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.

Featured publications and stories

What's New August 2019

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.

  • Export Development Canada: Out from the shadows
  • Civil society groups call for an accountability mechanism for the Equator Principles
  • US Exim: A decade-long renewal or axe it entirely?
  • US Export-Import Bank Hopes to Finance US$5 B Mozambique LNG project
  • South Africa: European governments ‘must pay back the arms deal money’
  • Tiny Timor-Leste Needs Gas and China's All Too Eager to Help
  • Russian Export Center to support Belarus' export to third countries
  • Bauxite exports from Guinea to UAE begin with ECA support
  • KfW IPEX-Bank arranges €2.6bn financing for Dream Cruises newbuilds
  • China Everbright invites TDB to co-manage $1bn energy fund
  • Etihad Credit Insurance inks MoU with South Africa’s export credit agency
  • Iran's Private Firms Want Stronger Export Credit Agency
  • African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) signs MoUs with Japanese banks and NEXI

Export Development Canada: Out from the shadows

(Above Ground, Ottawa 29 August 2019) For decades, Export Development Canada (EDC) has been subject to minimal public scrutiny, with media and Parliament rarely asking questions about the social and environmental costs of the business it supports. But recently, with some of the agency’s highest-profile clients facing charges of wrongdoing, that’s started to change, prompting reporters and lawmakers to question EDC’s screening practices. EDC is one of the largest export credit agencies in the world, providing roughly $100 billion in loans, insurance and other financial services to Canadian and foreign companies every year. It facilitates business in nearly every sector, including those widely recognized as high-risk for corruption, human rights abuse and environmental harm. Last year over 40 percent of EDC’s support went to companies involved in oil and gas, mining, construction and infrastructure. EDC’s track record of questionable business deals goes back decades. Without strong oversight of EDC’s operations, the government runs the risk of facilitating harmful and illegal activities that are too often present in these industries. It also risks putting Canada in breach of its international obligations, such as its duty to avoid contributing to human rights abuse.


Civil society groups call for an accountability mechanism for the Equator Principles

(Bank Track, Nijmegen, 27 August 2019) 79 civil society organisations and partners have submitted a joint statement to the Equator Principles Association (EPA) and signatory banks expressing disappointment that the current review process of the Equator Principles does not go far enough to strengthen accountability and ensure access to remedy. With the EPA currently revising the fourth iteration of the Equator Principles, the “EP4” review should be a moment of ambition for advancing accountability in project finance. Other notable submissions to the Equator Principles review process have also been made by the Investor Alliance for Human Rights and First Peoples WorldwideSince a number of ECAs subscribe to the Equator Principles too, and ECAs also use the underlying IFC Performance Standards as a benchmark, this joint statement is relevant to ECA practices as well.


US Exim: A decade-long renewal or axe it entirely?

(Global Trade Review, London, 16 August 2019) Two US senators have proposed a bill to reauthorise the US Export-Import Bank (US Exim) for 10 years over the traditional four, as the bank’s expiry date of September 30 inches closer. The plan, which is gaining widespread support and attention across the US and comes after legislation negotiated by House Financial Services chairwoman Maxine Waters flopped, also increases US Exim’s exposure cap over seven years to US$175bn from US$135bn. After regaining its full lending powers in May to the delight of exporters across the US and the dismay of republicans in Congress who see EXIM as “corporate welfare” which only benefits large businesses looking to score overseas sales, the expiry date for US Exim is now creeping up as its charter must be renewed, or indeed axed, next month. “With 95% of our customers located overseas, competitive export financing is critical to maintaining a level playing field with our competitors. Boeing supports reauthorising the Export-Import Bank, which helps US manufacturers create jobs and compete in a global market,” a spokesperson for Boeing tells GTR in response to the approaching expiry date. Boeing intends to offer financial services to some of its international clients if Congress doesn’t give approval for further operations, the Wall Street Journal reported.


