Welcome to ECA Watch

Export credit agences provide government-backed loans, guarantees and insurance to corporations working internationally in some of the most volatile, controversial and damaging industries on the planet.

Shrouded in mystery, ECAs provide financial backing for risky projects that might never otherwise get off the ground. They are a major source of national debt in developing countries.

ECA Watch is a network of NGOs from around the world. We come together to campaign for ECA reform - better transparency, accountability, and respect for environmental standards and human rights.

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What's New September 2020

"What's New!" is a periodic update to keep you informed of the latest on the ECA Watch website. What's New! features a wide range of materials related to the reform of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) including NGO publications and releases, news articles, commentaries and announcements about the policies and practices of ECAs and ECA-financed projects world-wide.

If you would like to receive "What's New!" write us at info-at-eca-watch.org

Questions?  Email info-at-eca-watch.org

See all "What's New!" updates since 2005 here.

  • No proper benchmark for checking European ECAs' compliance with EU objectives
  • ECAs back $9.5 billion financing for Russia's Arctic LNG 2
  • New report calls for end to export credits to coal
  • IFC adopts Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List
  • EXIM's program to undercut Chinese export subsidies
  • G12 ECA Group Issues First-Ever Joint Statement
  • Trade credit insurance claims expected to surge
  • Are we seeing the end of the UKEF's (& other ECA) fossil fuel empire(s)?
  • Project Finance, human rights and climate change: Updated Equator Principles
  • US EXIM notifies Congress of potential support for Pemex
  • NYT Opinion: EXIM and Corporate Welfare Cronyism
  • Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC (EGA) comes online in Guinea with ECA loans
  • Gensource Potash awaits Hermes approval of ECA support

No proper benchmark for checking European ECAs' compliance with EU objectives

(Bankwatch, Prague, 4 September 2020) Despite being the biggest class of public finance institutions operating internationally, export credit agencies (ECAs) are rarely subject to any public scrutiny. European ECAs self-declare compliance with the non-binding OECD Common Approaches standards, but it’s an insufficient benchmark for evaluating compliance with the EU’s External Action obligations as stated by the relevant EU Regulation.


ECAs back $9.5 billion financing for Russia's Arctic LNG 2

(Reuters, London, 18 September 2020) International lenders have lined up about $9.5 billion in financial support for a Russian Arctic liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, a document seen by Reuters showed, even as such projects come under greater scrutiny over climate concerns. The $21 billion project, which received final investment approval a year ago, is expected to be launched in 2023 and to reach its full capacity of almost 20 million tonnes per year in 2026. Among the lenders is France's Bpifrance, with an offer of $700 million in credit finance, the China Development Bank, expected to offer a facility worth $5 billion and Germany's Euler Hermes, with a covered facility of $300 million. Japan's JBIC is offering $2.5 billion, Italy's SACE plans to put $1 billion into the project, while an unnamed Russian bank is reportedly considering a $1.5-billion investment. While the energy industry touts natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal or crude, it is a source of carbon emissions and critics say LNG projects are hard to reconcile with the transition to low-carbon economy envisaged in the Paris climate agreement and the European Union's Green Deal economic plan.


New report calls for end to export credits to coal

(Swedwatch, Stockholm, 25 September 2020) The coal industry is well-known for its serious climate implications and effects on local communities. Still, European export credits have contributed to expand the coal industry in countries already dependent on coal, including South Africa, a new Swedwatch report finds. In the last decade, ECAs from Germany, Sweden and France have provided significant export credits to South Africa’s coal sector. The country derives 90% of its electricity from coal and is currently constructing two new, large-scale coal-fired powerplants while establishing several new coal mines. Through their export support, the ECAs have contributed to the expansion of the country’s coal industry, which has a well-documented history of adverse environmental and human rights impacts. As European ECAs generally adhere to export guidelines from the OECD, which do not prohibit support for coal-related exports, the report urges France, Sweden and Germany – who have taken vital steps in this direction – to actively push for other OECD member countries to follow suit. The report makes it clear that there is an extensive lack of transparency in relation to export credits, guarantees, insurances and other means of export support.


IFC adopts Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List

(Urgewald, Sassenberg, 21 September 2020) In its recently released report on Greening Equity Investments in Financial Institutions the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, announced it has adopted Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List. Furthermore, the IFC recommends the Global Coal Exit List to its clients and urges them to screen their exposure against the list. [2] Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List provides comprehensive data on the world’s coal industry. Talks about cooperating with Urgewald to adopt the Global Coal Exit List had started after an IFC announcement in April 2019. Since then the NGO has been able to convince the IFC to amend their coal exit criteria in two important ways:

  • to exclude the companies responsible for coal expansion as opposed to only coal projects
  • include a definition of the coal share of revenue that not only refers to coal sales but different coal-related business activities

While urging clients to screen their portfolios against the Global Coal Exit List is an important first step, the next step for the IFC has to invariably be a detailed follow-up to verify that clients actually implement the new criteria.


