What's New April 2017

"What's New!" is a periodic update to keep you informed of the latest on the ECA Watch website. What's New! features a wide range of materials related to the reform of Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) including NGO publications and releases, news articles, commentaries and announcements about the policies and practices of ECAs and ECA-financed projects world-wide.

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  • In policy reversal Trump names new Ex-Im president
  • Don't fund South African coal mine, activists plead with Australian export credit agency
  • JBIC Must Immediately Review and Repeal its Loan Agreement for Illegal Coal Project
  • German, Swedish, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Italian and French ECAs support Yamal LNG project
  • Brazil will offer export credit-line for defence products
  • Ex-Im Bank of India confirms $1.6bn loan for Rampal coal plant to bankroll Sundarbans destruction
  • EDC Signals Millions in New Loans for India with the Opening of Singapore Branch
  • Canada's EDC and UK UKEF eye Philippine growth and infrastructure
  • Alba secures $700m in export credit financing
  • Iran, Portugal ECAs Sign Cooperation Deal

In policy reversal Trump names new Ex-Im president

(Deutsche Welle, Washington, 15 April 2017) US President Trump has named Scott Garrett, a conservative Republican former lawmaker, to head the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank. Garrett voted to close the official US export credit agency when he was a member of Congress. Trump also named Spencer Bachus, a Republican former congressman from Alabama, to be a member of the Ex-Im board of directors. During last year's presidential election campaign, Trump dismissed the bank as "unnecessary." He alleged in August that "it's sort of a featherbedding for politicians and others, and a few companies." On April 12th, in comments reported by the Wall Street Journal, Trump announced a policy change on Ex-Im, saying: "Actually, it's a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money." Garrett, a New Jersey Republican, served seven terms in the House of Representatives and voted in 2012 and 2015 against renewing the Ex-Im charter. A founding member of the Freedom Caucus and reported to have made a series of anti-gay remarks, Garrett was defeated in the November elections. Speaking about Ex-Im at a congressional hearing in 2014, Garrett said "when you mix big corporations and taxpayer-backed guarantees, you get a little something that looks an awful like crony capitalism." In a tweet in October 2015, Garrett described the bank as a "corporate welfare program."


Don't fund South African coal mine, activists plead with Australian export credit agency

(Guardian, London, 6 April 2017) Environmental action groups including Greenpeace, Oxfam and GetUp have signed an open letter to Australia’s export credit agency asking it not to fund a controversial new coal mine. The groups say a loan to the proposed Resgen Boikarabelo mine in South Africa will lead to human rights abuses and hinder Australia’s Paris commitment to keep global warming below 2C. The open letter to the Efic Board of Directors from civil society organizations led by ActionAid and Jubilee Australia, and representing some 2 million Australians all together, expressed their belief that by funding this coal mine, Efic is at risk of funding human rights abuses in South Africa.


JBIC Must Immediately Review and Repeal its Loan Agreement for Illegal Indonesian Coal Project

(Friends of the Earth Japan, Tokyo, 19 April 2017) Following objections from local affected villagers, on April 19th the regional court in Bandung, West Java revoked the environmental permit for the 1000MW Cirebon coal-fired power plant expansion plan known as Cirebon 2 (which Marubeni and JERA invested in). The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) had concluded a loan agreement for Cirebon 2 on April 18, the day immediately before the court verdict was due. JBIC now must sincerely take into account the local villagers’ rights and the judicial decision in the host country. JIBC must immediately review and repeal its decision to provide financing for Cirebon 2, as the project is illegal according to local law and in violation of the “JBIC Guidelines for Confirmation of Environmental and Social Considerations” (Guidelines) which require “the compliance with environmental laws of the host nation and local governments concerned” and “the submission of environmental permit certificates issued by the host governments.”


German, Swedish, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Italian and French ECAs support Yamal LNG project

(Kyiv Post, Moscow, 21 April 2017) The German and Swedish export credit agencies have decided to take part in the Yamal LNG project, Novatek CEO Leonid Mikhelson said during the annual general meeting of shareholders. The cost of the project is $27 billion. Yamal LNG has signed credit agreements for the equivalent of $12 billion with China Development Bank (CDB) and the Export and Import Bank of China (CEXIM), and the equivalent of $4 billion with Gazprombank and Sberbank. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will provide €200 million, and Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo will provide €750 million under coverage from Italian export credit agency Sace and France’s Coface (amounting to €350 million. In addition, Yamal LNG received the equivalent of $2.4 billion from Russia’s National Welfare Fund (NWF). WWF Russia in 2015 noted that the situations on Sakhalin Island, the Yamal Peninsula fields (and, apparently, in the Gydansky Peninsula in future) failed to comply with Item 8.4 of the Environmental Standards for Operations of Oil and Gas Companies Acting in Russia developed in 2004 by non-governmental nature conservation organizations.


