What's New for April 2023

"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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  • OECD countries reach agreement to modernize export credit support
  • ECAs of a wide range of OECD countries still finance oil and gas
  • DeSmog: "UKEF locks us all into more carbon emissions for decades"
  • FOE investigates EXIM fossil fuel influence peddling in Alaska carbon bomb
  • Export Finance Australia (EFA) can no longer justify fossil fuel funding
  • ECAs to play significant role in securing Europe’s critical materials
  • UK export credit agency gains £10bn in additional financing
  • Russians urging greater EXIAR engagement with Africa
  • Italian credit agency SACE to allocate additional USD 1.1bn for Ukraine
  • SINOSURE pulls out of Nigerian AKK pipeline funding
  • COPE to investigate corruption charges against Sri Lanka ECA General Manager
  • Five decades later, UKEF-backed Iran missiles deal lands in court
  • Export Credit Norway (ECN) covers 85% of Hungarian missile system purchase
  • Angolan food production plant supported by Deutsche Bank and SACE
  • Chinese & foreign banks & ECAs bolster Belt & Road Initiative

OECD countries reach historic agreement to modernize export credit support

(Trade Finance Global, London, 7 April 2023) A modernisation package agreed in principle by participants will specifically allow countries to offer greater support for green projects while also expanding the use of export credits in the context of an evolving world economy and an increasingly competitive landscape. Within the package of reforms, the Participants agreed to expand the scope of green or climate-friendly projects eligible for longer repayment terms, as permitted under the Climate Change Sector Understanding (CCSU). “The modernisation package agreed by Participants to the Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits is a great milestone to help increase the impact of trade and finance flows on securing our climate objectives,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said. “It will allow the scaling up and a better targeting of public and private finance to support climate-friendly investments and help us meet our global net zero emissions objective.” This reform is expected to come into effect later this year, once Participants complete their formal internal decision-making processes and agree to the new Arrangement text. [As noted in the next What's New article, OECD ECAs have a long way to go to brag about reducing the current $1 to $7 ratio of renewable to fossil fuel project support!]


ECAs of a wide range of OECD countries still finance oil and gas

(Energy Monitor, London, 17 April 2023) All 38 members of the OECD have pledged to reach net zero, with the US and EU in the middle of hugely significant domestic decarbonisation programmes. Yet export finance remains misaligned with the requirements of net zero, directing seven times more support to fossil fuels ($33.5bn per year) than renewables (just $4.7bn per year) on average from 2019 to 2021, according to the OCI. Between 2019 and 2021, OECD ECAs were the world’s largest public international financiers of energy projects. Although China is not subject to the OECD Arrangement guidelines, “a general trend has seen Chinese international public finance eventually follow the OECD guidelines, which also help shape G7 and G20 commitments”, says Nina Pušić, from the NGO Oil Change International (OCI). China’s international coal financing ban, for example, came into effect the same year that the OECD ECAs introduced a similar ban. OECD ECAs (most notably Japan, South Korea and Canada) were the world’s largest public international financiers of oil and gas between 2019 and 2021. Canada has since implemented a pledge made at COP26 to end export finance for oil and gas, but others, including Japan, the US and South Korea, have yet to either make such a pledge or fully follow on through on it. There is a campaign under way from 175 civil society groups from more than 45 countries – including the OCI, the Club of Rome and Friends of the Earth – for the OECD to phase out international public financing of fossil fuels.


DeSmog: "UKEF locks us all into more carbon emissions for decades"

