What's New March 2018

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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  • Bombardier-Gupta affair provokes timely public debate on accountability of EDC
  • Report finds major banks ramped up fossil fuel financing to $115 billion in 2017
  • Judge Demands Explanation in Pipeline Lawsuit
  • UKEF seeks new markets at Brexit looms
  • Hermes as a factor in German Turkish relations?
  • Turkish Bridge Attracts $2.8 Billion From Banks & KEXIM
  • Saudi Arabia’s use of ECA finance in Iraq is making Iran nervous
  • Australia moves up defence exporter list
  • Canadian business optimistic about potential in China: EDC
  • New ICC report confirms trade & export finance are not risky business
  • Banking on Energy: The Determinants of Export Credit Agency Energy Financing from China and Japan
  • Italy's SACE plans to back nearly $5bn in UAE projects

Bombardier-Gupta affair provokes timely public debate on accountability of EDC


(Above Ground, Ottawa, 26 March 20188) Ongoing media coverage regarding the sale of a Bombardier jet to the Gupta family in South Africa has triggered an important public debate about the accountability and transparency of Canada’s export credit agency, Export Development Canada (EDC). With Parliament set to review the agency’s governing legislation this year, the timing for such a discussion could not be better. In response to a Globe and Mail op-ed asserting that public oversight of EDC “is not just scant, it’s non-existent,” EDC recently published a statement in which it defends its “exceptional track record,” arguing that it operates transparently, that it is subject to “multiple levels of government and public oversight” and that it welcomes public scrutiny of its operations.

We offer several observations to further this important debate.

Report finds major banks ramped up fossil fuel financing to $115 billion in 2017

(BankTrack, Amsterdam, 28 March 2018) A report released today by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor The Earth, endorsed by over 50 organisations around the world, reveals that in spite of the urgent climate crisis, 2017 was a year of backsliding by private banks. Despite 2017 being the costliest year on record for weather disasters, the new report reveals that banks increased extreme fossil fuel financing last year [US$115 billion], led by a more than doubling in lending to tar sands companies and pipelines.The report provides invaluable data on specific banks and sectoral investments. In our November 2017 What's New, ECA Watch noted that export credit agencies fund almost $40 billion worth of fossil fuel projects each year. (Some of that overlapping as guarantees for private banks.) That is a whopping 12 times more than what they spend on clean energy projects.


Judge Demands Explanation in Pipeline Lawsuit

(WTOP, Washington, 30 March 2018) Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners in August sued Earth First, Greenpeace and BankTrack for up to $1 billion, alleging they disseminated false and misleading information about the $3.8 billion pipeline that’s now moving oil from North Dakota to Illinois, and instigated violent protests while the pipeline was under construction. Greenpeace and BankTrack maintain the lawsuit is meritless and an attack on free speech. The Center for Constitutional Rights maintains Earth First is an unstructured social movement or philosophy, similar to Black Lives Matter, and can’t be sued. However, U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson says Earth First has been a listed plaintiff in three federal lawsuits in the 1980s and 1990s, involving a water project in Arizona, a wilderness area in Oregon and a New Mexico canyon important to American Indians. “If Earth First can sue, it seems to me that it is subject to being sued,” Wilson said in a March 22 order.


UKEF seeks new markets at Brexit looms

(Arabian Business, Dubai, 30 March 201) As the spectre of Brexit looms, speculation has swirled that the European Union’s loss will be the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) gain. British firms have been eyeing international expansion ahead of the country’s departure from the economic and political bloc for some time, and these closer economic ties are now rapidly becoming a reality. The opening of a permanent UK Export Finance office in Dubai is a clear sign of a booming post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the Middle East. In addition to the GCC, UKEF is looking to African infrastructure projects. The UK’s Trade Commissioner for Africa Emma Wade-Smith recently noted that the decision for the UK to move away from the European Union provides an opportunity to re-engage and refresh the way we operate across Africa. “For example, the UKEF has the ability to support infrastructure projects in South Africa (up to £4bn), Kenya (up to £1bn) and Nigeria (up to £750m). British home secretary Amber Rudd recently celebrated the strength and depth of the UK and Pakistan's "shared history" in announcing that UKEF would double its support, allowing Pakistan’s buyers to access finance to source high-quality UK goods and services.


Hermes as a factor in German Turkish relations?

(Handelsblatt, Berlin, 7 March 201) Turkey and Germany recently agreed to try to “normalize” their fraught relationship. Turkey had adopted hostage-taking as an instrument of foreign policy, with Germany being a target. Germany’s response was to reconsider economic aid and export credit guarantees, to advise German tourists against travel to Turkey, and to put weapons deliveries to Turkey on hold. Between 2006 and 2011 Germany had delivered 354 Leopard 2 tanks to Turkey... Nevertheless, there is every sign that Germany is intent on going back to business as usual as soon as possible. One German-Turkish joint venture, for instance, is helping Turkey to construct its own battle tank, the Altay. The German partner, Rheinmetall, will produce the first 100-200 tanks of the 1,000 planned.