US Export-Import Bank Hopes to Finance US$5 B Mozambique LNG project

(AllAfrica, Maputo, 25 August 2019) The Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM US) has voted to notify the US Congress of its consideration of a five billion dollar loan to support the export of US goods and services for the development of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project on the Afungi Peninsula, in Palma district, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado. EXIM US estimates that the US$5 B loan "could support an estimated 16,400 American jobs over the five-year construction period. Through follow-on sales, thousands of additional jobs may be generated across the United States" and "through fees and interest earned, the transaction also could create more than 600 million dollars in revenue for U.S. taxpayers". The borrower would be the Mozambique LNG1 Financing Company, whose owners include the Anadarko Petroleum Company, which heads the consortium developing Area One of the Rovuma Basin, including the construction of the gas liquefaction factories on the Afungi Peninsula. Anadarko was recently purchased by another US company, the Occidental Petroleum Corporation. A 2016 Friends of the Earth report (pdf) noted that: "With their farmland and fishing grounds being taken by multinational corporations, entire communities will lose their homes, land, and livelihoods. Locals will receive very few jobs, and an influx of workers from other countries and other parts of Mozambique will likely bring an increase in diseases, including sexually transmitted infections, and place a strain on already limited health-care and education resources. Friends of the Earth further notes that “By approving $5 billion in fossil fuel financing, EXIM is accelerating the climate crisis while causing local environmental damage and propelling human rights violations in Mozambique,”


South Africa: European governments ‘must pay back the arms deal money’

(The Citizen, Johannesburg, 22 August 2019) The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has set aside the findings of the Seriti commission on Wednesday, delivering a scathing judgment that it had failed in fulfilling its mandate. The High Court judgment on the findings of the commission lamented that the arms deal inquiry had never been set up to investigate the truth, but only to clear the names of those implicated. Long-time critic Terry Crawford-Browne said yesterday that South Africa should cancel all still-outstanding arms deal contracts, return all purchased goods – including the fighter aircraft – and recover the stolen money from the arms deal. This includes cancellation of still-outstanding arms deal commitments, such as the 20-year Barclays Bank loan agreements for the BAE Hawk and BAE/Saab Gripen fighter aircraft that are guaranteed by the British government’s Export Credit Guarantee Department (now known as UK Finance),” he said.


Tiny Timor-Leste Needs Gas and China's All Too Eager to Help

(Bloomberg, Suai, 28 August 2019) Colonized by Portugal, invaded by Indonesia, suckered by Australia, Timor-Leste doesn’t need another abusive relationship. But the clock is now ticking for Timor-Leste to find international funding for a $12 billion energy project so work can start before its existing oil cash cow — a separate nearby gas field — becomes defunct as soon as 2021. Royal Dutch Shell Plc and ConocoPhillips have given up on the project after more than two decades, selling their stakes back to the government last year. Twenty years on from a referendum that brought independence from Indonesia after a brutal quarter-century conflict killed an estimated 100,000 people, Timor-Leste’s birthing pains are evident everywhere. With almost half its 1.2 million people living in poverty, the aging war heroes still in charge are now betting big on a risky energy project that could draw one of the world’s youngest nations into a wider geopolitical tussle between the West and China. Fitch Solutions estimates the project, which has been under negotiation for more than a decade, has enough reserves to yield $50 billion in revenue at today’s prices—more than 15 times the country’s gross domestic product. But there’s one big problem: President Gusmao, 73, has insisted the project is built onshore to create much-needed jobs. For energy giants, that’s unfeasible because it requires laying pipeline across a trough to depths of 3,300 meters. That’s making the U.S. nervous China will use debt as a way in to bolster its regional footprint. Timor Gap, which is responsible for developing the on-shore part of Tasi Mane, says it’s arranging $9 billion of the $12 billion needed to fund the Greater Sunrise project, and it’s agnostic about where the money will come from. It’s denied media reports that the funds would come from Export-Import Bank of China. See also Timor-Leste Should Beware China's Belt and Road.


Russian Export Center to support Belarus' export to third countries

(Belarus News, Minsk, 21 August 2019) The Russian Export Center intends to support Belarus-Russia integration projects on advancing to the markets of third countries. Plans are in place to sign a cooperation agreement with Eximgarant of Belarus, which will help lower costs of financing thanks to reducing the number of intermediaries, and will facilitate development of trade and export operations. One of the promising cooperation areas is promoting export to Egypt. The Russian Export Center has been authorized to implement the project to establish a Russian industrial zone in Egypt. It provides for setting up an industrial facility of 525 hectares in the East Port Said Industrial Zone located in the Suez Canal Special Economic Zone. The project will enable Russian exporters and suppliers to localize production in Egypt. The Russian Export Center is ready to support Belarusian enterprises which eye the African market. The Russian Export Center is a state institute established to support non-commodity export. Last year, the center provided around $19 billion to promote Russian export, and $1.33 billion to finance joint trade operations with Belarus.


