Australian ECA EFIC annual report shows rising loans

(Sydney Morning Herald, 25 November 2013, Sydney) Australia's export credit agency wrote more loans in the 2013 financial year than the year before, despite almost halving the total amount of taxpayers' funds it provided. The mining sector comprised almost half of its financial assistance, with EFIC's single biggest commitment being a $US150 million loan for the Ichthys LNG project in Darwin. EFIC was among eight export credit agencies and 24 commercial banks to participate in the $US20 billion financing of the project, the world's biggest. EFIC has been criticised in recent times for loaning to large corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Leighton Holdings, and it was urged by a Productivity Commission report in 2012 to ''substantially reorientate'' its focus towards small exporters, rather than big companies that can easily source money elsewhere at low interest rates.