Turkish Bridge Attracts $2.8 Billion From Banks & KEXIM

(Bloomberg, London, 1 March 2018) A consortium of South Korean and Turkish construction firms are raising 2.3 billion euros ($2.8 b) from a group of about 20 banks and South Korea's export credit agency to build a 3.1 billion euro suspension bridge and toll roads in western Turkey.


Saudi Arabia’s use of ECA finance in Iraq is making Iran nervous

(Economist, London, 8 March 2018) At a conference in Kuwait last month, the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, pledged $1bn in loans and $500m in export credit to support Iraq’s reconstruction after the war with Islamic State (IS). Saudi interest in Iraq was initially pricked by America, which has been marshalling Gulf support to help stem Iran’s push west. Iraq, under Saddam, threatened to invade Saudi Arabia. More recently, it has allowed Shia militias backed by Iran to set up camp on the Saudi border. In response the kingdom, which considers itself the region’s Sunni champion, is accused of bankrolling Sunni jihadists in Iraq. In 2015 Muhammad bin Salman was central to restoring diplomatic relations with Iraq and last year reopened the kingdom’s borders. He has shifted money from Sunni politicians to more effective Shia ones. Diplomats note the disparity in help offered by Saudi Arabia and Iran, which pledged nothing at the February conference in Kuwait. “Having failed to outfight Iran, the Saudis now want to outspend it,” says a delighted Iraqi official. Meanwhile, EU officials are trying to think of mechanisms to counter potential future sanctions against European companies and banks, the more important challenge is how to entice Iran to remain committed to the nuclear deal, even if Washington withdraws. Iranian officials have been clear that Tehran would only stay committed if it receives enough benefits from staying in the deal.


Australia moves up defence exporter list

(Defence Connect, North Sydney, 13 March 2018) The latest Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report looking at trends in international arms transfers has seen Australia move up to 19th place among the top 25 largest exporters of major arms. News of the move to 19th place comes just weeks after the federal government unveiled its Defence Export Strategy, which outlined its ambitions to become a top 10 major arms exporter. A $3.8 billion Defence Export Facility will be administered by Australia's export credit agency, Efic.


Canadian business optimistic about potential in China: EDC

(Xinhua, Ottawa, 21 March 2018) There are currently over 1,000 Canadian companies doing business in China, more then 600 of them supported by the EDC, the country's export credit agency which offers trade finance, export credit insurance, bonding services and foreign market expertise, EDC's Liew told Xinhua in a phone interview from Hong Kong. China and Canada plan to double their bilateral trade volumes during the decade from 2015 to 2025. China remains Canada's second largest trade partner, second largest export destination and second largest import source for years.


New ICC report confirms trade & export finance are not risky business

(International Chamber of Commerce, Paris, 6 March 2018) The 2017 ICC report draws on information from 22 member banks to present a global view of the credit risk profiles of trade and export finance transactions. It is based on over US$10.5 trillion of exposures and more than 20 million trade finance transactions from 2008 to 2016—constituting approximately 40% of global traditional trade finance flows. The trade finance products in the register are import letters of credit, export letters of credit, loans for import/export, and performance guarantees.


Banking on Energy: The Determinants of Export Credit Agency Energy Financing from China and Japan

(Global Development Policy Cente, Boston, 28 February 2018) ABSTRACT  In a very short period, Export-Import Bank of China (CHEXIM) and China Development Bank (CDB) have become some of the largest Export Credit Agencies in the world. This paper examines the extent to which CHEXIM and CDB behave similarly to Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), their Japanese counterpart in energy loans approval. Utilizing a new database on publicized overseas loans for energy from the two banks, this paper econometrically analyses the determinants of CHEXIM and JBIC’s overseas energy loans in a comparative perspective. Like their Japanese counterparts, the Chinese banks exhibit a certain degree of concern for the recipient’s domestic economy but exhibits risk seeking tendencies as well. Unlike current JBIC energy loans, Chinese energy loans have a significant correlation to China’s growing energy dependence. Contrary to c,laims that China’s ECA is a tool to gain geopolitical advantage; geopolitical concerns do not appear to be a determinant of CHEXIM’s overseas finance. (PDF file)


Italy's SACE plans to back nearly $5bn in UAE projects

(Arabian Business, Dubai, 3 March 2018) Italy's SACE says evaluating nearly $5bn of UAE projects Export credit agency sees its exposure in the Middle East almost triple to $14.7bn since opening offices in Dubai. It said growth is expected to continue in the region as it is currently evaluating new projects in the MENA region worth €12 billion ($14.7 billion) – nearly $5 billion of which is dedicated to the UAE.