EXIM's program to undercut Chinese export subsidies

(EXIM, Washington, 9 September 2020) EXIM announced today the appointment of 17 members to its Advisory Committee, and establishment of a new EXIM Advisory Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Competition with the People’s Republic of China. The Program’s purpose is to support the extension of loans, guarantees, and insurance, at rates and on terms and other conditions, to the extent practicable, that are fully competitive with [i.e. undercut] rates, terms, and other conditions established by the People’s Republic of China or by other covered countries (as designated by the Secretary of the Treasury). From 2015 to 2019, China’s official medium- and long-term (MLT) export credit activity alone was at least equal to 90% of that provided by all G7 countries combined. China’s official MLT export and trade-related financing totaled at least $76 billion in 2019. EXIM seeks to reserve at least 20% of our financing authority, or at least $27 billion of our $135 billion in financing, to ‘neutralize’ Beijing’s export subsidies, advance the comparative leadership of the United States with respect to the PRC, and support U.S. innovation, employment, and technological standards through direct exports in 10 industries key to America’s prosperity and security.


G12 ECA Group Issues First-Ever Joint Statement

(Global Trading Magazine, Dallas, 25 September 2020) At the Sept. 9 end of the two-day 2020 G12 Heads of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) meeting, which EXIM Bank hosted virtually from its Washington, D.C. headquarters, the 12 Heads of ECAs issued its first-ever G12 joint statement. ECAs involved included: EXIM USA (Host), Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom. The 2020 G12 Heads of Export Credit Agencies (ECA) Meeting was a productive and open exchange that highlighted efforts aimed at stabilizing the availability of working capital and export credit in a volatile international market environment. The transparent discussion brought forth the important work each ECA is undertaking to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ECA leaders reiterated their steadfast commitment to supporting their global supply chains—domestically and internationally—as well as promoting exports, job security, and financial investment, all of which underpin prosperity at home and abroad. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is an important time for Export Credit Agency leaders from around the world to find common ground on key initiatives, especially those that foster greater transparency,


Trade credit insurance claims expected to surge

(Asia Insurance Review, Singapore, 23 September 2020) A Berne Union report notes that the expected spike in trade credit claims resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet been realised, according to a preliminary report on the business activity of Berne Union members in the first half of 2020. Export credit claims paid in the 1st half of 2020 were 16% lower overall than for the first half of 2019. The fall can be partially attributed to a decline in new commitments during the same time which has been largely caused by a general decline in exports. A 23% drop in new medium and long-term commitments (MLT) was reported and there was also a 4% decrease in aggregate credit limits issued under short-term (ST) export credit insurance policies. In the MLT business, both public and private insurers’ new commitments declined. Meanwhile, for the short-term, private insurers’ commitments fell by 8%, whereas those of public insurers rose by the same percentage according to The Berne Union.


Are we seeing the end of the UKEF's (& other ECA) fossil fuel empire(s)?

(Prospect, London, 10 September 2020) Boris Johnson has pledged to end Britain's support for global gas and oil projects. But will the government really make good on its promise? Investors across the world are growing increasingly wary of financing fossil fuels—and for good reason. In an era of climate protest, carbon neutrality pledges and cheap renewable energy, oil refineries and gas fields look like risky bets. Until recently, ECAs had sunk serious sums of money into fossil fuels without facing much backlash. Figures compiled by the research and advocacy group Oil Change International show that the world’s ECAs provided over $40bn annually to support fossil fuel projects between 2016 and 2018—compared to $2.9bn for clean energy. UK Export Finance (UKEF) was no outlier among its peers. Last year, a report from Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee revealed that 96% (£2.5bn) of UKEF’s of energy investments between 2013 and 2017 went to polluting projects. Of this total, £2.4bn was funneled into fossil fuel projects in low and middle-income countries. If the legislation is free of loopholes, it will divert several billion pounds of public money away from extractive industries and, ideally, towards renewable alternatives. Most importantly, it will signal to the private sector that the end of the oil age is fast approaching. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world’s largest investment banks have provided more than $700bn for fossil fuel projects. In January, a joint investigation by Newsnight and Greenpeace’s Unearthed revealed that UKEF has helped to finance oil and gas projects which, when complete, will emit 69 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. The agency found itself in hot water again in July when it was discovered that it was helping to fund a massive new gas extraction project in Mozambique, along with seven other ECAs.


Project Finance, human rights and climate change: Updated Equator Principles

(Lexology, London, 25 September 2020) The Equator Principles have been one of the principal frameworks for managing sustainability and ESG risk in projects by financial institutions since 2003. The latest update – known as EP4 – renews the focus on human rights and climate change with effect from October 1, 2020. EP4 is the latest update for EP assessment and management of environmental and social risk in international project finance. There are now 110 EPFIs which include banks and [some] export credit agencies. Key differences from the June 2013 version (EP3) relate to the scope of transactions covered by the Equator Principles, and new requirements in relation to projects in high-income Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations, human rights, impacts on indigenous peoples and climate change


US EXIM notifies Congress of potential support for Pemex

EXIM, Washington, 27 August 2020) The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) Board of Directors today unanimously voted to notify the U.S. Congress, pursuant to the law, of its consideration of two transactions that would facilitate the authorization of a $350 million general facility and $50 million small business facility (SBF) for Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). If approved, the combined $400 million financing facilities would support an estimated 1,700 jobs in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas in the oilfield services industry, which has faced difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. EXIM received the applications from PEMEX for the facilities in March 2020.


