Export Credit Agencies

Export credit agencies (ECAs) are public, quasi-public or private agencies that use taxpayers' money to provide loans, guarantees, credits and insurance to private corporations from their home country to assist them doing business overseas.

Such support is particularly requested for projects in the South because of the perceived financial and political risks involved. Such support is unavailable or is more expensive from the commercial, private sector. Where the ECA is public or quasi-public, the loans are backed by the agency’s national government.

The Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) is the UK's export credit agency, a taxpayer-backed government department that provides subsidised insurance, guarantees and credits to UK companies exporting goods and services against the risks of operating abroad (such as not being paid). ECGD has backed a range of environmentally and socially destructive projects -- large dams, oil pipelines and arms sales -- many of which have involved human rights abuses.

The Corner House monitors ECGD with a view to strengthening and improving its policies on human rights, environment and sustainable development. To this end, it has submitted evidence to parliamentary inquiries and Government consultations; made oral and written submissions to international policy bodies, including the OECD’s Export Credit Working Group; participated in fact-finding missions to assess the social, human rights and environmental impacts of projects for which ECGD support has been sought; and undertaken in-depth research into ECGD-backed projects tainted by allegations of bribery.

In 2010, ECGD's operating name changed to UK Export Finance -- UKEF for short. (As a result several weblinks on our site may now be broken. If you find one, please let us know and we'll aim to fix it.)

The Corner House participates in ECA Watch, a network of groups focusing on ECA reform.