What's New October 2020

"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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  • ECAs and Green Recovery
  • Africa and ECAs remain at the heart of big oil strategy despite oil export debt
  • UKEF could support 42,000 jobs annually by 2035 by switching focus to renewables
  • EU publishes 4th amendment to Temporary Framework for state aid to corporations re COVID
  • The natural resource curse in Mozambique
  • EXIM President: Battling China's predatory economics
  • FY 2021 Funds Available for Agricultural Export Credit Guarantees
  • S&P declares Zambia in default after missed debt payment
  • ICIEC signs cooperative MoUs with UKEF and CESCE
  • SACE's Michal Ron becomes the new president of Berne Union


ECAs and Green Recovery

(Christian Aid, London, 20 October 2020) This new report warns that post-Covid stimulus packages are in danger of widening global inequality and pushing poorer countries to turn to fossil fuels, which would threaten the success of the UK’s COP26 climate summit. The world stands at a crucial juncture, as nations choose between restarting their economies using fossil fuels, plunging us further into climate crisis, or taking the opportunity to accelerate the transition to a low carbon world which puts us on track to meeting the targets of the Paris climate accord. Governments of richer, OECD countries, including the UK, must cease all new direct and indirect public support for fossil fuels projects in other countries, including the use of aid budgets and export credits. Instead, aid and export credits should be used to scale up renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access for the poorest.


Africa and ECAs remain at the heart of big oil strategy despite oil export debt

(Energy Intelligence Finance, New York, 30 September 2020) French TNC Total's CEO Patrick Pouyanne has emphasized that Africa will be at the "heart" of the company's long-term energy transition plans. Africa has long been a rich source of cash flow for Total (EIF Feb.19'20). In 2019, the continent generated around $10 billion of Total's $26 billion cash flow from operations, and 30% of its oil and gas production (900,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day). In July, Total and its partners secured $15.8 billion in project financing. The Export-Import Bank of the US and seven other export credit agencies provided loans, guarantees and insurance for Total's Mozambique LNG project alone (EIF Aug.12'20). Meanwhile, the Train 7 expansion of Nigerian LNG is another key African LNG project for Total (EIF Aug.26'20). Train 7, a joint venture between the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and international oil majors Royal Dutch Shell, ENI and Total, will be financed by a combination of NLNG's internally generated cashflows and US$3 billion of debt raised from a broad range of financiers, with the international and Nigerian banks and the DFIs providing US$1.5 billion of debt on an uncovered basis, and the South Korean and Italian ECAs directly funding or covering the remaining US$1.5 billion. An October report from Dutch ECA Atradius notes that the risk of sovereign default is growing across Africa because of higher debt levels and currency risk, with the shock hardest felt in oil exporting countries such as the Republic of the Congo and Angola, where oil accounts for more than 90% of the exporting revenues”.


UKEF could support 42,000 jobs annually by 2035 by switching focus to renewables

(Energy Voice, London, 15 October 2020) The credit export wing of the UK Government could support tens of thousands of jobs in the coming years if it switched its focus from oil and gas to renewables, according to a new study. Research carried out by Vivid Economics, on behalf of the European Climate Foundation, shows that UK Export Finance (UKEF) would create more jobs by supporting clean energy owing to it being a more labour intensive industry. The study claims that, if the ministerial department assumed liabilities for renewables exports to the same scale it currently does for oil and gas, it could support 42,000 jobs in the sector annually by 2035, up from 2,000 today. UKEF came under fire earlier this year after it emerged it pledged $300 million (£230m) to a Total-led LNG project in Mozambique, prompting Boris Johnson to order a review of government guarantees for oil and gas projects. Oil Change International noted that “This report shows that the UK has a clear opportunity to show climate leadership and stop propping up deadly fossil fuels with public money."


EU publishes 4th amendment to Temporary Framework for state aid to corporations re COVID

(Lexology, London, 14 October 2020) The EU Commission has published a 4th amendment to its 19 March 2020 guidance document on state aid in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak (see our blog post). Article 107(1) of the TFEU contains a general prohibition of aid granted by a Member State or through State resources which distorts competition and trade within the EU by favouring certain companies or the production of certain goods. The Temporary Framework was previously amended on 3 April 2020 (see our blog post), on 8 May 2020 (see our blog post) and on 29 June 2020 (see our blog post).The 4th amendment extends the availability of all the measures set out in the Temporary Framework and it introduces an extension of the temporary removal of all countries from the list of “marketable risk" countries under the Short-term export-credit insurance Communication (STEC). As a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Commission found in March 2020 that there is a lack of sufficient private insurance capacity for short-term export-credits in general and considered all commercial and political risks associated with exports to the countries listed in the Annex to STEC as temporarily non-marketable until 31 December 2020. TFX further reports that "certain governments have used ECAs as vehicles to help corporates better deal with the crisis, and some of the amounts involved have been substantial. For instance, a $6.9 billion support package for Fiat Chrysler was guaranteed by Italy’s Sace, an $817 million package for South Korea’s Doosan Heavy industries was backed by Kexim and the Korea Development Bank, and in July UKEF guaranteed £500 million ($642 million) of a £625 million loan from commercial banks for Jaguar LandRover."