NYT Opinion: EXIM and Corporate Welfare Cronyism

(New York Times, Fairfax, 4 September 2020) In 1971 at the urging of banking lobbyists, the U.S. Export-Import Bank created the Private Export Funding Corporation (PEFCO), a private entity owned by over two dozen banks and a handful of big corporations. It has operated under consecutive 25-year mandates with an exclusive arrangement, under special terms, to acquire EXIM loans from commercial lenders. Because these loans are fully backed by taxpayers, they impart no risk for the banks that issue them. PEFCO’s current authorization expires at the end of December, but its cozy dealings with big banks and corporations deserve far greater scrutiny. Consider this hypothetical scenario: Boeing wants to sell airplanes to China Air. Boeing asks EXIM to guarantee a loan to China Air so it can purchase the aircraft. JPMorgan Chase originates what becomes a loan from EXIM -  guaranteed by taxpayers -  for China Air. (The bank earns interest at no risk because, even if the borrower defaults, taxpayers will cover it.) Then JP Morgan Chase turns around and sells the loan to PEFCO, which buys the loan using debt raised from investors that is separately guaranteed by EXIM (again, American taxpayers). JPMorgan Chase is also a major shareholder of PEFCO, and PEFCO can pay its shareholders dividends. PEFCO’s shareholders include the same large corporate exporters that account for a large portion of EXIM financing, like Boeing and General Electric. The extensive dealings between Boeing and EXIM - in 2014, for instance, Boeing benefited from 40% of the bank’s activities - explains why critics refer to “the Bank of Boeing.” PEFCO takes that cronyism to a new level. Of EXIM's guaranteed loans that PEFCO acquires, 86% are in the aircraft sector. What’s more, Boeing’s senior vice president for finance and treasurer is on PEFCO’s board of directors.  Nearly every proponent claims that PEFCO plays a crucial role in supporting loans to small businesses. Yet as that unit’s own public reporting shows, less than 4% of the portfolio involves small-business lending — a far cry from the current 25% mandated by EXIM's charter (that will rise to 30% in 2021).


Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC (EGA) comes online in Guinea with ECA loans

(Aluminum Insider, Paris, 30 August 2020) With full production at its alumina refinery in Abu Dhabi, coupled with the beginning of production at GAC, EGA says it has completed its strategic upstream expansion. GAC is one of the biggest greenfield investments in Guinea in over four decades, made possible by an investment of US$1.4 billion. About half of that funding was provided in the form of a loan from development finance institutions, export credit agencies, and international commercial banks.


Gensource Potash awaits Hermes approval of ECA support

(Business Wire, Saskatoon, 31 August 2020) Gensource Potash Corporation, a Canadian fertilizer development company focused on sustainable potash production, announces the successful completion of the next major milestone for its Tugaske Project. Gensource has now received approval of its Development Permit Application for a potash mine from the Rural Municipality of Huron No. 223, whose offices are in the Village of Tugaske, Saskatchewan. A significant portion of the Facility is to have ECA coverage from Hermes, with procurement managed by MAVEG Industrieausrüstungen GmbH using a Debt Facility of approximately US$180 million, with due diligence to be overseen and managed by KfW IPEX-Bank.


What's New August 2020

"What's New!" is a periodic update to keep you informed of the latest on the ECA Watch website. What's New! features a wide range of materials related to the reform of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) including NGO publications and releases, news articles, commentaries and announcements about the policies and practices of ECAs and ECA-financed projects world-wide.

If you would like to receive "What's New!" simply add your e-mail to the ECA-Action list at www.eca-watch.org today! Questions?

Email info-at-eca-watch.org

See all "What's New!" updates since 2005 here.

  •  ECAs, COVID-19 and Climate: Recommendations to Ensure that Economic Support Protects People and the Planet
  •  Johnson poised to stop UKEF funding overseas fossil fuel projects
  •  Afreximbank Commits US$400 M To Mozambique's LNG Project
  •  EC approves €2bn scheme to support Italian trade credit insurance
  •  China slow to curb coal financing as Japan, South Korea ‘accept new reality’ on phasing out fossil fuels
  •  Ford secures UKEF loan guarantee to build on engine exports
  •  Airbus to be sued by investors for bribery and export control violations
  •  US Firms Announce Power Agreements Worth Billions With Iraq
  •  Exim backs exports to Argentina’s YPF
  •  Ghana commissions University of Environment and Sustainable Development
  •  Bangladesh's Prime Bank approved by USDA export credit guarantee programme
  •  Nigeria: Appraising 3 Years of Reform At Nexim Bank
  •  Canadian Football League tackles EDC backed loan