Bauxite exports from Guinea to UAE begin with ECA support

(Emirates News Agency, Abu Dhabi, 5 August 2019) The UAE's Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) today announced the first exports of bauxite ore from Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC), its mining project in Guinea in West Africa, marking the completion of EGA’s strategic expansion upstream in the aluminium value chain to create an integrated global aluminium giant. The GAC project, and UAE's Abu Dhabi Al Taweelah alumina refinery, where production began April, create new revenue streams and secure raw materials that the UAE’s aluminium industry needs. The GAC project cost some US$1.4 billion to develop with a $750 million loan taken from development finance institutions, export credit agencies, and international commercial banks. EGA invested some $3.3 billion to develop the Al Taweelah refinery, the first in the UAE and  only the second in the Middle East. GAC’s operations include a mine, railway infrastructure, and port facilities. It is expected to produce some 12 million tonnes of bauxite ore per year at full design capacity, equivalent to the weight of two Great Pyramids of Giza. Guinea is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite.


KfW IPEX-Bank arranges €2.6bn financing for Dream Cruises newbuilds

(Seatrade Cruise News, Colchester, 16 August 2019) KfW IPEX-Bank is leading a consortium to structure the financing for Genting Hong Kong’s two newbuilds for Dream Cruises at the MV Werften shipyard. The multi-ECA financing package comprises around €2.6bn toward the total cost of €3.1bn for the first two Global-class ships. Their deliveries are now scheduled for early 2021 and early 2022, instead of late 2020. The financing will be backed by export credit guarantees from Germany, the Finnish export credit agency Finnvera and the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, home to MV Werften. It also benefits from the commercial interest reference rate for ships in accordance with the OECD consensus.


China Everbright invites TDB to co-manage $1bn energy fund

(The Mast, Livingstone, 28 August 2019) Zambia's Trade Development Bank has been invited by a Chinese investment group, China Everbright,  as co-managers of a US$1 billion Green Fund which will focus on green energy projects in Africa. The TDB, an Eastern and Southern African developmental bank founded in Zambia 35 years ago, has also signed a $350 million 10-to-20-year export credit line with Japan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC). Admassu Tadesse, the bank’s president and chief executive officer, said with this the TDA, would be glad to join in the development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Power Dam Project in Mukuni’s chiefdom. Part of the credit line will be covered by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), one of Japan’s two official export credit agencies, with JBIC.


Etihad Credit Insurance inks MoU with South Africa’s export credit agency

(Thomson Reuters Middle East, Dubai, 28 June 2019) UAE – Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI) has signed a memorandum of understanding with South Africa’s Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC) to explore, strengthen, and enhance the bilateral trade and economic relations between the UAE and South Africa.


Iran's Private Firms Want Stronger Export Credit Agency

(Financial Tribune, Tehran, 17 August 2019) In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, private sector representatives have called on government to give more authority to the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran with regard to issuing export guarantees, according to the EGFI chief. The export credit agency says it can provide export guarantees to non-oil exporters to substitute banks’ letters of credit at a time when the economy is saddled with mounting economic and banking restrictions imposed by the United States.


African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) signs MoUs with Japanese banks and NEXI

On the side lines of the Tokyo International Conference of Africa’s Development (TICAD7), ATI signed MoUs with Japan’s three largest banks and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), Japan’s export credit agency; ATI and NEXI announced at TICAD7 the launch of a Japan Desk to be based in ATI’s Nairobi headquarters in order to provide tailored risk-mitigation support to Japanese companies and investors; ATI has a current pipeline of over US$1 Bn worth of transactions from Japanese banks.


What's New July 2019

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!

£7.8bn of UK foreign aid and export credit spent on fossil fuel projects

 (Guardian, London, 23 July 2019) The British government has spent £680m of its foreign aid budget on fossil fuel projects since 2010, according to analysis that highlights the UK’s failure to align diplomatic, trade and aid policies with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Britain allocated more overseas development cash to oil and gas in the two years after signing the 2015 agreement than it had in the previous five, according to the study commissioned by the Catholic development agency Cafod and carried out by the Overseas Development Institute. From 2010-17 the UK provided £7.8bn in financial support to foreign energy projects through a mixture of overseas development assistance, export credit guarantees and other official funding flows. The report says 60% of this total went on fossil fuels. Most of this came in the form of export credit guarantees by UK Export Finance. An earlier analysis by DeSmog UK, an investigative environmental journalism outlet, found an elevenfold increase in UK Export Finance support for overseas fossil fuel projects last year, including oil and gas operations in Oman, Kuwait and Brazil.


