What's New March 2022

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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  • Export credits face Russia sanctions AND the Paris Agreement
  • ECAs slam the door on Russia
  • European Council conclusions on official export credits
  • Berne Union Launches New Climate Working Group (CWG)
  • EDC targets growing demand for ESG financing
  • EDC backed loan to primarily Russian-owned Buhler Industries
  • Indian Exporters Find Themselves Caught In Russia/Ukraine Crossfire
  • Korea Wins US Export Ban Exemption, Shores Up Exporters to Russia
  • Pressure on Japan's energy ties in Russia ratchets up with Shell's Sakhalin exit
  • ECIC Growing Its Footprint In Ethiopia and the DRC
  • SACE freezes loan for Russian Arctic LNG 2 plant
  • Judges split over UKEF funding of Mozambique gas project
  • Korean ECAs sued to stop deep-sea oil pipeline

Export credits face Russia sanctions AND the Paris Agreement

(ECA Watch, Ottawa, 29 March 2022) As governments struggle to find fossil fuel supplies to offset dependence on imports from Russia, and transnational oil firms reap huge profits from higher oil prices and look for more through new projects and pipelines, and families around the world face not only higher gas prices to fill the family car or local buses but also higher food costs driven by dependence on fossil fuel dependent agriculture and manufacturing chains, Export Credit Agencies confront the big contradictions between pressures to not finance global warming and Western political expectations of livestyles and infrastructures dependent on fossil fuels. This month's What's New looks at ECA cuts to fossil fuel projects and ECA support for Russian projects and the war in Ukraine. Requests for ECA investments in Mozambique and East African pipelines face African demands instead for renewable energy projects and rejection of African complicity in looming global warming. For years ECA Watch has documented the billions of ECA investments in fossil fuels. One investment industry source estimates that the cumulative total volume of sustainable export finance deals in the five years to the end of 2021 was [only] $109 billion across 353 deals. They noted that about 20% of export finance deals ($28.6 Billion) through 2021 were classified as sustainable, i.e. 80%, or $143 billion, weren't. And on top of that, the European Securities and Marketing Authority (ESMA) has warned that the definition of sustainable export finance (for example measurement of CO2 emissions) can be subject to greenwashing. In fact one commercial research company in February removed 1,200 so called environment, social and governance (ESG) funds, with a combined $1.4 trillion in assets, from its European sustainable investment lists, after tightening its criteria on ESG tagging, as it believed those funds were not delivering on their stated ESG [Environmental, Social and (Corporate) Governance] goals. The slack monitoring of the "gentlemans' agreement" of the OECD "common approaches" definitions and environmental standards for official ECAs is well known, with the result that pressures are mounting for the Councel of the European Union to act to enforce ECA compliance with the Paris Agreement, since the OECD "disciplines have not been sufficiently modernized" and the OECD Arrangement is "not keeping up with the pace demanded by both changing economic and climate environments".




ECAs slam the door on Russia

(Global Trade Review, London, 9 March 2022) Export credit agencies and trade credit insurers have hurriedly axed coverage for Russia and Belarus as the deepening conflict and western sanctions interrupt trade and major projects. At least 10 ECAs have stopped or limited coverage for the two countries since late February, when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine. Many ECAs have also suspended coverage of Ukraine. ECA exposures to Russia range from the relatively modest A$3mn of Export Finance Australia to the substantial €1.7bn on the books of Austria’s OeKB. Other exposures disclosed to GTR or in annual reports include €1bn for Finnvera, Finland’s ECA; US$453mn for Sweden’s EKN; US$428mn for the US Export-Import Bank (US Exim); and €170mn for Poland’s Kuke. ECAs which may have significant exposures but did not respond to questions or publicly disclose exposures include those in France, Italy, Japan and Spain. UK Export Finance (UKEF) has £49.9mn in remaining exposure to buyers in Russia. UKEF declined to respond on the record but GTR understands the agency’s total exposure relating to Russia is just over £100mn.

https://www.gtreview.com/news/global/export-credit-agencies-and-trade-credit-ins...


