What's New September 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.

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  • EXIM finances massive LNG project that will cause climate chaos
  • UK Tory donor gets UKEF backing despite major fraud investigation
  • Paltry Climate Finance Provided and Mobilised by ECAs in 2013-17
  • $1.5 trillion global trade finance gap affecting SDG targets
  • 2017 Report to the U.S. Congress on Global Export Credit Competition
  • Export-Import Bank eyes expanded role with LNG sector
  • Will ECAs and Asian banks join the movement to decarbonise shipping
  • OeKB readies debut SRI bond
  • Iridium lands seven-year, $738.5 million Defense Department contract
  • Austrade and Export Finance Australia help defence companies go global
  • Afreximbank okays $500m for Nigerian manufacturers
  • Abu Dhabi's ADFD launches ECA
  • Iran's ECA Covers $1b Exports in 5 Months
  • India, Russia identify new prospects for ECA led cooperation

EXIM finances massive LNG project that will cause climate chaos

(FOE USA, Washington, 27 September 2019) The U.S. Export-Import Bank’s (EXIM) Board of Directors voted late yesterday to provide $5 billion in financing for a liquid natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique, making it the largest federal subsidy for a fossil fuel project in the bank’s history. This final vote by the board follows a preliminary vote last month and a 35-day Congressional review period. The board’s vote comes as U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) led delegation letters opposing the project. Despite the opposition, EXIM charged forward with this massive fossil fuel project, which EXIM admits will directly emit at least 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. “EXIM’s irresponsible approval of $5 billion for LNG development in Mozambique, despite Congressional opposition, demonstrates how the bank  puts fossil fuel profits above the health of local communities and the planet,” said Kate DeAngelis, Senior International Policy Analyst at Friends of the Earth. “Congress now has the power to end EXIM’s support for fossil fuels if it chooses to reauthorize the agency.” Although natural gas is often touted as a cleaner fuel than coal, when you take into account the leaks involved in extraction, transportation, processing and burning of LNG it is not better for the climate than coal. Yet, the head of the EXIM board, Kimberly Reed, voiced her strong support for the industry. A 2016 Oxford study found that for the world to have a 50 percent chance of staying within internationally agreed limits for global warming, no new fossil fuel plants could be built after 2017.


UK Tory donor gets UKEF backing despite major fraud investigation

(The Independent, London, 27 September 2019) An oil company run by Ayman Asfari, the chief executive of Petrofac, a major Tory donor who met with Boris Johnson, has had a billion pound deal underwritten by UK Export Finance (UKEF) despite it being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. Despite the company being embroiled in scandal, it has secured a £733.5m loan guarantee from  UKEF which is responsible for underwriting the loan which helped secure a £1.6bn contract to develop the Duqm refinery project in Oman. According to Electoral Commission figures, Mr Asfari and his wife have donated £860,450 in cash to the party since 2009. Petrofac’s former global head of sales, David Lufkin, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery earlier this year after offering cash payments to middlemen to secure lucrative refinery contracts worth £4.2bn in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In 2017 the UK Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation into Petrofac relating to suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering. UKEF is not the only ECA supporting this project. The Dutch company Boskalis Westminster Dredging BV received an export credit insurance from Atradius DSB on 15 January 2018 for the “Design, procurement and construction of marine infrastructure and dredging works. Duqm Liquid Bulk Berths project. Port of Duqm, Al Wusta region. The project entails a new liquid bulk terminal to handle the import and export of crude and other hydrocarbons.”


Paltry Climate Finance Provided and Mobilised by ECAs in 2013-17

(OECD, Paris, 13 September 2019) This OECD report estimates annual volumes of climate finance provided and mobilised by developed countries for developing countries in 2013-17. These estimates include bilateral and multilateral public finance, official-supported export credits and mobilised private finance. It is consistent with the outcome of the UNFCCC COP24 on modalities for the accounting of financial resources provided and mobilised through public interventions. Of US$244 billion over 4 years, only 2.8% was provided by ECAs. By contrast, ECAs are one of the largest sources of public financing for fossil fuel projects worldwide, providing billions more for dirty energy than for renewable energy. In so doing, ECAs undercut international efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions including those mentioned above. In 2009 developed countries committed to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 for climate action in developing countries. Insufficient progress in climate change mitigation is driving the climate system into unchartered territory with severe projected consequences.


