What's New February 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.

If you would like to receive "What's New!" simply add your e-mail to the ECA-Action list at www.eca-watch.org today!

Questions? Email info-at-eca-watch.org

See all "What's New!" updates since 2005 here.

  • SNC-Lavalin case brings public scrutiny to hundreds of millions in EDC loans
  • Ban Ki-moon says UKEF must stop investing in fossil fuels in developing countries
  • Are ECAs liable for funding of slavery tainted enterprises?
  • With new limits on coal but none on oil and gas, EDC’s climate policy misses the mark
  • German banks & ECAs manoeuvre in Washington to temper US Russia sanction risk
  • EDC insured Suncor’s Middle East misadventures
  • Australia’s ECA eyes overseas investment with potential new mandate
  • Jaguar Land Rover seeking ECA funding after huge write-down
  • Japanese and French ECAs to finance Turkey's second nuclear plant
  • Kuwait Conference pledges billions for Iraqi reconstruction
  • Bahrain talking to U.S. oil companies about tight oil deal
  • Finnvera Group’s Board Report and Financial Statements for 2018

SNC-Lavalin case brings public scrutiny to hundreds of millions in EDC loans

(Above Ground, Ottawa, 22 February 2019) Following reports that engineering giant SNC-Lavalin lobbied federal officials intensively in the lead-up to its criminal prosecution on corruption charges, public attention has been brought to the hundreds of millions in government loans the company has received in recent years. The Globe and Mail reported last week that Export Development Canada (EDC) has provided at least $800-million and as much as $1.7-billion in loans to SNC-Lavalin since 2011, when news broke that the firm was under investigation by the RCMP. Some of those loans were approved after the World Bank announced in 2013 that SNC-Lavalin was barred from bidding on its projects until 2023 due to corruption, and after criminal charges were laid in Canada. As we noted in our recent submission to the government urging stricter oversight of Export Development Canada, SNC-Lavalin is just one of several EDC clients to face corruption investigations, charges or sanctions in recent years. (Others include Bombardier, Kinross Gold and Brookfield.)


Ban Ki-moon says UKEF must stop investing in fossil fuels in developing countries

(Guardian, London, 24 February 2019) Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged Britain to stop funding fossil fuel projects overseas, in what he said would mark a test of Theresa May’s commitment to act on climate change. The former UN secretary general said he was deeply concerned that the UK’s export credit agency had provided billions of pounds in recent years to support businesses involved in oil and gas schemes around the world. “These figures and policies are hard to reconcile with the UK’s commitments under the Paris agreement,” said Ban, referring to the international climate deal he forged in 2015 as UN Chief. “The time has come for the UK to change course, in the interests of the whole world,” he wrote in a comment for the Guardian. The UK Environmental Audit Committee is currently investigating the scale and impact of UK Export Finance’s financing of fossil fuels in developing countries.


Are ECAs liable for funding of slavery tainted enterprises?

(20 Essex Street, London, 2 February 2019) A recent UN report with recommendations to advance efforts to eradicate modern slavery has mentioned, amongst other examples, the direct or indirect involvement of a state in the commission of offences via ECA funding of slavery-tainted enterprises. For example, the Guardian has reported that the US Export Import Bank provided $315m in taxpayer-supported financing over the past decade to a company that has supplied equipment to African mines accused of slave labor, human rights violations and environmental destruction. The Eritrean mine is being investigated by a Canadian court.


With new limits on coal but none on oil and gas, EDC’s climate policy misses the mark

(Above Ground, Ottawa, 12 February 2019) In January Export Development Canada (EDC) released a new climate change policy. The policy commits EDC to further limit its coal-related investments and increase its support for clean technologies. It does not, however, put in place a clear path to reducing – let alone phasing out – the billions of dollars of support that EDC provides to the oil and gas sector each year. EDC’s support for fossil fuel companies is fundamentally at odds with Canada’s international obligations on climate change. To address this contradiction, last year more than a dozen civil society groups including Above Ground recommended that EDC phase out its support for coal, oil and gas projects; companies significantly reliant on coal; and companies whose primary business is in coal, oil or gas. We also recommended that EDC commit to achieving a sharp reduction in GHG emissions across its business portfolio. Instead, EDC has renewed its commitment to support carbon-intense sectors, including the oil and gas industry.


German banks & ECAs manoeuvre in Washington to temper US Russia sanction risk

(Reuters, Frankfurt, 8 February 2019) German banks are seeking to blunt any fresh U.S. sanctions against Russia so they can continue existing business with Russian clients, according to an internal briefing paper prepared by a financial industry lobby group. The risk of new restrictions on doing business with Russia has risen since the Democratic Party won control of the U.S. House of Representatives. New anti-Moscow measures could jeopardise funding for a 9.5 billion euro gas pipeline which seeks to channel gas from Russia directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea. "Nord Stream is the elephant in the room," said one person with direct knowledge of the matter. Russian news agency TASS quoted Nord Stream 2’s finance chief Paul Corcoran saying it was in discussions with export credit agencies and wanted to raise around 6 billion euros. Last month, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany sent a letter to companies involved in Nord Stream warning that they could face sanctions if they stick with it.