European Council conclusions on official export credits

(European Council, Brussels, 15 March 2022) The Council's conclusion underlines that officially supported export credits are key levers in order to achieve priority policy goals for the European Union and its Member States. Such goals include the building of a strong industrial Europe, while ensuring the transition to low greenhouse gas emissions. Officially supported export credits are essential for Europe's global industrial competitiveness as they support European companies in competing for contracts and projects overseas, thereby providing jobs and growth, including for Small and Medium Enterprises, across EU Member States. Officially supported export credits originated by EU Member States are highly regulated, notably by the OECD Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits and EU Regulation No. 1233/201. They note that "these disciplines have not been sufficiently modernized, given the evolution of global value chains and the international competition from non-OECD countries". They further note "that even though there has been increased progress in the negotiations on the OECD Arrangement, they are still not keeping up with the pace demanded by both changing economic and climate environments". While acknowledging "the need to adapt export credit policies accordingly, in an effort to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels", the Council conclusions focus on the goal of a "global level playing field and the modernisation of the OECD Arrangement" with a view to ensuring that "officially supported export credits are essential for Europe's global industrial competitiveness as they support European companies in competing for contracts and projects overseas". ECA Watch notes that this EU position on ending public support for fossil fuels fails to do exactly that. See our statement issued on March 15th.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/03/15/the-council-a...


Berne Union Launches New Climate Working Group (CWG)

(Berne Union, London, 17 March 2022) The group leverages the Berne Union network to connect innovation in export credit with global problem-solving around climate challenges and sustainable development. The ultimate objective of the Climate Working Group is to accelerate climate action in the export credit, trade finance and political risk insurance industries by fostering innovation and promoting alignment around low-carbon transition. The CWG is chaired by EDC's Leah Gilbert Morris, and administrated by the Berne Union Secretariat. Institutions leading the work of the CWG include: AGENCE FRANÇAISE DE DÉVELOPPEMENT (AFD); AFRICAN TRADE INSURANCE AGENCY (ATI); AXA XL; BPIFRANCE; DZ BANK; EDC CANADA; EKN SWEDEN; INVESTEC; MIGA (WORLD BANK); UK EXPORT FINANCE; US DEVELOPMENT FINANCE CORPORATION. [It will be interesting to see whether this is just another greenwashing initiative. Some 1200 supposedly ESG compliant funds with a combined $1.4 trillion in assets were recently dropped by commercial research company Morningstar from its European sustainable investment ratings, which presumably follow EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulations (SFDR). EDC's role as Chair of the CWG would seem compromised by EDC's portfolio, which provided more public finance for fossil fuels than any G20 country other than China between 2016 and 2018, with EDC providing on average $13.8 billion in support to oil and gas companies each year.]

https://www.berneunion.org/Articles/Details/661/Berne-Union-Launches-New-Climate...


EDC targets growing demand for ESG financing

(Globe & Mail, Toronto, 28 March 2022) Canada’s export credit agency is looking to capitalize on the growing trend for sustainable investing, launching a set of new financial tools aimed at supporting socially oriented businesses and helping large greenhouse gas emitters reduce their carbon footprint. Export Development Canada has issued green bonds since 2014, using the proceeds to invest in public transportation and renewable energy projects. [We have pointed out in other articles in this month's What's New that EDC provided more public finance for fossil fuels than any G20 country other than China, on average $13.8 billion in support to oil and gas companies each year between 2016 and 2018. So they have a long way to go to offset their fossil fuel vs sustainability imbalance.]

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-edc-targets-growing-demand-for-...


