Resources: 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.

63 results
Ruling places BP in breach of its loan agreements, say campaigners

9 March 2011

A BP-led consortium is breaking international rules governing the human rights responsibilities of multinational companies in its operations on the controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the UK Government ruled today.

Evidence from The Corner House
The Corner House

3 December 2010

The Export Credits Guarantee Department should target its support towards small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that contribute to long-term, sustainable job creation and tax revenues in the UK. It should support low-carbon technologies instead of fossil fuel projects, such as oil pipelines and gas fields. It should reinstate immediately its environmental and social screening procedures, which were so significantly weakened in May 2010 that ECGD could now support projects using child and forced labour.

ECGD destroyed records that would confirm one way or the other

5 November 2010

Under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, commercial confidentiality cannot be used by corporations as a reason for refusing to supply the names of their agents when requested by competent authorities. This ruling by the UK government was issued in November 2010, six years after The Corner House first submitted a Complaint against BAE, Rolls Royce and Airbus.

ECGD's role in promoting exports and credit to SMEs
The Corner House

24 September 2010

This Corner House submission to a Parliamentary Inquiry on "Government Assistance to Industry" (and on "Rebalancing the Economy") looks at how the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) promotes exports and supplies credit to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

ECGD's assessment of Petrobras P-52 oil production platform

1 July 2010

A UK government department is underwriting loans taken out by the Brazilian state-run energy company, Petrobras, for an offshore oil production platform operating in the Atlantic Ocean in even deeper waters than those in the Gulf of Mexico where BP's exploration well is spewing forth oil after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank in April this year.

The Corner House and Samata

30 April 2010

Lawyers acting for The Corner House and Indian group Samata requested a Judicial Review of the decision by the UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) effectively scrapping its absolute ban on providing financial support to projects overseas involving "harmful" child labour and forced labour. ECGD stated in response that it does not have to consider whether its support contributes to human rights abuse, because it "does not owe obligations to persons outside the jurisdiction of the UK".

The Corner House announces proposed court action
The Corner House

12 April 2010

On 1 April 2010, a UK government department, the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), scrapped its absolute ban on supporting projects overseas that involve child labour and forced labour. Lawyers acting for The Corner House have written to ECGD's Chief Executive stating their intention to challenge the new policy in the courts. They argue that for ECGD to provide UK, taxpayer-backed, support for forced labour would breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Refinancing through GEFCO raises questions about ECGD's financial losses

23 March 2010

In March 2010, The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) submitted a complaint to the European Commission alleging that the UK gives unlawful state aid to GEFCO, a special purpose vehicle used by the UK's export credit agency, the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), to refinance its loss-making interest-rate support scheme provided to UK exporters. After much correspondence, it emerged in March 2011 that the complaint should have been directed at the companies receiving the support rather than at GEFCO itself and should have cited a different clause in the WTO's Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. The groups will submit a new complaint on this basis.

NGO submissions and correspondence
The Corner House and others

3 March 2010

In December 2009, the UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) announced a public consultation on proposed revisions to its Business Principles, including wide-ranging changes to its environmental, social and human rights safeguard policies and its anti-bribery and corruption measures. The Corner House and others submitted a joint response detailing the potentially signficiant negative impacts triggered by the proposed changes to policies on child labour and forced labour, greenhouse gas accounting, transparency, anti-bribery and financial risks.

Peter Marshall, Newsnight

29 May 2009

BBC2 Television's Newsnight current affairs programme summarised its 8 minute broadcast: "In 2006, the British government scotched a serious fraud investigation into BAE's biggest deal, with Saudi Arabia. Now, Peter Marshall [Newsnight presenter] reveals that the company may have returned the favour. It has stopped a billion pound insurance contract which tied the government to the Saudi business." Information about stopping the insurance contract came to light as a result of legal correspondence between The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade with the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department.

The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade

29 May 2009

BAE Systems, the UK's largest arms company, has cancelled all its public insurance for its controversial arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The company's decision came to light as a result of legal correspondence between The Corner House/Campaign Against Arms Trade with the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) and subsequent parliamentary questions tabled by Vince Cable MP. By cancelling its insurance, BAE has let the ECGD off the hook from possible legal action over its support for the Saudi deals.

Nicholas Hildyard

13 April 2009

The UK Government is using emergency powers to amend the Export and Investment Guarantees Act 1991 governing the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), so that exporting companies can apply for insurance after they have started constructing their overseas projects (such as oil and gas pipelines, hydroelectric dams and power plants). The amendments would enable companies to circumvent the Department's human rights, environment and sustainable development safeguards.

following up OECD Phase2bis report
solicitors Leigh Day & Co, and Export Credits Guarantee Department

30 March 2009

This exchange of letters between the UK's export credit agency and lawyers acting for The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade revealed that BAE Systems had cancelled all its public insurance for its arms sales to Saudi Arabia with effect from 1 September 2008. These sales have been underwritten by the agency for more than two decades and accounted for half its portfolio.

