Both ENDS: Export credit insurer Atradius played a crucial role in Angola

Translation of the original piece in Dutch found at the above link.

Opinion | Daniëlle Hirsch is director of Both ENDS

This week it came to light in the Dutch newspapers FD and Trouw that the Dutch offshore company Van Oord, ING and the Dutch export credit insurer Atradius Dutch State Business (ADSB) are involved in human rights violations and large-scale corruption in Angola. A crucial role is reserved for ADSB, which, on behalf of the Dutch state, insured the activities of Van Oord in Angola against financial risks.

Purely because ADSB covers the risks of projects such as in Luanda, banks such as ING are stepping into these types of risky companies: Without the services of ADSB they will not come about. Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra and Minister of Foreign Trade Sigrid Kaag must highlight the dubious role of ADSB in Dutch trade policy and call the company to account.

ADSB itself must investigate the history and possible impact on people and the environment on site, before insuring high-risk projects. The export credit insurer does too little to prevent Dutch companies from becoming involved in corruption and human rights violations.

We also see this in a project in the Suape port in Brazil, where ADSB provided credit insurance - also to Van Oord. Dredging caused environmental damage and people, just like in Angola, were driven out of their homes.

It appears that ADSB has not had contact with the affected communities in Luanda. In general, the company is happy to leave talking to fishermen, farmers or city dwellers to its client, in this case Van Oord, which only has to prove on paper that it has looked at possible environmental and human rights effects. If afterwards something turns out to be wrong, then all responsibility for this lies with the customer and in the most extreme case the insurance is withdrawn. In this way ADSB remains a driver of foreign deals, but it is never to blame. This does not comply with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which it expects its customers to comply with.

The crucial role of ADSB in export policy and the responsibility that the Dutch state has in this regard receive no attention from the press, the public and the House of Representatives, while this is necessary.

Daniëlle Hirsch is director at the environmental and human rights organization Both ENDS