EDC backed loan to primarily Russian-owned Buhler Industries

(CBC, Winnipeg, 9 March 2022) In December 2020 Export Development Canada — a federal Crown credit corporation — signed a guarantee to back half of a $14-million loan to Winnipeg's 97% Russian owned Buhler Industries to support the company's ongoing operations. The manufacturer of farming equipment, including Versatile tractors, has been under scrutiny since Konstantin Babkin, who resigned as a Buhler director on March 2, made at least two public statements in support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Babkin leads the Action Party, a Russian political party that has supported Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Feb. 21, Babkin tweeted out the party's support of Putin's decision "to recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics" in Ukraine. Buhler Industries has repeatedly denounced Russia's attack on Ukraine. Babkin's resignation did not impact his ownership stake in Buhler Industries, which is 97% owned by Combine Factory Rostselmash. That company is a subsidiary of Novoe Sodrugestvo CJSC, a Russian conglomerate co-owned by Babkin, current Buhler director Dmitry Udras and Buhler CEO Yury Ryazanov. EDC has not purrsued business related to Russian contracts or Russian borrowers since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, Buhler Industries says pulling out of the loan could have a huge impact on Canadian workers, farm equipment dealers and farmers who count on the company for spare parts.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/export-development-buhler-loan-1.6373466


Indian Exporters Find Themselves Caught In Russia/Ukraine Crossfire

(Bloomberg Quint, New Delhi, 1 March 2022) Even before the harshest of sanctions ⁠hit, trouble had started to build for those in India doing business with Russia. On Friday evening, two days after Russia began attacking sites in Ukraine, Rakesh Shah, director at Nipha Exports in Kolkata, received an email from the Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India stating that export credit guarantees for exports to Russia would now be approved only on a case-by-case basis and not as freely as it was before. This was done to account for the rising risk in the region, the government said in a release while clarifying that the cover has not been completely withdrawn. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that India's largest bank State Bank of India has stopped transactions with Russian entities under sanctions to avoid being in breach of them. Nipha Exports has €1,00,000 worth of material to be shipped to Russia and unfulfilled orders worth €3,00,000 up to May this year. With impediments to trade rising, how quickly it will be able to resume shipments and get payments is anybody’s guess.

https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/russia-ukraine-crisis-indian-exporters-f...


Korea Wins US Export Ban Exemption, Shores Up Exporters to Russia

(Asia Financial, London & Hong Kong, 4 March 2022) South Korea said on Friday that it had won an exemption from expanded US export restrictions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Seoul’s trade ministry said on Friday. The exemption means Korean companies won’t have to secure licences from Washington for exports using US technology before they can be shipped to Russia. The US rule, part of Washington’s sanctions on Moscow, was feared to affect major South Korean exporters, as they make heavy use of US technology and software. The move followed meetings between Yeo Han-koo, South Korea’s trade minister, and senior US officials in Washington on Thursday. Seoul unveiled a list of measures to help companies with export records to Russia or Ukraine in the previous year. They include export credit guarantees and short-term export insurance.

https://www.asiafinancial.com/korea-wins-us-ban-exemption-shores-up-exports-to-r...


Pressure on Japan's energy ties in Russia ratchets up with Shell's Sakhalin exit

(S&P Global, Tokyo, 1 March 2022) Pressure is mounting for Japanese companies to review their energy business connections with Russia in the wake of Shell's withdrawal from the Sakhalin 2 project, which accounts for close to 9% of Japan's LNG imports, industry sources said. Shell's Feb. 28 announcement that it was withdrawing from its partnerships with Russian energy giant Gazprom, including the Sakhalin 2 crude oil and LNG project in the Russian Far East, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Jogmec provides an equity financing and loan guarantee to Japan Arctic LNG, a subsidiary of Mitsui, which has a 10% stake in the Arctic LNG 2 project. NEXI provides export credit insurance and export credit guarantees for Japanese companies' energy businesses including LNG in Russia.

https://www.spglobal.com/commodity-insights/en/market-insights/latest-news/oil/0...