ECAs, COVID-19 and Climate: Recommendations to Ensure that Economic Support Protects People and the Planet

(ECA Watch members, 10 August 2020) This 9 page report finds that while ECA responses to COVID-19 are still quickly evolving, it’s now clear that these institutions are:

  •  Providing more favorable financing terms;
  •  Expanding the geographic scope of the projects and companies they are supporting, including new domestic coverage that was very rare for ECAs prior to COVID-19;
  •  Failing to ensure proper transparency and oversight of who is getting this support and how it is being used;
  •  Increasing risks of corruption, human rights abuses, and environmental destruction;
  •  Potentially increasing support for megaprojects like Mozambique LNG that has already received billions from ECAs; and
  •  Potentially supporting many oil and gas companies that were already financially unviable even before the COVID-19 crisis.

The report’s recommendations include that ECAs must:

  • Ensure that their COVID-19 responses are in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree Celsius target and the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Continue progress on climate policies and protections, including explicitly excluding support for fossil fuel related projects;
  • Promote transparency by providing detailed, public information on all support provided at the time the support is provided; and
  • Uphold all standards on social and environmental due diligence

Johnson poised to stop UKEF funding overseas fossil fuel projects

(MSN News, London, 12 August 2020) Boris Johnson is poised to sign off new rules barring the UK government’s chief foreign lender from offering financial support to foreign fossil fuel projects. The new policy, which could come as soon as this week, will rule out future loans and financial guarantees for polluting projects overseas through the UK’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance, just weeks after it agreed to a £1bn financial package to support work on a gas project in Mozambique. Under the new rules no support may be offered to fossil fuel extraction or oil refining projects from 2021, apart from limited funding for gas-fired power plants “in exceptional circumstances”. The funding plan raised hackles within the prime minister’s office earlier this summer, according to sources, because aides were told that Africa’s biggest ever financing deal in Mozambique was too far advanced for UKEF to abandon. Green campaigners have described UKEF policies as “rank hypocrisy”, falling foul of OECD guidelines.


Afreximbank Commits US$400 M To Mozambique's LNG Project

(AllAfrica, Cairo, 6 August 2020) The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is supporting the advancement of Mozambique’s energy industry and economy by committing up to US$400 million in guarantees and direct lending to the Area 1 LNG Project. The Total Project is estimated to cost about US$24 billion and  is set to be the largest private foreign direct investment in Africa, and one of the largest LNG projects in the world. Last month's ECA Watch What's New highlighted the climate change implications of ECA involvement, now critics say donor countries and international organizations are propping up a corrupt government that's leaving millions of Mozambicans mired in poverty.


EC approves €2bn scheme to support Italian trade credit insurance

(Market Screener, Annecy, 13 August 2020) Under EU state aid rules, the European Commission (EC) has approved a €2bn ($2.37bn) Italian scheme to support the trade credit insurance market in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. Italy notified the Commission of a State guarantee scheme for the reinsurance of trade credit risks to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme will be administered by SACE, the Italian Export Credit Agency. On 19 March 2020, the Commission adopted a State aid Temporary Framework to enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The Temporary Framework, as amended on 3 April 2020 and 8 May and 29 June 2020, provides for the types of aid which can be granted by Member States.


China slow to curb coal financing as Japan, South Korea ‘accept new reality’ on phasing out fossil fuels

(South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, 15 August 2020) China risks being left behind as South Korea and Japan signal a shift away from financing overseas coal power in response to growing criticism over their support for the dirty fossil fuel. The three countries are the top global lenders for coal energy infrastructure, bankrolling projects beyond their borders through export credit agencies and developing new markets to export coal plant technology. But there are signs that Japan and South Korea may be preparing to scale back official support amid mounting pressure from the public and investors on environmental grounds. Environmental campaigners hope the moves by Japan and South Korea will put pressure on China, but whether the world’s largest financier of coal energy will take similar steps remains to be seen. China has an outsize impact on development financing for coal. From 2000-2019, its two global policy banks – the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China – issued loans totalling US$51.8 billion for coal energy projects around the world, according to the Global Development Policy Centre at Boston University. In comparison Japan spent US$26 billion financing 36 overseas coal-fired power plants between January 2003 and April 2019 and South Korean public financial institutions, meanwhile, supported 24 overseas coal projects with US$10 billion from 2008 to 2018.


Ford secures UKEF loan guarantee to build on engine exports

(Automotive Logistics, London, 10 August 2020) Ford has received a £500m ($648m) guarantee from UK Export Finance (UKEF) to help it maintain exports of engines and transmissions from the UK. The guarantee, which was given in July, is part of a planned £625m loan facility from commercial banks using its Export Development Guarantee. Last year the carmaker announced it was closing its engine factory in Bridgend, South Wales, which makes the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine because of declining demand.


