EU exemption on export credits: is everyone a winner?

(Global Trade Review, London, 13 March 2019) Europe to exempt export credits from banks’ leverage ratios have been received positively, but is this good news for all export finance banks? Last month, EU ambassadors endorsed the capital requirements regulation adjustment package, including an exemption for export credits from the leverage ratio. On the face of it, this should resolve a long-standing headache for export finance banks, who would suffer under Basel III due to a lack of an exemption from the leverage ratio calculation from the export credit agency (ECA)-backed portion of any transaction, despite the near-zero credit risk of an ECA. After years of advocacy by the European Banking Federation (EBF) export credit working group, the ICC global export finance committee and the ICC regulatory advocacy committee, along with support from the Berne Union, various European ECAs and national banking associations, the export finance community can now claim a victory. In practice, this will mean the traditionally low-risk business of export finance should become more attractive for banks, bringing much-needed liquidity to the market. Former EBF export credit working group chair, Henri d’Ambrières, tells GTR that a reluctance on the part of EU regulators to go further with this regulation could mean some exporters may be put at a disadvantage. This could lead to Spanish exporters losing competitiveness against their German counterparts in markets such as Latin America. The two countries jointly account for 40% of all EU exports to the region, and compete in areas such as capital goods for Latin America’s booming renewable power sector – usually purchased in dollars.