Chinese ECA underwrites US$46 bln Chinese firms' businesses in Africa

(Xinhua, Beijing 2 JJuuly 2019) China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation has underwritten 46.08 billion U.S. dollars worth of insured businesses made by Chinese enterprises in Africa from 2018 to the end May of this year, China Securities Journal reported. Of the total, the insurer offered 26.27 billion U.S. dollars of short-term exports credit insurance and 10.11 billion U.S. dollars of medium-and long-term export credit insurance for exporters, said the paper quoting the latest data from the corporation. The company's insurance for overseas investment totaled 9.7 billion U.S. dollars in the period. During the period, the insurer paid compensation worth of 260 million U.S. dollars for companies in multiple sectors, including railways, roads, power, medicare and education.


UAE ECA and Italy partner with Chinese financial institutions to boost trade

(Islamic Business and Finance, Dubai, 25 July 2019) UAE ECA Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI) has signed partnership agreements with China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation (SINOSURE), Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Bank of China to boost trade, investments and bilateral exports between the UAE and China. Under the agreement between ECI and SINOSURE, both countries agreed to collaborate in the areas of insurance and co-insurance, commercial information and credit opinion sharing as well as Shari’ah-compliant solutions, trade promotions and SME programmes. According to the Ministry of Economy, China is the UAE’s main non-oil commodities trade partner accounting for 9.7 per cent of the non-oil bilateral trade in 2018, estimated at over $43 billion. China and Italy have also agreed to enhance financial market cooperation and promote two-way financial market access with support for a cooperation mechanism between their export credit agencies, leading enterprises and financial institutions to provide tailored financing-insurance solutions for cooperation.


'Hidden debts’ reveal risks of China’s lending spree

(Asia Times, Hong Kong, 23 July 2019) China's US$1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative, along with other foreign funding, has become a magical mystery tour, baffling the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Or, according to critics, a diplomatic car crash waiting to happen. “Compared with China’s dominance in world trade, its expanding role in global finance is poorly documented and understood,” a report released last week by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, noting that "Over the past decades, China has exported record amounts of capital to the rest of the world". Many of these financial flows are not reported to the IMF, the BIS [the Bank for International Settlements] or the World Bank.” China is now the world’s largest creditor. A breakdown of the numbers showed that lending soared to around US$5 trillion by 2018 from roughly $500 billion in 2000, which dwarfs World Bank and IMF credit lines. China is not part of the OECD Export Credit Group, which provides data on long- and short-term trade credit flows. In the past 18 months, the venture has been mired in controversy after being branded a “debt trap” by the US and its key Western allies. The ruling Communist Party has announced plans to expand its anti-corruption campaign to BRI projects. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) had limited involvement in the program but that is starting to change and its Director General for international cooperation has stated “[We aim to] create a network of law enforcement of all these Belt and Road countries”. Asia Times askes "Will this long and winding road finally have flashing warning signs of “debt” and “corruption?” Or will this continue to be a highway to economic hell? BRI nations might want to buckle up for a bumpy ride."