Brazil will offer export credit-line for defence products

(QUWA, San Francisco, 6 April 2017) Brazil will offer a credit-line to overseas customers of its defence products. The announcement was made by the President of the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), Maria Sílvia Bastos Marques, at LAAD 2017, which is taking place at Rio de Janeiro. As per the Brazilian Ministry of Defence’s press release, current schemes are done on an ad hoc basis, but this formal mechanism will coordinate with each of Brazil’s ministries and will boost the competitiveness of the Brazilian defence industry. For example, there is a Defence Group in the Foreign Trade Chamber.

Ex-Im Bank of India confirms $1.6bn loan for Rampal coal plant to bankroll Sundarbans destruction

(BankTrack, Nijmegen, 11 April 2017) Ex-Im Bank of India’s confirmation today that it is providing a $1.6 billion loan to Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (BIFPCL) for development of the Rampal coal plant in Bangladesh has been strongly criticised by BankTrack. Johan Frijns, director of BankTrack, said: “Ex-Im India’s decision to bankroll the massive Rampal coal plant in Bangladesh, situated right next to the Sundarbans mangrove forest, comes packaged with the claims that ‘state of the art technologies have been selected for this project’, and that ‘all environment concerns related to the project have been addressed’. Yet such statements are completely at odds with the deep concerns held by the Bangladeshi population and the international public, and fly in the face of overwhelming expert opinion to the contrary. Resistance is now set to grow further against the project promoters and the bank.


EDC Signals Millions in New Loans for India with the Opening of Singapore Branch

(Business Wire, Mumbai, 2 April 2017) Export Development Canada today announced its new and first global branch outside of Canada, in Singapore. “EDC’s new branch can process transactions in real time for Indian companies, eliminating the previous 12 hour delay to connect back to our financing team in Canada,” says Bill Brown, Regional Vice-President, Asia, EDC. “EDC’s financial services are now offered more quickly and effectively, which will significantly benefit Indian companies.” The new Singapore branch is expected to play an important role in doubling EDC’s loan bookings by 2021, when it hopes to be providing over USD 4 billion in new commercial financing annually.


Canada's EDC and UK UKEF eye Philippine growth and infrastructure

(Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila, 24 April 2017) As offers of development funding from China and Japan pour in, Canada also wants a bigger piece of the Philippine growth story as its export credit agency Export Development Canada (EDC) seeks more opportunities to fund infrastructure projects and other key industries. In an e-mail interview with the Inquirer, EDC regional vice president for Asia international business development William Brown said EDC was anticipating more Canadian businesses wanting to invest and sell more products to the Philippines as Canadian exporters and investors seek opportunities in emerging markets. EDC recently opened a branch in Singapore to function as its financing hub in Asia. The United Kingdom has offered the Philippines a chance to tap its £4.5-billion export-import facility as a financing option for the Duterte Administration’s massive infrastructure program, the Department of Finance (DoF) said over the weekend.


Alba secures $700m in export credit financing

(Trade Arabia, Manama, 16 April 017) Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), a leading aluminium smelter, has secured commitments of about $700 million from Export Credit Agency (ECA) supported facilities to finance Line 6 Expansion project. The facilities are made-up of a dual tranche of c. $310 million and c. EUR315 million ($334 million) SERV Guaranteed Export Credit and c. EUR50 million Euler Herms Guaranteed Export Credit. The SERV-backed facility will fund the company’s Power Station 5 (PS5) wherein General Electric (GE), EPC contractor, will provide three 9HA gas turbines, three steam turbines and three heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs).


Iran, Portugal ECAs Sign Cooperation Deal

(Financial Tribune, Tehran, 20 April 2017) Export Guarantee Fund of Iran (EGFI) and Portugal’s private insurance firm COSEC signed a memorandum of understanding in Tehran on Tuesday to expand cooperation. The two entities agreed to expand cooperation in co-insurance, reinsurance, credit assessment, claims prevention and recovery of debts that help the exporters of both countries, EGFI reported in a press release. The private insurance COSEC has the mandate to manage the official export credit guarantee scheme on behalf of the Portuguese government. Since the lifting of sanctions, EGFI has been expanding ties with various ECAs and has held talks with institutions across the world, including the United Kingdom Export Finance, Japanese Nippon Export, Investment Insurance Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India, South Korea’s K-Sure and Italy’s SACE. Iran-Portugal trade stood at $1.76 million during the 10 months to January 20, 2017, Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines’ website reported.