What's New April 2019

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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  • European Commission consultation on short-term export credit rules
  • SNC-Lavalin insider's bribery allegations spark EDC probe
  • German parliament approves ECA supported sale of 6 heavy frigates to Egypt
  • EFIC Reform Puts Pacific ‘Step-Up' at Risk
  • India's Jet Airways delays payments to global lenders guaranteed by ExIm
  • Riyadh aims to counter Tehran’s influence with Iraq ECA credits
  • Iran's ECA Reassures Foreign Trade Partners
  • China gives Naftogaz $1 billion ECA guarantee
  • Eskom’s black hole of debt keeps on getting bigger
  • How Gujarat fishermen won US top court ruling against global funding
  • UAE ECA ECI voted as observer member of Berne Union
  • Australian cattle exported to Sri Lanka under EFIC project dying and malnourished

European Commission consultation on short-term export credit rules

(UKIF, London, 30 Aprill 209) The European Commission is inviting relevant stakeholders to participate in a consultation on the short-term export-credit insurance Communication that is expiring at the end of 2020. The consultation is a backward-looking evaluation, to identify whether those rules should be prolonged in their current form or possibly updated. The deadline to submit contributions is 24 May 2019.

Respond to the survey.

Read the Commission communication to member states


SNC-Lavalin insider's bribery allegations spark EDC probe

(CBC, Toronto, 3 April 2019) Export Development Canada has hired outside legal counsel to review some of its dealings with SNC-Lavalin. The review comes after a company insider told CBC News the engineering giant secured billions in loans from the Crown agency over the years, some of which he alleges was intended to pay bribes. EDC has denied knowledge of any improper payments, but last Friday said it is taking a closer look at a 2011 deal with SNC-Lavalin involving a $250-million project to refurbish the Matala hydroelectric dam in Angola. EDC has backed SNC-Lavalin projects in 19 countries since 1995. In 2012 the head of SNC-Lavalin's construction division was arrested in Switzerland for bribery in Libya. The sheer size of "technical fees" which could total as much as 10% of a project's overall budget should have raised flags. In 2013 the CBC and the Globe and Mail exposed secret payments for projects in Africa, India, Cambodia and Kazakhstan.


German parliament approves ECA supported sale of 6 heavy frigates to Egypt

(Middle East Monitor, London , 5 April 2019) The German Parliament Budget Committee has approved export credit guarantees to secure the sale of six heavy frigates worth €2.3 billion (US$2 billion) to Egypt from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. The ships can be supplied with weapons including guided missiles and torpedoes. Green Party Budget expert, Tobias Lindner, criticised the deal and highlighted Egypt’s human rights record. “The government’s arms export policy is becoming increasingly contradictory,” Lindner told Bild, adding that “people have been fighting for weeks against weapons deliveries to Saudi Arabia, while at the same time wanting to deliver frigates to the military dictatorship in Egypt.”


EFIC Reform Puts Pacific ‘Step-Up' at Risk

(Australian Council for International Development, Canberra, 14 Feb, 2019) ACFID has raised concerns about reform to Australia’s export credit agency - EFIC - as part of the Australian Government’s Pacific ‘step-up’ and is calling for the legislation to be referred to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny. The Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment (Support for Infrastructure Financing) Bill 2019 introduced to the House of Representatives proposes reform to EFIC so it can administer $1.2bn in callable capital to finance Australian businesses to build infrastructure overseas. The increase for EFIC from $200m to $1.2bn in callable capital and the Minister’s statement that EFIC will assist in administering loans for the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility (AIFFP) is cause for concern. ACFID stressed that it is untenable to have $1.2bn of taxpayers’ funding being used for Australian businesses without transparency in its delivery and reporting. A financial scale-up without the relevant capabilities and expertise within EFIC, and the lack of transparency over how EFIC will interact with other Government departments, raises very serious concerns in the aid sector over the suitability of EFIC in holding such a central role in administering new loan-finance. DFAT reassured the Senate that there was no need for any such requirement since Efic has signed up to various OECD export credit guidelines, and will “carefully assess” any number of things to ensure that only good projects are selected, in particular the country’s capacity to repay the loan. [ECA Watch note: The OECD Arrangement's "gentlemans' agreement" and peer review process has not proven much of a deterrent to bad practice, as show by the many flaws and concerns raised here on the ECA Watch web site.]


India's Jet Airways delays payments to global lenders guaranteed by ExIm

(Money Control, Mumbai, 8 April 2019) India's' cash-strapped Jet Airways has delayed repayments to global lenders, including Citibank, that funded the purchase of its Boeing 777 planes the Economic Times reported. The repayments, worth over $18 billion, were due at the end of March. The banks loaned funds to the carrier based on guarantees from the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of the US, which can be invoked in case of a default. If a default occurs, it would be bad news for Jet as the US ECA would deregister and take back the planes. Almost two-thirds of Jet's fleet have been grounded due to non-payment of its dues.


Riyadh aims to counter Tehran’s influence with Iraq ECA credits

(Financial Times, Riyadh, 4 April 2019) Saudi Arabia is intensifying diplomatic efforts to boost ties with Iraq, as the kingdom aims to strengthen its influence on regional rival Iran’s doorstep. The kingdom’s harsh treatment of Shia clerics sparked demonstrations in Iraq, and many Iraqis blamed Saudi Arabia for fuelling hardline Sunni Islamist ideology that gave rise to the Isis extremist group. However, since 2016, Riyadh has taken a more nuanced view of Iraqi politics that aims at chipping away at Iranian influence by denying Tehran the sectarian card. Saudi officials arrived in the Iraqi capital this week, wielding a $1bn grant for a sports stadium. Last year the Saudis pledged a $1bn loan for reconstruction in Iraq, plus $500m in export credit.