Airbus to be sued by investors for bribery and export control violations

(Pomerantz LLP, New York, 29 August 2020) New York law firm Pomerantz has initiated a class action on behalf of Airbus investors who acquired Airbus securities in the U.S. between February 24, 2016, and July 30, 2020, On January 31, 2020, media outlets reported that Airbus had agreed to a deal with U.S., U.K. and French prosecutors to settle bribery and export-control violations against the Company for €3.6 billion ($4 billion).  Airbus misled UK export credit agency UKEF over the identity of an intermediary receiving millions in commissions.


US Firms Announce Power Agreements Worth Billions With Iraq

(New York Times/Reuters, New York, 19 August 2020) General Electric Co said it had signed two new agreements valued at over $1.2 billion with the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity, to undertake maintenance programs across key power plants in the country and bolster its transmission network. The U.S. conglomerate was also working with multiple export credit agencies to facilitate financing of more than $1 billion for the projects, it said in a statement on Wednesday.  Oil company Chevron Corp, Honeywell International Inc and Stellar Energy are also expected to unveil progress shortly on agreements with Iraq to develop one of the country's large oil fields.


Exim backs exports to Argentina’s YPF

(Global Trade review, London, 12 August 2020) The Export-Import Bank of the United States (US Exim) has penned a US$75mn credit guarantee facility (CGF) with state-backed Argentinian energy company YPF. US Exim will cover a loan from Bank of America as part of the deal, with YPF – the biggest oil and gas producer in the South American country. As the oil sector reeled from a price war between major producers Russia and Saudi Arabia in March, together with the impact of Covid-19 containment measures – which saw demand and storage space for the commodity dry up – the US oil benchmark was briefly plunged into negative territory for the first time ever.


Ghana commissions University of Environment and Sustainable Development

(Business Ghana, Accra, 6 August 2020) The new university, funded through the Italian Export Credit Agency, SACE, and the German bank, Deutsche Bank, will providing holistic training for environmental and sustainable development professionals in Ghana. It will offer general and specialized degree programmes and research in climate change, water resources development, energy sustainability, energy economics and policy, urban architecture, natural resources and environmental economics, environmental policy and environmental science.


Bangladesh's Prime Bank approved by USDA export credit guarantee programme

(The Independent, Dhaka, 23 August 2020) The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) of the United Stated has approved Bangladesh's Prime Bank to participate in the Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102) of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the smooth import of US agricultural commodities. Prime Bank is one of the first two banks in Bangladesh which have been approved as GSM-102 Approved Foreign Financial Institutions from Asia Region, said a press release. As an approved foreign financial institution, Prime Bank would be able to support its customers to import food and agricultural commodities from the US like cotton, soybeans, grains, cereals, woods, nuts, fruits among others under the guarantee coverage of GSM-102 Export Credit Guarantee Program administered by USDA, the statement said.


Nigeria: Appraising 3 Years of Reform At Nexim Bank

(AllAfrica, Lagos, 25 August 2020) Since 1986, Nigeria has pursued an export-led strategy. This includes an emphasis on non-oil exports such as cocoa, groundnut, cotton, palm produce, rubber, and grains owing to perennial fluctuations in the prices of oil in the international market. One component of this strategy was the establishment of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) in 1991. Owing to the twin shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden fall in international oil price, the Nigerian economy is experiencing a fall in exchange earning, a fall in Gross Domestic Product (with latest figures showing a contraction of over 6 percent), depletion of external reserve, currently at $34 billion, scarcity of foreign exchange, and high cost of goods. Public policy analyst, Terhemen Ikyaave noted a boost in collaboration between NEXIM and the Central Bank of Nigeria to fund the non-oil export sector. A notable result he said is the disbursement of loans totaling over N39bn (US$100.6M) to 27 export companies under the Non-Oil Export Stimulation Facility.


Canadian Football League tackles EDC backed loan

(Globe and Mail, Toronto, 31 July 2020) The Canadian Football League (CFL), facing Corona virus slashed ticket sales, is seeking Canadian government assistance via a bank loan under the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), after the Business Development Bank of Canada and the CFL couldn’t agree on loan terms. The loan could be guaranteed (up to 80%) by Export Development Canada (EDC), another crown corporation.


What's New July 2020

"What's New!" is a periodic update to keep you informed of the latest on the ECA Watch website. What's New! features a wide range of materials related to the reform of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) including NGO publications and releases, news articles, commentaries and announcements about the policies and practices of ECAs and ECA-financed projects world-wide.

If you would like to receive "What's New!" simply add your e-mail to the ECA-Action list at www.eca-watch.org today! Questions?

Email info-at-eca-watch.org

See all "What's New!" updates since 2005 here.