Behind Russia’s growing influence in Africa

(The Independent, Kampala, 8 July 2019) Russia hosted the Annual General Meeting for the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) on June 20-22, the second AGM to be held out of Africa since 2012 in China. The Russian Export Center (REC), purchased shares in Afreximbank in 2017 at an undisclosed amount, becoming the bank’s third-largest non-African financial institution. As Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, hosts more than 50 African presidents for the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on Oct. 24, top on the agenda will be how to sustain the economic and political ties between the two trading blocs in the wake of declining oil prices and increasing isolation of the transcontinental nation. Whereas Russia’s presence in Africa had weakened in the 1990s, the country had since then done a great deal of groundwork on joint projects in geology and mining, energy, industry, agriculture, fishing and telecommunications, with total investments now standing at US$20bn. Russia’s economy has been on a standstill for a while, with statistics showing that from 2014 to 2018, its GDP grew at an average of 0.4% per annum, with real disposable incomes declining by 10.7% leaving 19 million of the 145 million Russian population in poverty during the same period. On the other hand, Africa’s GDP has been growing at an average of more than 3%, making it one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Moscow, which had a strong influence in Africa alongside US and China, had frozen its relations with the continent following the collapse of the USSR in 1991. It however remains to be seen how far Russia’s reconnection with the continent will go given that China, India, and especially the United States have intensified their involvement in Africa over the last three decades. Russia’s export values to Africa have nearly doubled over the last five years from US$9.3bn in 2014 to US$17.5bn in 2018 while Russian imports from Africa have stagnated, increasing from merely US$2.8bn to US$2.9bn during the same period. Most of Russia's exports to Africa are medicine, food, forestry products, automotive and mixed fertilizer. Since 2015, according to the Swedish Defence Research Agency, Russia has signed over 20 bilateral military cooperation agreements with African states including; Rwanda, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Guinea. Between 2012 and 2016, Russia had become the largest supplier of arms to Africa, accounting for 35% of arms exports to the region, followed by China (17 %), the United States (9.6%), and France (6.9 %).  Some of Russia’s companies that have made inroads in Africa include; Gazprom, Lukoil, Rostec and Rosatom, with most of their operations in Uganda, Algeria, Angola, Egypt and Nigeria. Egypt has also finalised negotiations with Moscow to build the country’s first nuclear plant, while in Namibia, Moscow is developing one of the world’s largest deposits of platinum group metals.


Federal review of EDC finds inadequate disclosure practices

(Globe and Mail, Toronto, 2 July 2019) A federal review of Export Development Canada has exposed serious shortcomings at the Crown corporation, noting its disclosure practices fall far short of other financial institutions, and that the agency is not legally obligated to consider the environmental or human-rights impact of the financial support it provides to exporters. The findings underscore concerns uncovered in a recent Globe and Mail investigation. The Globe reported that the EDC’s client roster includes companies that have faced allegations concerning corruption, human-rights violations and environmental abuses; the federal agency has demonstrated a tendency to continue supporting such companies after other financial institutions have sanctioned them or cut them loose. Critics have also raised concerns about transparency and federal oversight of the Crown corporation. “Ottawa must impose rules on this Crown corporation to make it transparent and accountable,” Lori Waller, spokesperson for Ottawa-based human rights group Above Ground, said in a statement. “Without strong oversight of its export credit agency, the government risks profiting from harmful and illegal business activities. The law should prohibit EDC from supporting companies involved in corruption, human rights abuse or environmental harm.”


EDC lifts "closed" status on Saudi Arabia-related business

(Reuters, Toronto, 3 July 2019) Canada's export credit agency has lifted a "closed" status on Saudi Arabia-related activity after almost a year of frosty relations between the two countries, citing improved business conditions in the Middle Eastern kingdom. The move by Export Development Canada (EDC) on Tuesday paves the way for the state-owned enterprise to resume support for exporters and investors in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia in August suspended new trade and investment with Canada after it urged Riyadh to release arrested civil rights activists, leading to a trade freeze and expulsion of diplomats. "After monitoring for several months we made the decision that business conditions have improved," Amy Minsky, a senior advisor at EDC, said on Wednesday. She noted that risk remains and there was not necessarily more business in the Saudi Arabian market. The EDC said its position on a country is determined among other things, by the Canadian government's assessment of "political, human rights and corruption risks."


EDC claims review clears them of SNC-Lavelin transaction wrongdoing

(iPolitics, Ottawa 25 July 2019) Canada’s export credit agency says a third-party investigation has cleared the organization of any wrongdoing in providing a political risk insurance policy to SNC-Lavalin in 2011 for a dam project in Angola. EDC said Thursday a review by international law firm Fasken failed to find evidence to support allegations that the corporation turned a blind eye to illegal payments allegedly made by SNC-Lavalin to someone it had retained to help secure a $250-million project repairing the hydroelectric Matala Dam. The allegations were first reported by the CBC earlier this year, citing an unnamed SNC-Lavalin insider. They came as the engineering and construction firm faced intense scrutiny for lobbying the upper-echelons of the Trudeau government to broker a deal that would allow it to avoid a criminal trial for bribery charges relating to its work in Libya.


As Brexit Looms, UK Doubles ECA Credit To Nigeria

(Sahara Reporters, New York, 24 July 2019) With Boris Johnson, who promised to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union without a deal if necessary now the country's prime minister, the United Kingdom Export Finance (UKEF), has increased the export credit finance agreement it signed with Nigeria in February 2018 by £500 million. In a statement made available to SaharaReporters, UKEF said it had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) that will "foster greater cooperation in trade through co-financing in the form of guarantees and insurance". In the last ten years, UKEF has enabled companies in Britain to export goods worth £76.5 billion to emerging markets like Nigeria. In 2018 alone, the agency provided guarantees worth £6.8 billion to 181 companies in 72 countries— its best result in 28 years.