The natural resource curse in Mozambique

(New Frame, Johannesburg, 20 October 2020) Do transnational fossil fuel corporations promote defence spending over social investment? A long read about a complex situation where export credit agencies have supported hugh MNC oil and gas developments.


EXIM President: Battling China's predatory economics

(Fox News - Opinion, Washington, 17 October 2020) Kimberly Reed: The latest manifestation of China’s economic aggression is the increasing use of export financing to distort fair and free-market competition. In 2019 alone, communist China provided three times the export financing of the next-largest provider. For Beijing, export financing helps increase its influence abroad as well as promote its One Belt, One Road initiative. Chinese official financing in 2019 totaled at least $76 billion all around the world, all of it designed to further Beijing’s global objectives, and much of it targeted to reduce U.S. economic influence. By handing out money around the world at low-interest rates, Beijing is able to advance its strategic objectives. The goal? Global dominance by 2049. If the U.S. is to combat China’s latest form of aggression, we must step up our export financing game. Enter, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), which can play a central role in leveling the global marketplace for American exporters and supporting American jobs.  launched a new “Program on China and Transformational Exports” to support the extension of loans, guarantees, and insurance to American exporters on terms competitive with the PRC’s. EXIM’s goal is to reserve at least $27 billion in financing to “neutralize” PRC export subsidies and advance the comparative leadership of the United States with respect to the PRC. [How these U.S. "subsidies" fit into the OECD's efforts "to provide a framework for the orderly use of officially supported export credits by fostering a level playing field in order to encourage competition among exporters based on quality and prices of goods and services exported rather than on the most favourable officially supported export credits" is misterious.]


FY 2021 Funds Available for Agricultural Export Credit Guarantees

(USDA, Washington, 5 October 2020) On October 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced availability of export credit guarantees for sales of U.S. agricultural commodities under the Commodity Credit Corporation’s (CCC) Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102) for fiscal year 2021. US$2.5 billion will be available in 2021 allocated as follows: Africa, Middle East, Turkey, Caucasus, Central Asia US$425 million, Asia US$475 million, Latin America US$1.6 billion


S&P declares Zambia in default after missed debt payment

(Agence France-Presse, Washington, 22 October 2020) Ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) declared Zambia's government in default on Wednesday, October 21, after the African nation missed an interest payment. The mineral-rich southern African country has seen its debt surge to nearly $12 billion this year as commodity prices have fallen amid the coronavirus pandemic. S&P noted that half the government's debt is owed to official creditors, including export credit agencies, while over $3 billion or 25% "is owed to various Chinese lenders including policy banks – China Exim Bank and China Development Bank – as well as private Chinese banks."


ICIEC signs cooperative MoUs with UKEF and CESCE

(Zawya, Dubai, 4 October 2020) The Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation with the United Kingdom’s Export Credit Agency (UKEF). The MoU allows for both entities to enter into co-insurance, reinsurance or cooperation agreements to engage in strategic joint projects that support exports and investments from the United Kingdom into ICIEC’s 47 member countries including UAE, Oman and Bahrain – all ICIEC member countries.. The partnership is beneficial for both institutions as they each offer Shariah compliant financing through the provision of Islamic Sukuk and share an interest in promoting and supporting Islamic finance transactions. ICIEC has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Spanish ECA CESCE


SACE's Michal Ron becomes the new president of Berne Union

(TXF News, London, 28 October 2020) Last week the Berne Union (BU) also held its annual meeting, on a virtual basis, and Michal Ron, chief international officer of the Italian export credit agency Sace, was voted in as the new BU president. Outgoing president Beatriz Reguero (Cesce) remarked that her term had been characterised by an environment of unprecedented uncertainty, with the Covid pandemic the most visible manifestation of this. Incoming President Michal Ron has expressed her mission for the term is to increase inclusivity and help bridge the gap between export credit insurers from advanced economies and developing economies. She also wants to further promote open dialogue between OECD and non-OECD members, eastern and western hemisphere institutions, private and public operators, contemporaneously providing a wider platform to emerging market members of the BU. During the AGM members also engaged in a virtual ‘stocktake’ of the state of the export credit and investment insurance industry during the Covid pandemic. While claims activity was said to be currently relatively subdued – $3.3 billion paid in 2020 H1, compared to $3.2 billion in 2019 H1 – many members reported a marked increase in payment deferrals and pre-claim situations and most expected to see Covid-related claims levels rising from early next year. BU members flagged particular vulnerabilities in the transportation sector – especially aviation and shipping – as well as retail, construction and product manufacturing. In a BU survey, 80% of members reported an increase in new demand, most commonly for short-term credit and working capital products. Around a third of respondents indicated that this includes a substantial increase in inquiries from new clients. BU data shows that short-term commitments in the first half of 2020 ($1,644 billion) were marginally down year-on-year, but new cover for domestic risks (largely cover for working capital and manufacturing risks) increased almost 50% in the same time, up to $36 billion in the first half of 2020.