ECIC Growing Its Footprint In Ethiopia and the DRC

(Forbes Africa, Johannesburg, 4 March 2022) The Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC) provides political and commercial risk insurance cover to South African exporters of goods and services and to cross border investors. Its strategic focus is on emerging markets in Africa and outside the continent that are considered too risky for conventional insurers. Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are amongst the largest economies in Africa and are therefore key markets for South African exporters and the ECIC.  The ongoing civil war, which started in November 2019, created a highly uncertain environment in Ethiopia. The recent release of opposition political party officials from prison by the central government is a significant step towards a resolution of the civil war. Investments into Ethiopia for which ECIC was involved include a US$12,5 million in a cement plant by South Africa’s Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) and a USD121,5m by Vodacom South Africa in 2021. ECIC provided political risk insurance cover for both investments. The DRC is endowed with exceptional mineral resources including cobalt and copper, significant arable land, and huge hydropower potential. This continues to attract significant investment into the country making it the third largest recipient of foreign direct investment in Sub Saharan Africa. The ECIC supported projects in various sectors of DRC including mining, transport, food, and construction sectors. South Africa can supply capital, skills, machinery, and consumer goods to help the country reach its development potential.

https://www.forbesafrica.com/brand-voice/2022/03/04/the-african-insurance-compan...


SACE freezes loan for Russian Arctic LNG 2 plant

(Reuters, Rome, 1 March 2022) Russia's invasion of Ukraine has prompted Italy to put on hold its share of financing for the $21 billion Arctic LNG 2 project led by privately-owned Russian gas producer Novatek (NVTK.MM), two sources close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday. Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and the Russian arm of Italy's biggest bank Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) had agreed in recent weeks to help finance Novatek's project. The loan was set to be guaranteed by SACE, Italy's export credit agency, which has already insured nearly 5 billion euros worth of projects and investments relating to Russia. SACE also notes that it is temporarily suspending the evaluation and acceptance of new risks for export credit activities in Russia and in Belarus.

https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/exclusive-italy-freezes-loan-russian-arct...


Judges split over UKEF funding of Mozambique gas project

(Drill or Drop, London, 15 March 2022) Two judges have disagreed in what could be a landmark case over whether the UK government acted lawfully in approving $1.15bn financing for a liquified natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique. The case at the High Court, brought by Friends of the Earth, examined the decision to fund the scheme through the export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), approved by the Treasury and the Department for International Trade. The judges’ split decision means the judicial review has not yet succeeded and a court order is awaited with the final result. Friends of the Earth said today it was likely to appeal if the judicial review was refused. The case, which tested compliance with the Paris Agreement, centred on the failure to assess the project’s total climate impact by taking into account emissions produced from the end-use of the gas, known as scope 3. This is thought to be the first time a judge has argued that to be consistent with the Paris Agreement all finance flows must be shown to be in line with the international ambition to limit temperature rise to 1.5C.

https://drillordrop.com/2022/03/15/high-court-judges-split-over-government-decis...


Korean ECAs sued to stop deep-sea oil pipeline

(BBC, London, 23 March 2022) Tiwi Islands and Larrakia Traditional Owners in Australia’s Northern Territory and youth activists in South Korea have taken the South Korean government to court to stop it from financing Santos and SK E&S’ offshore deep sea Barossa gas project. The legal challenge could prevent the South Korean Government from lending some $AU964 million (US$722m) to the $4.7 billion Barossa gas project via its export credit agencies, the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-SURE), putting the financial viability of the entire project at risk. The Traditional Owners argue they have not been consulted about the project - which threatens their sea country and way of life - and therefore have not been given the opportunity to give their free, prior and informed consent for it to proceed. Plans for the gas project include a 300km-long pipeline to be built through their sea country, an area under their legal jurisdiction. Traditional Owners fear impacts to cultural sites, turtles and other marine life that are central to their culture and the local ecotourism industry. Energy giant Santos is pushing ahead with development for the major new gas field off the coast of Darwin, in what it says is the biggest investment in Australia's oil and gas industry in almost a decade.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60828912