaic electricity distribution infrastructure. The financing is backed by German export credit agency Euler Hermes. Of the €1.29bn total, €1.2bn is supported through Euler Hermes and the remaining €0.09bn is a commercial loan. The loan will fund 48 hybrid photovoltaic generation systems with energy storage that act as ‘mini grids’ and operate autonomously and aim to provide access to 100% renewable electricity for communities not connected to the national electricity grid.

  • (Bowen Island Undercurrent, BC, 2 August 2023) The federal government is trying to reclaim nearly $350 million in insurance paid to Suncor Energy Inc. by Export Development Canada in the wake of political unrest in Libya. The oil giant claimed $300 million in risk mitigation payments for losses linked to Libyan energy assets after fighting between rival political factions spread to the country's oil crescent region in 2015, a Federal Court judge said in a ruling this week. The total — $347 million with interest — was determined by an arbitrator in 2019. But Export Development Canada, which insures against losses caused by political violence, argues that Suncor's oil production facilities still deliver returns for the Calgary-based company. The insurance claim was paid under a policy underwritten by Export Development Canada for Petro-Canada in 2006, which Suncor then came into following their merger in 2009.