  • US Exim's role in the Republican/China trade and political war updated
  • SINOSURE maintains steady business growth in H1
  • Danish ECA EKF moves to hide environmental negligence in Armenia updated
  • Mozambique’s ECA backed multi-billion dollar gamble on LNG
  • Serious concerns’ raised over UKEF by Spotlight on Corruption
  • EDC’s role in Canada's oil and gas bailout
  • Ditch Public Financing of Fossil Fuels
  • ECAs and the Aviation Industry: What Does the Future Hold?
  • 80% of Hong Kong Security Law Backers at the U.N. Are Belt and Road Signatories
  • Japan’s plan to curb coal plant lending has major “loopholes” updated
  • HSBC arranges first Green ECA loan in Saudi Arabia
  • Portugal launches plan to boost exports hit by pandemic
  • Finveram warns of 2020 loss due to coronavirus
  • Embraer business jet unit gets $97 mln U.S. EXIM loan guarantee

Embraer business jet unit gets $97 mln U.S. EXIM Bank loan guarantee

(Reuters, Washington, 30 July 2020) The U.S. Export-Import Bank said on Thursday its board of directors approved a $97.2 million working capital loan guarantee for Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer’s U.S.-based business jet subsidiary. The federal export credit agency said the guarantee for the one-year, revolving working capital facility from Apple Bank for Savings would support an estimated 800 U.S. jobs, mainly at Embraer Executive Aircraft’s factory in Melbourne, Florida. EXIM said the loan guarantee also would support supply chain jobs in Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. Embraer has been struggling to craft a new future since Boeing Co canceled its $4.2 billion takeover of the Brazilian jetmaker’s commercial aircraft business in April. Boeing has traditionally been EXIM’s largest single customer, using the agency to finance jetliner sales to many foreign airlines.


US Exim's role in the Republican/China trade and political war

(TXF News, New York, 16 July 2020) The US administration [and corporate media] has drastically upped the ante in its economic war against China with its actions against Huawei. At the same time, US Exim has been charged to not only promote US exports and jobs but also counter Chinese state financing where necessary. For Exim, which came back from its virtual 7 year moribund state when it was fully reauthorised on 20 December 2019, there is much work to be done to rebuild relationships with overseas markets and actively support US exports and jobs. But one of the additional requirements for US Exim under its new mandate is to directly counter China’s two ECAs – Sinosure and China Exim. Beijing is using its ECAs, along with several other state entities, to expand its economic influence and gain a competitive advantage against the United States, the U.S. Export-Import Bank said in its annual competitiveness report. China’s official medium- and long-term export credit activity from 2015 to 2019 was at least 90 percent of that provided by all G-7 countries, the report found. Anti-China sentiment has grown significantly through this year and the Covid-19 period in particular. As such, the widening of the trade war to unilaterally introduce sanctions on a company such as Huawei drastically broadens the scope of the US economic confrontation with China. But for US Exim, even fully funded, and for that matter other ECAs globally, they still face an uphill struggle in competing against Chinese ECAs which not only have huge financial resources at their disposal, but also a big start in many markets – particularly within Africa - where China Inc has spent years developing its trade and investment foothold. China has not been afraid to fly the China Inc flag by extending itself over longer terms and with cheaper debt. Many other ECAs are part of the OECD Consensus and for certain market activity they [are supposed to] follow specific agreed guidelines. China is not part of this. Some observers have categorised China’s trade and investment activities in Africa as a new form of colonialism.  There never has been, nor will there ever be a true ‘level playing field’. EXIM's new mandate charged it with a goal of reserving not less than 20% of the agency’s total financing authority (ie $27 billion out of a total of $135 billion) “to directly neutralise China’s export subsidies for competing Chinese goods and services."  Republican members of the China Task Force have expressed gratitude for "the Export-Import Bank’s multi-pronged efforts to combat the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCPs) predatory practices that put American workers and companies at a disadvantage."


SINOSURE maintains steady business growth in H1

(Xinhua, Beijing, 19 July 2020) SINOSURE, China's only policy-oriented insurer specializing in export credit insurance reported steady business growth in the first half of this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation had served over 126,000 clients, increasing 21.1 percent year on year in the first six months. During the January-June period, the company had underwritten over 324.6 billion U.S. dollars worth of insured businesses. Of the total, the insurer offered about 266.9 billion dollars of short-term export credit insurance and 176.5 billion dollars (about 25.2 billion dollars) of export credit insurance for domestic trade, up 5.2 percent and 20.1 percent year on year, respectively.


Danish ECA EKF moves to hide environmental negligence in Armenia

(Open Democracy, London, 28 July 2020) After a Danish-funded mine caused serious environmental damage in Armenia, the Danish state has been less than forthcoming on failed due diligence, transparency and compensation. As a result of the Danish-funded mine construction, the Teghut mine caused the pollution of local rivers, with damage so severe that local farmers and fruit growers lost their livelihoods. A dam containing liquid waste from the mine still threatens to collapse and bury a nearby village. Now, some seven years after the original loan was approved, Denmark’s business ministry has quietly introduced an extensive duty of confidentiality for EKF employees as part of amending the law governing the export credit agency. Workers at EKF can now be severely punished - including up to two years in prison - if they break this confidentiality. In 2017, EKF withdrew its export guarantee for the project, citing environmental standards, but a 2016 freedom of information request to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs showed that EKF was aware in August 2013 of the risks the mine expansion would pose to the environment, as well as “democratic deficiencies in the Armenian decision-making and approval process” of the mine. The amendments seem to overrule Denmark’s environmental information legislation, in order to benefit EKF’s business activities. EKF and other companies have an obligation under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to avoid harm against people and the environment and, if damage occurs, ensure compensation to those affected. An internal 2019 report by the European Union Delegation to Armenia stated that Lydian International and the US and UK and governments have pressured Armenia over local protests which stopped construction of another controversial gold mining project. EKT is also subject to the OECD's Common Approaches which address the potential environmental and social impacts of ECA supported projects.