(DeSmog, London, 6 April 2023) UKEF has been accused of “locking us all into more carbon emissions for decades to come” by giving so much assistance to the sector. UKEF, a UK government agency, has provided billions of pounds worth of financial support to the high-carbon aviation sector since the Paris climate agreement was adopted in 2015, DeSmog analysis shows. UK Export Finance (UKEF) has effectively subsidised new airports, aircraft, and maintenance, despite stating that the oil-dependent industry is unlikely to begin cutting emissions “materially” until the 2030s. A spokesperson for UKEF, who did not dispute DeSmog’s findings, said: “UK Export Finance supports British businesses, such as the aerospace sector, to export and grow the economy. During the pandemic, UKEF supported the aviation industry with £7.4 billion to safeguard the industry and jobs. “UKEF is working with aerospace customers to help decarbonise the sector. This year we are setting a decarbonisation target for our aviation exposures to help deliver our pledge to net zero transition by 2050. Over half the financial support provided by UKEF since the landmark climate accord has gone to aviation, with Rolls Royce, Airbus, Boeing, and British Airways taking the lion’s share. UKEF offers a range of loans, insurance and guarantees to help British companies secure business abroad. Just one of the 62 deals supported, listed in the agency’s annual reports, came with any climate-related conditions attached. Aviation accounts for the majority of the greenhouse gas emissions currently generated by UKEF’s finance, according to its latest estimate: 8.2 million tons, equivalent to putting 1.8 million petrol-powered cars on the road. DeSmog has previously reported on the significant donations made by aviation-linked individuals and companies to political parties, particularly the Conservatives. Airbus gave a total of £35,000 to the Tories between 2015 and 2018, according to official records, though there is no suggestion that the UKEF financing was influenced by any of the donations.


FOE investigates EXIM fossil fuel influence peddling in Alaska carbon bomb

(Friends of the Earth, Washington, 13 April 2023) Friends of the Earth has filed an open records request of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), the state entity developing the Alaska LNG Project–a proposed $38.7 billion LNG project with a potential carbon footprint of 2.7 billion metric tons of CO2, ten times the climate pollution of the recently approved Willow Project. The Alaska LNG Project is already angling for significant federal subsidies. A provision snuck into the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) makes the project potentially eligible for a $25.6 billion loan guarantee. The project was also “provided official correspondence” that it will receive a Letter of Interest from the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM), the export credit agency of the US. Thanks to its new Make More in America Initiative, passed in 2022 and widely seen as benefiting LNG developers, EXIM can now finance domestic projects like Alaska LNG as well as international ones. Hopefully the Biden Administration isn’t about to greenlight another carbon bomb,” said Lukas Ross, Program Manager at Friends of the Earth. A story about two former fossil fuel executives shaping climate policy seems like something out of the Trump Administration.”


Export Finance Australia (EFA) can no longer justify fossil fuel funding

(Lowy Institute, Sydney, 6 April 2023) Since 2009 EFA has helped to underwrite global heating by providing roughly AU$1.69 billion to fossil fuel firms, while offering a relatively paltry AU$20 million for renewable energy projects. Last year, many of Australia’s key allies signed the so-called Glasgow Statement, which commits signatories to ending public support for international fossil fuel projects. The reasoning was clear: continuing to use taxpayer dollars to underwrite new oil, gas and coal projects, such as coal-fired power plants, is inconsistent with the 1.5°C warming limit and goals of the Paris Agreement. Our ECA research suggests this pattern of lending is likely a result of interrelated pressures from large, politically influential exporting firms that argue EFA’s support is critical for the Australian economy, and national security concerns about the future of Australia’s energy security. However, these arguments no longer stack up. First, fossil fuel firms that benefit from billions in EFA support are among Australia’s largest and most profitable corporations; second, ending public financial support for the export of coal and gas will not prevent the sector from maintaining energy security necessary to power the country’s economy and third, and related, if Australia is to be a renewable energy superpower as the PM has declared, Canberra can ill afford to delay supporting renewables industries.


ECAs to play significant role in securing Europe’s critical materials

(Global Trade Review, London, 23 April 2023) Export credit agencies (ECAs) are set to play a vital part in the EU’s Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA), introduced to help secure supplies of metals and minerals needed for the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy.The act is part of the EU’s bid to minimise the effect of rocketing prices and supply chain disruptions in the wake of Russia’s war with Ukraine and the pandemic, as well as to mitigate its reliance on a small number of countries, including China, for access to minerals and metals essential to the production of more environmentally friendly energies.It also intends to set up an EU export credit facility and a critical raw materials “club” aimed at all countries interested in strengthening global supply chains. The EU’s list of critical raw materials includes nickel, lithium, aluminium, cobalt and graphite, which are crucial for technologies such as solar photovoltaic panels and electric vehicles. Major investment is required to set up upstream, midstream and downstream operations in Europe.


UK export credit agency gains £10bn in additional financing

(Institute of Export & International Trade, London, 4 April 2023) UK Export Finance (UKEF) has been granted an extra £10bn of capacity to support UK businesses selling overseas. According to a press statement, this brings the total cap on its financial exposure to £60bn and adds extra capacity to the agency’s work supporting UK exporters. UKEF says it provided £7.4bn in financing in the 2021-22 financial year, which supported 72,000 jobs in the UK. The government credit agency also states that, as part of its renewed focus on combatting climate change, the additional capability will help it focus on building long-term, sustainable growth.