The Poseidon Princples: Will They Affect ECAs?

(Hellenic Shipping News, Cyprus, 2 July 2019) The Poseidon Principles launched on the 18 June 2019, with founding signatories including Citi, DNB, Societe Generale, ABN Amro, Amsterdam Trade Bank, Credit Agricole CIB, Danish Ship Finance, Danske Bank, DVB, ING and Nordea. Together they have a combined shipping loan portfolio of c. US$100bn – roughly 20% of the global total. Additional banks are expected to join them in the near future and it is hoped that ship lessors and financial guarantors including export credit agencies will also become signatories to the Poseidon Principles. The Poseidon Principles establish a global framework for assessing and disclosing whether ship finance portfolios align with the International Maritime Organisation‘s (“IMO”) goal of reducing shipping’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050.


U.S. Senate targets Ex-Im support for Saudi nuclear technology

(Foreign Policy, Washington, 30 July 2019) A bipartisan group of lawmakers is introducing new legislation aimed at restricting the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, the latest sign of growing congressional backlash to the Trump administration’s close relationship with the wealthy Gulf nation. The bill, put forward by Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, would bar the U.S. Export-Import Bank from financing the transfer of nuclear technology and equipment to Saudi Arabia, absent nuclear cooperation agreements, and adopting restrictive international standards to safeguard against nuclear proliferation. The Export-Import Bank plays a key role in funding the export of U.S. nuclear energy equipment and technology abroad.


Foreign beer lovers get tanked with EXIM assistance

(Craft Brewing Business, Akron, 10 July 2019) Craft breweries are promoting Maine beers in international markets via the world’s largest mobile kegerator a 40-foot refrigerated shipping container which packs in 78 on tap beer tanks and carries local Maine beers to far-away destinations. Its maiden voyage was a trip to Iceland 3 years ago and traveled to Leeds, England last fall. All 4 participating breweries ended up with significant orders for their beer overseas. Traveling as one of many breweries on the Beer Box is one thing, but exporting tens of thousands dollars of beer overseas as an individual brewer can be challenging and exposes the company to risk and financing challenges. EXIM insurance policies allowed peace of mind to these small Maine companies regarding their greatest fear – not getting paid."


What's New June 2019

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.

  • MPs make unprecedented call for end to UKEF overseas fossil fuel support
  • Despite climate pledges, G20 coal subsidies rise
  • See no evil: How EDC is bankrolling companies accused of bid-rigging, graft and human-rights violation
  • Chinese Banks and ECAs Court African Governments
  • Europe’s German-speaking ECAs ink collaboration pact
  • Japanese, US & Australian ECAs begin own 'Belt and Road' in South Pacific
  • Waters backs down in Ex-Im fight after internal struggle
  • U.S. lags in export financing arms race fueled by China: EXIM report
  • Kenyan court blocks Chinese ECA backed power plant on environment grounds
  • Norwegan ECA blacklists shipbuilders over human rights abuses
  • Banks with a combined $100bn shipping portfolio stimulate green change
  • Public and targeted consultations on EU short-term ECA rules

MPs make unprecedented call for end to UKEF overseas fossil fuel support

(EU Today, London, 9 June 2019) For the first time, a Parliamentary committee has called for an end to taxpayer support for overseas fossil fuel projects. The Government must move immediately to end UKEF’s fossil fuel support, or all its talk of a ‘climate emergency’ will be seen as hollow words. The UK Government must act on today’s report by parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee about UK Export Finance, which calls for an end to UK taxpayer support for overseas fossil fuel projects by 2021. UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency, underwrites loans and insurance for export deals as part of efforts to help British business overseas. Global Witness was instrumental in calling for Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee to set up the inquiry into UKEF. (26 June 2019, edie newsroom) Thousands of campaigners across the UK are marching today towards Parliament in a bid to urge MPs and the Government to strengthen commitments to tackling climate change, just days after the House of Commons approved draft recommendations for a national net-zero target.