Mozambique’s ECA backed multi-billion dollar gamble on LNG

(Climate Change News, London, 10 July 2020) A decade after prospectors struck gas off Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, a consortium led by Total is signing contracts worth $16 billion to exploit it. One of the biggest investments in Africa, the project to extract, liquefy and export gas raises the hope of catapulting Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, to middle income status by the mid-2030s. But it is a gamble, coming as the coronavirus pandemic hits gas demand and economic growth worldwide. The bet can only pay off on a dangerously overheated planet. High rollers from around the world are backing France's Total, including would-be climate champions. The UK is reportedly supporting the project through its export credit agency, even as it urges leaders to bring more ambitious climate pledges to the Cop26 summit it hosts next year. ECAs participating in the financing include the US EXIM (US$4.7B), JBIC (US$3B), NEXI, UKEF (US$1.15B), SACE, South Africa's ECIC, Atradius and EXIM Thailand. In addition 19 commercial banks and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have committed support. ECAs typically link lending to domestic benefits - the US’ EXIM Bank provided $4.7 billion, which it said would support 16,700 jobs in the US over five years. The UKEF lending said its financing would provide more than 2,000 jobs in the UK and sustain a number of businesses. Global Witness’ senior climate campaigner Adam McGibbon said the UK government’s support for fossil fuels overseas, while claiming to take action on the environment, “is nothing but climate hypocrisy. "It makes a mockery of the idea of the UK as a climate leader,” said Friends of the Earth. According to The Times UK Prime minister Boris Johnson was reported as being “pretty furious”, adding that business secretary Alok Sharma and foreign secretary Dominic Raab have criticised the UKEF lending. The newspaper cited concerns that UKEF was operating without “proper ministerial oversight”.


Serious concerns’ raised over UKEF by Spotlight on Corruption

(CITY AM, London, 6 July 2020) A report released today by Spotlight on Corruption found that UKEF is supporting sectors prone to corruption as part of its post-Brexit export drive. UKEF gave support worth £4.4bn to 339 companies over the past year. More than half of UKEF’s priority markets rank in the bottom 50 per cent of corruption indices, including infrastructure and defence in countries that are at a high risk for corruption, the report found. The report assesses the lessons from recent corruption scandals involving UKEF backed companies. On July 31st a British government committee launched a fresh inquiry into the activities of UK Export Finance (UKEF), following criticism of the agency’s project choice, target-setting and lack of user-friendliness. Exporters are being asked to contribute their views on UKEF here with a deadline of Friday 25 September.


EDC’s role in Canada's oil and gas bailout

(Above Ground, Ottawa, 22 July 2020) Canada’s oil and gas sector could receive billions of dollars in public financial aid as a result of Ottawa’s COVID-19 economic response package. The new sums are in addition to the billions of dollars in routine loans and other supports that the industry receives annually through federal export bank Export Development Canada (EDC), which has been given a significant role in delivering this new federal aid. Above Ground, Environmental Defence and Oil Change International have submitted a joint brief to the Senate and House of Commons finance committees that are studying the COVID-19 response measures. The submission outlines EDC’s role in Ottawa’s oil and gas bailout and makes recommendations to align the government’s economic support measures with Canada’s climate commitments. The UN has warned of catastrophic consequences if the world, and particularly G20 countries, do not dramatically upscale their decarbonization efforts to achieve a 55% cut in global emissions within the decade. With Canada on track to widely miss its inadequate 2030 emissions target, it is more urgent than ever for Ottawa to impose robust climate conditions on all forms of federal aid. This aid must serve to accelerate, rather than delay, the transition to a low-carbon economy. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders, in a July 29 Globe and Mail article, notes that Canada commits more public financing to support fossil fuels than any G20 country other than China, an average US$10.6-billion of annual support to oil and gas firms via Export Development Canada.