Russians urging greater EXIAR engagement with Africa

(Weekly Blitz, Dhaka, 29 April 2023) Russia’s weak economic presence in Africa has become a significant question of concern for some experts as they wonder why the nation is not aggressive with this like its ally, China. Smaller countries, such as Turkey, are visibly broadening their economic influence, strengthening business investments and so are a number of Gulf States. “It is important for us to expand and improve competitive government support instruments for business. Senator Igor Morozov, a member of the Federation Council Committee on Economic Policy and Chairman of the Coordinating Committee on Economic Cooperation with Africa stressed: "It is obvious that over the thirty years when Russia left Africa, a number of countries such as China, India, the United States and the European Union have significantly increased their investment opportunities there in the region”. The meeting collectively acknowledged Africa as a huge continent that still requires economic development. Its active demographic growth and abundance of natural resources offer conditions to become the world’s biggest market in the next few decades. Nikita Gusakov, Head of the Russian Export Credit and Investment Insurance Agency (EXIAR), reiterated that Africa was a priority for the agency, outlining a number of deals that EXIAR has been involved in on the continent. He reiterated at the meeting, one of the roadblocks is the lack of adequate knowledge among Russian companies about the opportunities available in Africa. It is partly due to limited interaction with the private sector actors and civil society. During the Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Chinese President Xi Jinping said: “China will expand cooperation in investment and financing to support sustainable development in Africa. China provided $60 billion of credit line to African countries to assist them in developing infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and small and medium-sized enterprises.” Russia could consider the Chinese model of financing various infrastructure and construction projects in Africa. Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum (RAPF) agreed during a recent meeting that lack of financial support was the major reason for Russia’s weak economic footprints across Africa. The representatives leading Russian companies and banks, in attendance, discussed an effective system of financing projects and supporting investment in Africa.


Italian credit agency SACE to allocate additional USD 1.1bn for Ukraine

(Euromaidan Press, Kiev, 26 April 2023) In addition to the previously announced €500 million ($522 million), the Italian Export Credit Agency SACE will allocate an additional €1 billion ($1.1 billion) to support trade and financial operations. This is a highly important signal for Italian business, as reported by Interfax-Ukraine, referencing the statement by Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal during the briefing in Rome.During his meeting with Prime Minister Shmyhal, Italian President Sergio Mattarella advocated for Ukraine’s swift EU accession.


SINOSURE pulls out of Nigerian AKK pipeline funding

(Guardian.NG, Abuja, 19 April 2023) Financiers of the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano pipeline have pulled out of the project, citing an alleged 570% inflated contract sum, far above global threshold. Infrastructure and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Infrastructure Bank of China and China Export Credit Agency (SINOSURE) – were to provide 85% or $2.38 billion of the funding requirement. Their Nigerian counterparts, Oilserve and Oando, are to shoulder the balance 15% or $420 million. With this development, the project has been stalled, as there is no funding to cover cost of the second and third legs from Abuja to Kaduna and Kaduna to Kano. It was learnt that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), through the Nigeria Gas Transport Processing Company (NGTPC), had attempted to bridge the funding gap, but lacked the needed liquidity.  Globally, the cost of high-pressure transmission gas pipelines is built at $800,000 per kilometre. In Nigeria, the Final Investment Decision (FID) for EPC was scheduled at $4,560,260 million, which is a 570% inflation above global standards.These examples clearly show that Nigeria has the highest cost of contract in the world. These companies cannot afford to go into cahoots with Nigerians because they would be easily caught when they submit their financial reports to their countries of origin.”


COPE to investigate corruption charges against Sri Lanka ECA General Manager

(Island Online, Sri Lanka, 9 March 2023)The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has proposed that a three-member committee be appointed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance to investigate corruption charges levelled against the General Manager of the Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation (SLECIC). The recommendation came following a revelation made during a recent COPE meeting about several accusations of corruption being made against the SLECIC General Manager, Dilruk Ranasinghe.
Speaking in this regard, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Attorney-at-Law Madhura Withanage stated that Ranasinghe should currently be ‘behind bars or in police custody’. He accused Ranasinghe of fraudulently obtaining funds from SLECIC for his personal vehicular expenses, amongst other accusations, adding that he has also received information that Ranasinghe had  defrauded the company by issuing fake bills. Accordingly, COPE recommended that a committee be appointed to investigate these accusations and that the relevant report be submitted within three weeks.