Despite climate pledges, G20 coal subsidies rise

(Reuters, London, 24 June 2019) Despite promising a decade ago to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, the world’s leading economies more than doubled subsidies to coal-fired power plants over three years, putting climate goals at risk, energy researchers said Tuesday. Between 2014 and 2017, G20 governments more than halved direct support for coal mining, from $22 billion to about $10 billion on average each year, according to a report by the London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a think tank. But over the same period they boosted backing for coal-fired power plants - particularly supporting construction of the plants in other, often poorer nations - from $17 billion to $47 billion a year. While spending from national budgets on coal fell, as did tax breaks for it, other forms of support - from development finance institutions, export-credit agencies and state-owned enterprises - soared. Four countries alone, the UK, France, Canada and Ireland have all formally recognised a climate crisis but analysis shows they give $27.5bn annually in support for coal, oil and gas, much of it via ECAs.


See no evil: How EDC is bankrolling companies accused of bid-rigging, graft and human-rights violation

(Globe and Mail, Toronto, 4 June 2019) Export Development Canada once described itself as the country’s ‘secret trade weapon.’ But The Globe’s review of thousands of transactions reveals a pattern of secrecy and lax supervision. In Latin America, billions of dollars in Canadian government-backed loans have been funnelled to two of the region’s most notorious oil companies: the state-owned petroleum corporations of Mexico and Brazil, each riddled with frequent reports of bribery, bid-rigging and inflated contracts. In Africa, hundreds of millions of dollars in financing has been channelled to companies at the heart of South Africa’s worst postapartheid corruption scandal: the state-owned freight rail monopoly and the business empire of the infamous Gupta brothers, whose relationship with ex-president Jacob Zuma triggered a public inquiry into state corruption. And in Canada, billions of dollars in federal export loans have gone to support transactions that benefit Bombardier Inc. and SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., two companies that have been cited in corruption investigations in Asia, Africa and Europe. SNC-Lavalin’s head of compliance says the firm is still hoping to reach an out-of-court settlement on bribery, fraud charges.  EDC has declared itself a leading defender of human rights, but workers groups and advocates say the Crown agency’s long-awaited new policy falls well short of what’s needed.


Chinese Banks and ECAs Court African Governments

(Peace FM Online, Accra, 25 June 2019) African Foreign Ministers attending the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Coordinators’ meeting in Beijing yesterday met Chinese financial institutions who introduced them to their array of financial products. This is in line with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s [2015 and then 2018] $60 billion pledge in financial support to African countries. The breakdown showed that $5 billion was free aid and interest-free loans, while $35 billion was for preferential loans and export credit on more favourable terms, and five billion dollars for additional capital for the China Africa development fund. Five billion dollars was also up for initial capital of special loans for the development of African small to medium enterprises each, and $10 billion for China-Africa production capacity cooperation fund.


Europe’s German-speaking ECAs ink collaboration pact

(Global Trade Review, London, 19 June 2019) Hermes, OeKB and Serv – the export credit agencies (ECAs) of Germany, Austria and Switzerland respectively – have agreed to join forces to improve opportunities for their exporters in the face of increased competition from Asia. While the statement doesn’t call out China by name, Chinese export credits have long been seen as a competitive threat by Europe’s ECAs. China is not a member of the OECD and is therefore not obliged to comply with the OECD guidelines that stipulate the financial terms and conditions that its members may offer, leaving scope for an unfair advantage for Chinese exporters.


Japanese, US & Australian ECAs begin own 'Belt and Road' in South Pacific

(Kikkei Asian Review, Tokyo, 25 June 2019) Japan, the U.S. and Australia have picked a liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea as their first case for joint financing in the Indo-Pacific region, planning to lend over $1 billion, Nikkei has learned. Three government-backed lenders -- Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp. and Australia's Export Finance and Insurance Corp. -- plan to issue a statement on Tuesday regarding their joint infrastructure efforts. The three countries agreed in November to join hands in financing infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific to offer an alternative to China's Belt and Road initiative. The LNG project in Papua New Guinea marks the first project in this three-way cooperation.