$1.5 trillion global trade finance gap affecting SDG targets

(Down to Earth, New Delhi, 4 September 2019) A stubbornly high $1.5 trillion global trade finance gap is hampering efforts to achieve the United Nations-mandated sustainable development goals (SDG), especially those pertaining to women’s economic empowerment, job creation and inclusive growth, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The sixth-edition of the Trade Finance Gap, Growth, and Job Survey released on September 3, 2019, is based on responses from 112 banks from 47 countries, 53 export credit agencies from 17 countries and 336 firms from 68 countries. The large market gap for trade finance has affected women entrepreneurs more than men as they face the most rejection while applying for trade finance to expand their operations. The report showed that applications of 38 per cent male-owned firms were rejected, while for women entrepreneurs it was 44 per cent. Once rejected, 60 per cent women-owned firms were less likely to seek alternative finance.


2017 Report to the U.S. Congress on Global Export Credit Competition

(EXIM, Washington, June 2018) This recently "discovered" 77 page report represents the second consecutive year in which the Competitiveness Report focuses on the changes other export credit agencies (ECAs) are making to enhance their competitiveness and the impact that EXIM’s absence from the LT market is having on the U.S. export community. To these points, the 2017 Competitiveness Report contains the following findings:

  1.  Outside of the United States, ECAs are no longer viewed predominately as transaction-oriented, reactive lenders of last resort. Instead, foreign ECAs are increasingly being “weaponized”—specifically organized and equipped to be maximally flexible and proactive in order to incentivize a shift in sourcing or support trade policy, particularly in key industries.
  2. The continued competitive pressure applied by the scale and flexibility of the Asian ECAs, particularly those from China, feeds the “sea change” in Europe among governments seeking to reinvent export credit support as their economies become more dependent on exports for growth
  3. ECAs are using new programs and flexibilities to compete. Prevalent tools include (a) “pump-priming” programs under which an ECA identifies a foreign company that could import more from the ECA’s country and offers these companies what is essentially a line of credit
  4. The change in stance among ECAs is taking place in a marketplace populated by ever-wider participation from other suppliers of commercial financing
  5. As reported by stakeholders, EXIM’s absence has disproportionately hurt smaller U.S. sub-suppliers along the supply chains of large exporters.

Export-Import Bank eyes expanded role with LNG sector

(S&P Global, Washington, 30 August 2019) The US Export-Import Bank could become a new source of support for US LNG export projects working to secure long-term contracts and financing, according to industry officials involved in recent discussions with the bank leadership. Ex-Im Bank Chairman Kimberly Reed met by teleconference with US LNG trade group officials August 21 to discuss ways the bank could help boost the volume of domestic LNG exports. Whether the bank can successfully expand its role hinges in part on getting attention from Congress to keep the bank fully operating past the end of September when its authorization runs out.


Will ECAs and Asian banks join the movement to decarbonise shipping

(Eco-Business, Singapore, 25 September 2019) Three months ago, 11 international banks including Citi, Société Générale and ING signed a framework to promote responsible ship finance called the Poseidon Principles whose framework will tie shipping finance to climate targets that are in line with the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) goal to halve shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Two state-owned Chinese banks, the Bank of China and Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim), are the biggest lenders to shipping, according to Petrofin Research, which monitors the industry. Other major Asian players include the Export-Import Bank of Korea, China Development Bank and even Singapore’s DBS Bank.


OeKB readies debut SRI bond

(Global Capital, London, 5 September 2019) OeKB, Austria’s export credit agency, will go on roadshow next week to present its recently established sustainability bond framework to European investors. BNP Paribas, Danske Bank, HSBC and UniCredit won the mandate and will arrange a series of fixed income investor meetings across Europe, commencing on Friday, September 13. An inaugural bond in the format is expected to follow. A debut euro benchmark sustainability bond in an intermediate maturity may follow subject to market conditions, which will be OeKB’s first ever socially responsible investment (SRI) bond. Under its sustainability bond framework, OeKB can issue green, social and sustainability bonds. OekB has a long-term annual funding requirement of €5bn, comprising two to three benchmark issues, private placements, medium term notes, and issuance in other strategic markets such as sterling and Australian dollars. It has a focus on maturities of up to 10 years. Sustainability Bonds are bonds where the proceeds will be exclusively applied to finance or re-finance a combination of both Green and Social Projects as defined by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) guidelines.


