Export credit agencies have stepped up during the pandemic

(Financial Times Trade Secrets, Budapest, 26 October 2021) The industry has helped backstop sectors such as airlines hit hard by Covid, saving companies and jobs. An interview with the head of the Berne Union, an association of export credit agencies, to find out how it is helping exporters arm themselves against the downsides of the pandemic through export credit and insurance. The Berne Union operates all over the world allowing countries such as the US and China or Iran and Israel to discuss trade issues freely at Berne Union conferences, with political considerations mostly taking a back seat. It was that environment of co-operation that helped ensure exporters did not go out of business permanently when coronavirus effectively shut down cross-border movement during the spring of 2020. Over the course of the pandemic, members of the Berne Union provided $2.5tn in cover, its president Michal Ron told Trade Secrets. All in all, the volume of business supported by members rose 2.4 per cent between 2019 and 2020. “We have ECAs that are government agencies directly under a ministry,” she said. “Others are joint stock companies with a government-based shareholder. Some simply use direct government funding — it depends.