Ditch Public Financing of Fossil Fuels

(Common Dreams, Portland, 6 July 2020) In an open letter to Emmanuel Macron and Rémy Rioux Common Dreams notes that France is embarking on an important diplomatic effort this November, bringing together 450 global development banks that control $2 trillion in public money. The objective? For public funders to declare that their contribution to the economic recovery from COVID-19 will support climate, sustainable development, and biodiversity goals. However, vague commitments to goals already agreed by governments worldwide will not be sufficient to make the “Finance in Common Summit” a success. The world needs concrete action. G20 governments provide over $77 billion in public finance for fossil fuel projects each year. For example, Canada, the ​second-largest financier​ of fossil fuels in the G20 (per capita, it’s the highest), has given government-backed EDC a major role in the COVID-19 response through two major financing programs that ​specifically prioritise the fossil fuel industry, without clarity on a financial ceiling for these programs. And while the UK government is allegedly working on a policy to exclude oil and gas from ECA financing, the Prime Minister’s office last week agreed to put UKEF money into an LNG terminal in Mozambique, spearheaded by France’s Total. This clearly undermines the UK’s efforts to position itself as a climate leader in the lead up to COP26.


ECAs and the Aviation Industry: What Does the Future Hold?

(JSUPRA, Sausalito, 16 July 2020) The use of Export Credit Agency (ECA) financing in the aviation industry has ebbed and flowed over the years, and it is often during turbulent times that it has proved to be most popular. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented downturn experienced by the aviation industry, it is very likely that there will be an increase in the use of ECA financing in the near future. A typical ECA financing structure for the purchase of an aircraft will involve an 85% loan from a syndicate of ECA-supported banks, and such loans will be guaranteed by one or more ECAs. The unfinanced portion of the aircraft's cost will usually be an equity contribution (and where made by way of loan, fully subordinated to the ECA loan). ECA activity tends to be countercyclical: During economic downturns when banks and other lending institutions are reluctant to provide finance, ECA activity accelerates. By way of example, between 2009 and 2012, EXIM helped finance roughly 30 percent of all Boeing's commercial aircraft deliveries. EXIM received its reauthorization in December 2019 after losing it in 2015 — so it was effectively dormant for a 4.5-year period — while ECA activity for Airbus was curtailed as a result of a 2016 UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation relating to irregular payments by Airbus to intermediaries.


80% of Hong Kong Security Law Backers at the U.N. Are Belt and Road Signatories

(National Review, New York, 7 July 2020) At least 43 of the 53 countries supporting China’s new sweeping Hong Kong security law have made deals with the Chinese Communist Party under its global Belt and Road infrastructure project, which aims to pump trillions of dollars, much of it through ECAs, into countries for infrastructure projects to complete a “New Silk Road” by 2049.


Japan’s plan to curb coal plant lending has major “loopholes”

(Global Trade Review, London, 15 July 2020) The Japanese government has tightened its lending criteria for overseas coal-fired power plants, including that it will not provide financial support for any host country that does not have a decarbonisation policy. However, it will continue supporting coal projects if they use highly efficient technologies, and plants that it has already committed to will still go ahead, locking in fossil fuel-based energy for decades. Singapore's business press The Asset notes that Japan generates around 32% of its electricity from coal, with Australia being its main supplier. It is also a major importer from Indonesia, Russia, the United States and Canada. Around 17% of Japanese power generation comes from solar and wind power. Japan has vast requirements for imported coal, oil and gas, and given its lack of resources, does not intend to fully phase out coal. However, local media report that around 100 out of 140 coal-fired facilities will be taken offline between now and 2030. The move marks a partial shift away from Japan’s strong official backing for coal but includes exemptions, leaving some non-governmental organizations sceptical about how much impact the new approach will have.


HSBC arranges first Green ECA loan in Saudi Arabia

(Zawya, Dubai, 26 July 2020) The proceeds of the loan, which is the first Green ECA loan in Saudi Arabia, are being used to purchase buses from Germany for Saudi Arabia's public transport network. The buses will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution as well as alleviate traffic congestion in the metropolitan Riyadh area through a shift towards public transportation. The loan documentation confirms a commitment to report on positive environmental impacts of the underlying project. In recognition of the use of proceeds and reporting features of the facility, it is compliant with the “Green Loan Principles”, published by the Loan Market Association on 21 March 2018. This loan is supported by Germany's Euler Hermes.


Portugal launches plan to boost exports hit by pandemic

(Reuters, Lisbon, 24 July 2020) Portugal's government has launched a plan aimed at boosting its export sector to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with a goal of increasing exports to 53% of gross domestic product by 2030 from 44% last year. Last year, exports of goods and services rose 4.3% to a record of 93.5 billion euros ($108.5 billion), representing 44% of GDP. However, the coronavirus pandemic has already led to an abrupt drop in exports, with the country's central bank predicting they will fall around 25% in 2020, mainly because tourism collapsed due to lockdowns and the absence of holidaymakers.


Finveram warns of 2020 loss due to coronavirus

HELSINKI, July 1 (Reuters, Helsinki, 1 July 2020) Finland’s export credit and financing agency Finnvera warned on Wednesday of a loss for 2020, citing expected credit losses due to the spread of the new coronavirus. “The coronavirus pandemic causes exceptional uncertainty in the outlook,” Finnvera said in a statement. In 2018 and 2019 Finnvera reported an annual operating profit of 100 million euros ($112 million).