Iridium lands seven-year, $738.5 million Defense Department contract

(Space News, 16 September 2019) The U.S. government signed a seven-year $738.5 M agreement with Iridium Communications for unlimited use of the McLean, Virginia-based firm’s mobile communications constellation to ensures continuity for voice, data, broadcast and other services to Defense Department and associated users. Iridium borrowed $1.8 billion in 2010 from a syndicate of banks through a credit facility from BPIAE (formerly Coface), which it used to finance the purchase of 81 satellites from Franco-Italian manufacturer Thales Alenia Space. The company still owes $1.63 billion under the credit facility. Finalization of the EMSS contract would pave the way for Iridium to refinance the French export-credit loans it used to fund its $3 billion second-generation constellation, Iridium Next, that it finished deploying in January.


Austrade and Export Finance Australia help defence companies go global

(Mirage News, 6 September 2019) Government support for Australia’s defence industries is on the increase, as two government agencies extend collaboration. Under the Australian Government’s Defence Export Strategy , Austrade and Export Finance Australia – formerly Efic – are expanding support for Australian defence businesses. With additional co-ordination and resources from the Australian Defence Export Office, the two agencies are working more closely to help Australian defence companies grow overseas. From 1 July 2019, Efic’s trading name changed to Export Finance Australia.

Afreximbank okays $500m for Nigerian manufacturers

(Business AM, Lagos, 4 September 2019) The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has approved a $500 million facility to enable Nigerian manufacturers take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Benedict Oramah, its president & chairman of board of directors of Afreximbank  said the $500 million facility was aimed at providing financing to Nigerian manufacturers and companies engaged in intra-African trade under the AfCFTA, which implementation begins in 2020. AfCFTA seeks to create a continental trade bloc of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of about $3 trillion.


Abu Dhabi's ADFD launches ECA

(The National, Abu Dhabi, 9 September 2019) Abu Dhabi has launched an export credit agency that will provide guarantees and finance to overseas buyers of UAE goods and services, as the emirate looks to diversify its economy and develop non-oil revenue lines. Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), an autonomous national entity affiliated with the emirate’s government, will own and operate Abu Dhabi Exports Office (Adex), which was established through consultation with the Export–Import Bank of Korea. The UAE, which accounts for about 4.5 per cent of the global oil production, is transforming its economy by strengthening its non-oil exports to generate new revenue.


Iran's ECA Covers $1b Exports in 5 Months

 (Financial Tribune, Tehran, 1 September 2019) The Export Guarantee Fund of Iran covered non-oil exports worth $1 billion in the first five months of the current fiscal year (started in mid-March), head of EGFI said.The figure shows 60% growth in the export credit agency insurance cover compared to the similar period last year, according to EGFI website.EGFI expects to increase coverage to $2.5 billion by the end of this fiscal year [March 2020), Afrouz Bahrami told a seminar on promoting exports during sanctions. According to media reports, EGFI is able to cover export risk to the tune of $2.3 billion or 5% of the Iran’s $40 billion non-oil export market. She ascribed the significant growth in the performance of EGFI to increase in the number of applications for covering risk emanated from US sanctions, diversification of guarantee services, customizing services to make them compatible with expert requirements and rising promotional activity of the fund.


India, Russia identify new prospects for ECA led cooperation

(Elets Technomedia, Noida Uttar Pradesh, 4 September 2019) With bilateral trade between India and Russia showing a robust growth, growing by 17% to $ 11 billion in 2018 alone, Russian Export Centre (REC) is focusing on providing a wide range of financial and non-financial support in order to realize the full potential of the bilateral trade between the two countries by improving export conditions and leveling existing trade barriers. Russian Agency for Export Credit and Investment Insurance (EXIAR JSC) and ROSEXIMBANK JSC, are the shareholders in REC.