Lexology report: Export Credit Agencies and Insurers

(Lexology, London, 24 August 2021) ASHURST LLP has produced a 12 page overview of official export credit agencies in the EU, OECD, UK and globally, which broadly reviews ECA history, policies, competition, budgets, sector agreements, etc. It notes that as recently as the turn of the century, the OECD Arrangement was understood to cover the vast majority of export credits globally, whereas US EXIM now estimates that in 2019 total activity provided under the rules of the OECD arrangement amounted to only 34% of total export and trade-related finance - approximately US$76 billion. The OECD arrangement is described as a 'gentlemen's agreement' among its participants, seeking to ensure there is not a race to the bottom or a crowding out of private financing options that could lead to public resources subsidising exporters. The participants to the Arrangement claim that, despite its voluntary nature, the international cooperation that regulates ECA operations has been a mainstay of the market for decades, looking to ensure that competition remains on the quality and pricing of goods and services rather than the financing terms, i.e. subsidies. However they admit that the core purpose of ECAs is to promote exports to provide jobs domestically and increase the wealth of the country they originate from. Meanwhile, ECA Watch maintains that monitoring of the implementation of the OECD Arrangement, its sectoral agreements as well as the Common Approaches on social and environmental due diligence for officially supported export credits, remains seriously inadequate. The lack of transparency in the application of due diligence procedures results in official ECA support for multiple projects to contravene international environmental, human rights and other treaties and agreements to which these ECAs' own governments are parties. While a somewhat useful overview of complex ECA agreements and practices, the report neglects the significant contraventions of international rights and the resultant trauma caused by so many official ECA supported projects on people and their families across the globe.