Iran's ECA Reassures Foreign Trade Partners

(Financial Tribune, Tehran, 30 April 2019) CEO of the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran says the fund has taken special measures to shield exports from the negative impact of US sanctions. “In light of the new US sanctions and the fact that foreign traders do not receive Iranian bank [export] guarantees, the fund is willing and able to cover the commercial risks for exporters,” she noted. The EGFI said earlier that it wants to expand risk cover for export insurance by $2.5 billion in the current fiscal (started March 21) and increase the penetration rate of export guarantees.


China gives Naftogaz $1 billion ECA guarantee

(Kyiv Post, Kyiv, 2 April 2019) China has been eyeing strategic investments and acquisitions across Ukraine for at least a year now – but a Chinese state-owned credit firm, Sinosure, appeared to up the stakes on April 2 as it inked a deal to provide $1 billion in insurance coverage to Ukrainian energy conglomerate Naftogaz. Naftogaz has said that the new Chinese insurance is essentially a financial guarantee on the company being able to attract debt financing and further direct investment from China. Naftogaz is the state-owned Ukrainian oil and gas monopoly that handles the extraction, refinement and transportation of natural gas and oil. Data shows that China might replace Russia as Ukraine’s largest single-nation trading partner if growth rates in bilateral commerce between the two countries remain steady or increase. Ukraine’s Western and NATO allies, especially Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom have expressed strong concerns about China’s interest in Ukraine – they warn that investments are largely driven by Chinese self-interest and could pose a security threat to the alliance and Ukraine.


Eskom’s black hole of debt keeps on getting bigger

(The Citizen, Johannesburg, 3 April 2019) Moody’s credit opinion issued yesterday on the heels of its recent decision to keep South Africa’s credit rating one level above junk, said elevated government debt and contingent liabilities risks from state-owned enterprises (SOEs), limited government’s ability to absorb shocks. The note came after Eskom’s announcement of a R2.5 billion loan from the New Development Bank in China on top of the R420 billion (US$29 billion) debt it’s already carrying, and there’s no say when the 670 MW of renewable energy it’s meant for, will come on line. Export credit agency finance is one of the sources Eskom is tapping as part of its R300 billion (US$21 billion) funding plan for the new build programme. More than three quarters of that funding has now been secured. On May 30, 2011, the Export Import Bank of the United States had loaned about R5.7 billion, adding at the time to “the R31 billion (US$2.2 billion) in export credit agency backed finance Eskom had already raised.


How Gujarat fishermen won US top court ruling against global funding

(Indian Express, Ahmedabad, 10 April 2019) On February 27, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of a group of fishermen and a Gujarat village panchayat in a suit against the US-headquartered International Finance Corporation (IFC). The case, which now goes back to a US district court, relates to alleged pollution caused by a Gujarat-based power plant partly funded by IFC and Korean ECA KEXIM. Of the estimated project cost of $4.14 billion, $450 million was funded in 2008 by IFC, the Asian Development Bank advanced $450 million as loan, the Export Credit Agency of Korea extended another $800 million as loan, and CGPL raised around Rs 1.5 billion from Indian banks through debt. According to National Fish Worker’s Forum, a nationwide federation of fishermen organisations, the plant operates a cooling technology that requires much more water than the system it got clearance for. The water is eventually discharged into the sea, and the complainants have alleged that it has affected marine life. Budha Jam, leader of the fishermen community of Tragadi-Nal, says: “With marine life near the coast affected, we are forced to sail farther in search of fish. They also dredged the coast and seafloor for their outfall channel and deposited sand near a well, which was a source of drinking water. Water in the well has turned saline since.” Complainants add that coal dust and fly-ash from the plant are damaging date palms and chikoo trees in Navinal. [One wonders how KEXIM's adherence to the OECD's Common Approaches could have allowed this.]


UAE ECA ECI voted as observer member of Berne Union

(Times of Oman, Muscat, 28 April 2019) Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE Federal credit insurance company, was voted in as an observer member of the Berne Union, a renowned global association that represents the global export credit and investment insurance industry. In 2018,Berne Union members delivered US$2.5 trillion of payment risk protection to banking institutions, exporters and investors which is equivalent to 13 per cent of total cross-border merchandise trade.


Australian cattle exported to Sri Lanka under EFIC project dying and malnourished

(ABC, Sydney, 4 April 2019) Hundreds of Australian and New Zealand cattle have died in a Federal Government-backed export deal with Sri Lanka, which local farmers say has left them broke, and in some cases, suicidal. Farmers and animal rights groups, as well as Sri Lanka's own auditor-general, want the export project stopped because they say it is poorly planned and inhumane. Angry Sri Lankan farmers have told the ABC the "high-yielding, pregnant dairy cows" they were promised were overpriced, unhealthy and infertile. Sri Lankan business consultant Mohammed Mausook Riyal, adding that the cows were the wrong breed for the climate, making them susceptible to disease, and farmers could not make a profit because of poor milk yield and low conception rates. Under the terms of the $100 million project, underwritten by the Australian Government's export credit agency, EFIC, the exporter, Wellard, was required to provide Sri Lankan farmers with facilities, training and veterinary support.