EDC insured Suncor’s Middle East misadventures

(Globe & Mail, Toronto, 7 February 2019) The federal government paid Calgary-based Suncor Energy as much as $600-million to compensate for Middle East oil and gas assets and income lost since the Arab Spring in 2011. On Wednesday Suncor disclosed in its quarterly financial results that it had received $300-million in “risk mitigation” payments relating to its Libyan operations. This followed a separate $300-million payment linked to its Syrian enterprise in 2012. Although a handful of commercial insurers have offered the product, the Crown corporation is known for taking risks the private sector would never entertain. In the years leading up to 2011, EDC charged a premium of around 1 per cent or slightly less for this insurance. EDC has typically earned around $10-million to $20-million in premiums annually from selling political risk insurance; at that rate, it would take decades to cover Suncor’s claims. Canadians had little way of knowing about Suncor’s insurance policy. Although EDC disclosed most of its financing transactions since 2001, it reveals political risk insurance policies only when the beneficiaries were lenders such as banks. EDC declined to answer most of The Globe’s questions about the Suncor policy.


Australia’s ECA eyes overseas investment with potential new mandate

(Global Trade Review, London, 20 February 2019) Australia’s export credit agency, Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic), could receive an A$1bn cash injection of callable capital, a mandate to finance larger overseas projects and a new name as part of a bill expected to pass in the house of representatives this week. The bill’s initial text highlights opportunities to invest in overseas infrastructure, such as telecommunications, energy, transport and water, throughout the Pacific region and further afield. The bill also includes a new name for the agency — Export Finance Australia. More specifically, the bill notes that the additional capital would allow the agency to continue to finance infrastructure projects in Papua New Guinea, which it described as “one of our most important neighbours”. Efic is currently involved in the PNG LNG project, a US$19bn investment scheme for the commercial development of the gas resources of Papua New Guinea. However, on its current budget, Efic is re-approaching its country lending limit for the southwestern Pacific island nation and it is only able to finance one additional project.


Jaguar Land Rover seeking ECA funding after huge write-down

(Car Advice, Sydney, 11 February 2019) Jaguar Land Rover is seeking US$1 billion in funding after a disastrous fourth quarter of 2018, huge-write downs on the value of its investments, and continued sales struggles in China. According to a report from Automotive News Europe, the Indian-owned carmaker needs to raise US$1 billion ($1.4 billion) within the next 14 months to replace "maturing bonds" and fund the brand's expensive electric vehicle development program. Rather than borrowing from the bond market, the company is looking at bank financing, leasing its assets or tapping into export credit. Tata Motors announcing sales in China were down 35% in the final 3 quarters of 2018.


Japanese and French ECAs to finance Turkey's second nuclear plant

(Daily Sabah, Istanbul, 25 February 2019) Turkey's second nuclear power plant to be built in Sinop under a Japanese-French partnership, will make a breakthrough by obtaining a ground license this year. The plant, which will have an installed capacity of 4,480 megawatts (MW) and consist of four reactors with a 1,120-MW capacity each, will cost $20 billion. The Japanese and Turkish governments agreed in 2013 on the project to be built with a Japanese-French consortium in the Black Sea province of Sinop. The bulk of the project would be financed by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), Japan's export credit agency, and French credit insurer Coface.


Kuwait Conference pledges billions for Iraqi reconstruction

(Daily Sabah, Istanbul, 4 February 2019) Turkey, the top contributor for Iraq's reconstruction with a $5 billion loan, has launched a coordination process to allocate the funds pledged for rebuilding Iraq. During the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, the host country pledged $1 billion in loans and $1 billion in direct investments. Saudi Arabia said it would allocate $1 billion for investment projects in Iraq and $500 million to support Iraqi exports. Qatar said it would allocate $1 billion in loans and investments, while the United Arab Emirates pledged $500 million in investment. The European Union and Australia each promised $450 million and $100 million, respectively. While the U.S. - who invaded Iraq in 2003 - said it could provide more than $3 billion to help American firms invest in the war-torn country. Britain had said it would grant Iraq export credit of up to $1 billion per year for a decade. Iraqi government published a list of 157 projects, for which it sought private investments during the conference last year.


Bahrain talking to U.S. oil companies about tight oil deal

(Reuters, Manama, 26 February 2019) Bahrain is talking to U.S. oil companies with shale oil expertise about developing a huge oil and gas field discovered last year, and hopes to have an interested company by the end of the year. Oil Minister Al Khalifa also said state-run Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) is “a few weeks away” from financial close on funding for the capacity expansion of its existing Sitra oil refinery. Five export credit agencies from Korea, Spain, Italy and Britain, alongside international and Bahraini banks will provide more than $4 billion in financing.


Finnvera Group’s Board Report and Financial Statements for 2018

(Global News Wire, Helsinki, 26 February 2019) Demand for export credits has increased in recent years. At the same time, our need for funding has increased and, in 2018, a total of EUR 2.4 billion was acquired from the capital market. To balance funding and asset management, Finnvera prepaid loans associated with the temporary export credit system of 2009–2012 to the State, amounting to EUR 1.5 billion. Finnvera’s total exposure at the end of 2018 was EUR 25.6 billion, of which drawn guarantees and credits accounted for EUR 12.2 billion. Approximately half of the exposure relates to binding financing offers or agreements that are related to future deliveries by export companies, and thus they do not create credit risks for Finnvera yet. These arrangements typically consist of buyer financing for cruise ships, the delivery times of which are long. In the long term, the drawn exposure will remain clearly below our total exposure. For potential future losses, we have so far accumulated EUR 1.8 billion reserves as the result of our operations.