Waters backs down in Ex-Im fight after internal struggle

(Politico, Washington, 26 June 2019) House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) on Wednesday shelved a bipartisan Export-Import Bank bill that sparked a fierce backlash from her own caucus. The original compromise she drafted with Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) ignited criticism from a wide swath of the Democrats on the committee — centrists and progressives alike, from the most senior members to newly elected freshmen, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who objected to new restrictions that would be imposed on the bank and big manufacturers such as Boeing, that benefit from its loan guarantees, as well as the lack of tougher environmental safeguards for energy projects financed abroad. Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) were preparing to offer amendments that would impose new limits on the agency's financing of fossil fuel power plants abroad with the political backing of dozens of environmental groups. Limits on sales to China were a must-have for McHenry, who argued that it was a way to curb what he saw as a subsidy for an economic competitor. The bank is only now returning to full operation after years of being hobbled by conservative Republican lawmakers who criticized the agency as engaging in "crony capitalism" and posing a risk to taxpayers, even though it returns money to the Treasury. McHenry had predicted a strong Republican vote in favor of the bill thanks to the compromises Waters agreed to, while disgruntled Democrats were frustrated that Waters negotiated the bill with the Republicans and expected Democrats to fall in line without more of their input.


U.S. lags in export financing arms race fueled by China: EXIM report

(Reuters, Washington, 28 June 2019) China provided as much as $130 billion in government export financing support in 2018, dwarfing every other country and fueling a new export lending arms race, the U.S. Export-Import Bank said in a report on Friday. In the last full year that EXIM had complete lending powers, fiscal 2014, the agency provided $20.5 billion in financing support for $27.5 billion worth of U.S. exports. During the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2018, EXIM authorized only $3.3 billion in financing, supporting $6.8 billion worth of U.S. exports, according to EXIM’s most recent annual report. EXIM has been a popular target for conservatives, who have branded it as a provider of “corporate welfare” and “crony capitalism.” The reinstatement of its lending powers is a boon for large U.S. manufacturers such as Boeing Co (BA.N), General Electric (GE.N) and Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N), which can once again offer U.S.-government-backed financing for overseas customers.


Kenyan court blocks Chinese ECA backed power plant on environment grounds

(Financial Times, London, 27 June 2019) A Kenyan court has halted construction of the country’s first coal-fired power station on environmental grounds in a blow for the $2bn project’s Chinese backers and the green credentials of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Owned by the Kenya-based Amu Power and funded with export credit from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the contentious project has sparked a heated debate in Kenya about the potential impact of coal-based power on the country’s ecosystem. Located on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast approximately 14 miles north of Lamu town, a tourist destination and Unesco World Heritage site, environmentalists say the plant will pollute the air and destroy mangroves and the breeding grounds of endangered species.


Norwegan ECA blacklists shipbuilders over human rights abuses

(Asia Shipping Media, Singapore, 5 June 2019)  Norway is pushing to create a shipbuilding regulation akin to the ship recycling sector’s Hong Kong Convention whereby yards will be blacklisted for financing if they are found to have deficient labour and human rights standards. The initiative is being led by the Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency (GIEK), the giant Norwegian state-run financing institution. Speaking at a human rights in shipping seminar yesterday on the sidelines of the Nor-Shipping exhibition just outside Oslo, Sigrid Brynestad, GIEK’s senior sustainability expert, revealed her organisation has already blacklisted two yards for their human rights abuses. GIEK will not help finance any Norwegian ships at the two yards.


Banks with a combined $100bn shipping portfolio stimulate green change

(Asia Shipping Media, Singapore, 18 June 2019) Eleven major shipping banks have joined a global framework called the Poseidon Principles to integrate climate considerations into lending decisions in line with IMO’s greenhouse gas (GHG) strategy to slash the industry’s carbon footprint by 50% by 2050. The Poseidon Principles are applicable to lenders, relevant lessors, and financial guarantors including export credit agencies. Around 90% of global trade by volume is carried by ships - making the maritime industry a vital player in economic growth, but at a cost. If it were a country, shipping would equal Germany for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Together they represent a bank loan portfolio to global shipping of approximately $100 billion – around 20% of the global ship finance portfolio.


Public and targeted consultations on EU short-term ECA rules

(Lexology, Brussels, 24 June 2019) In January 2019, the European Commission announced its intention to extend, for a period of two years, 7 sets of State aid rules, which were due to expire in 2020, [including the Communication on Short-Term Export Credit Insurance]. In this respect, the European Commission launched public and targeted consultations to assess the relevance, effectiveness and coherence of these sets of rules and to check whether they are still appropriate for the objective pursued. The Commission, as the guardian of competition under the Treaty, has always strongly condemned export aid for intra-Union trade and for exports outside the Union... to prevent Member States’ support for export-credit insurance from distorting competition