Five decades later, UKEF-backed Iran missiles deal lands in court

Global Trade Review, London, 17 April 2023) UKEF is suing BAE Systems, one of its biggest clients, over contracts for the supply of missiles to Iran in the 1970s. The UK’s export credit agency is trying to recover £13.9mn it paid to the defence and aerospace giant in the 1980s, under three export credit insurance policies issued between 1973 and 1977. A trial is set for London’s High Court on May 8. The government guaranteed contracts for the supply of weapons, spares and maintenance for BAC’s Rapier surface-to-air missile systems to Iran, then led by the Western-backed autocrat Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. In around 1980, BAC called on the guarantees due to “their Iranian counterparty’s non-performance” under the contracts, according to UKEF’s statement of claim in the case. The document does not describe the reason the contracts fell apart but in 1979 the Shah was overthrown by a popular uprising that became the Islamic Revolution, and was replaced by a clerical regime hostile to the UK.


Export Credit Norway (ECN) covers 85% of Hungarian missile system purchase

(Daily News, Budapest, 22 April 2023) Hungary buys high-tech Norwegian missile system A 21st-century high-tech Norwegian missile system, NASAMS, Hungary is getting from Kongsberg, Norway’s premier supplier of defence and aerospace-related systems, will reinforce the country’s air defence from this year, Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said in Kongsberg. The NASAMS system is expected to be inaugurated in Hungary in August, the ministry said. Hungary signed the contract on the NASAMS system in November 2020. In March 2021, the country signed a financing agreement with Export Credit Norway (ECN) and the Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency (GIEK) that will cover 85 percent of the 410 million euros cost of the NASAMS. The NASAMS, used widely among NATO members, will replace Hungary’s more than 40-year-old Soviet missile system, MTI wrote.


Angolan food production plant supported by Deutsche Bank and SACE

(Trade Finance Global, London, 17 April 2023) Today, Deutsche Bank and SACE announced the close of a €57 million, 10-year lending facility in support of local food production in the Republic of Angola. This facility was guaranteed by SACE, the Italian Export Credit Agency (ECA), and Desenvolvimento de Angola (BDA). The facility will be used to fund an export contract with the Italian company, Andreotti Impianti Spa, and Carrinho Empreendimentos SA, a local Angolan company for the supply of a fully automated soybean and sunflower crushing plant. Located in Lobito, the plant will be the largest of its kind in Africa, with a throughput capacity of up to 4,000 tonnes of soybeans or 2,400 tonnes of sunflower seeds per day. Construction of the soybean and sunflower crushing plant will take approximately two years and is expected to create around 300 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs related to soybean and sunflower planting.


Chinese & foreign banks & ECAs bolster Belt & Road Initiative

(China Daily, Beijing, 11 April 2023) Some of China's large State-owned commercial banks and foreign lenders have continuously consolidated the Belt and Road Initiative and expanded into new areas of business to align with China's new development pattern and advance the country's high-level opening up. As of the end of last year, the bank had followed up on more than 900 corporate credit granting projects in BRI-involved countries and regions, with total credit exceeding $269 billion. Between 2015 and 2019, BOC issued five series of BRI-themed bonds in seven currencies. The total amount was equivalent to $14.5 billion. China Construction Bank, as of the end of last year, had supported 342 projects in 60 BRI countries and regions, with a total financing quota of more than $50 billion. In addition, the outstanding balance of its international business guarantees reached $17 billion, covering projects in 112 BRI countries and regions. Standard Chartered, a UK-based international banking group, has extensive cooperation with domestic financial institutions and corporate clients in BRI countries and regions, said Jerry Zhang, executive vice-chairman and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank (China) Ltd, the group's local subsidiary. Standard Chartered participated in a large solar power project in the Middle East. The contractors concerned were Chinese companies. While some of the financing was provided by the Export-Import Bank of China and the China Development Bank, European manufacturers also contributed to the project, which involved multilateral development banks, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the African Development Bank.