ECGD did not assess human rights impacts of conflict risks

26 August 2008

The route of the BTC pipeline from Armenia through Georgia to Turkey passes in or near seven existing conflict zones, including South Ossetia and Armenia. The Corner House raised this issue with the UK’s export credit agency, ECGD, the National Audit Office and the Environmental Audit Committee of the UK Parliament.

Memorandum to Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry
The Corner House

1 July 2008

On 13 May 2008, the UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry into the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) and Sustainable Development to reassess the extent to which ECGD takes account of environmental and social concerns in the course of its decisions.

Memorandum from The Corner House to the Environmental Audit Committee
The Corner House

30 June 2008

This Corner House submission to a 2008 inquiry by the Environmental Audit Committee into the UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department and Sustainable Development critiqued the ECGD's decision-making procedures concerning sustainable development; its inadequate Business Principles and need for a proactive approach; its due diligence and monitoring; information disclosure; and the OECD and ECA reform.

Against the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Sakhalin II)
WWF-UK and The Corner House

15 August 2007

On 15 August 2007, The Corner House and conservation organisation WWF-UK filed papers at the High Court in a judicial review of the UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department's decision in March 2004 to support the Sakhalin II oil-and-gas project off the far eastern coast of Russia.

for the Judicial Review Application against the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Sakhalin II)
James Leaton, WWF-UK

15 August 2007

WWF-UK's 'witness statement' (as part of its joint claim for a judicial review of the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department's decision in March 2004 to support the Sakhalin II oil-and-gas project off the far eastern coast of Russia) describes the project; outlines concerns about its impacts on the Western Gray Whale, fisheries, local communities, and climate change; summarises the flawed process of the Environmental Impact Assessment; and details how WWF-UK eventually learnt about the ECGD's decision to support Sakhalin II by means of a Freedom of Information request.

for the Judicial Review Application against the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Sakhalin II)
Nicholas Hildyard, The Corner House

15 August 2007

The Corner House's 'witness statement' (as part of its joint claim with WWF-UK for a judicial review of the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department's decision in March 2004 to support the Sakhalin II oil-and-gas project off the far eastern coast of Russia) summarises The Corner House's monitoring over several years of the ECGD's environmental, human rights and development policies; its engagement with ECGD on the Sakhalin II project since November 2002; and its concerns about the March 2004 decision.

over Sakhalin II oil-and-gas project
WWF-UK and The Corner House

15 August 2007

On 15 August 2007, WWF and The Corner House filed for a judicial review of a legally-binding, but until recently undisclosed, decision in March 2004 by the UK Government's Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) to support the Sakhalin II oil-and-gas project off the far eastern coast of Russia.

ECGD's case impact screening

31 July 2007

ECGD released in July 2007, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, its impact assessment of the Jindal Vijayanagar, Steel plant in India to which it had given support in 2005.

ECGD

20 May 2007

ECGD responded to a request under the Environmental Information Regulations for ECGD's information on monitoring the Sakhalin II oil and gas project.

2 May 2007

In 2007, the UK's export credit agency, ECGD, released documents indicating that it had classified a nuclear power plant in South Korea (for which it gave support in 2005) as having "low potential impacts"; this classification meant that the project did not require ECGD to carry out a more detailed impact assessment before giving support.

Report of Fact Finding Mission to Iraq, 29 March 2007
The Corner House and Kurdish Human Rights Project

25 April 2007

In March 2007, the export credit agencies (ECAs) of Austria, Germany and Switzerland approved financial guarantees for the proposed Ilisu Dam on the River Tigris in the Kurdish region of Southeast Turkey. They stated that Turkey had provided the two downstream countries, Syria and Iraq, with the information these countries had sought about the Dam, and that Iraq had agreed to the project. Neither claim is true, according to Iraq's Minister of Water. By approving funding before Iraq and Syria had been consulted, the ECAs could be in violation of international law.

Simon Clark and Stephen Voss

1 February 2007

This Bloomberg Markets article describes the allegations by BP consultant Derek Mortimore that the engineering company contracted to monitor the BTC oil pipeline has no experience in pipeline corrosion work.

How Rich Country Export Credit Agencies Facilitate Corruption in the Global South
The Corner House

1 May 2006

The Corner House interviewed by the US magazine, Multinational Monitor, on export credit agencies and corruption.

Assessment Against ECGD Policies on Project Acceptability
The Corner House, Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), WWF-UK

26 April 2006

Any ECGD support for the Anglo-Dutch petrochemical multinational Shell to develop two oil and gas fields off Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East would breach international guidelines and conflict with the UK's sustainable development commitments and its international environmental obligations.

The evidence so far from the OECD Working Group on Bribery Phase 2 reviews
Susan Hawley for ECA-Watch

28 February 2006

The OECD's Working Group on Bribery regard export credit agencies (ECAs) as essential to combating bribery and believe that ECA procedures to do so could be significantly improved. The Group's reviews of various OECD countries emphasise the importance of ECAs having proper procedures in place to detect and report bribery suspicions to law enforcement agencies, and to exclude companies convicted of corruption from further export credit support.

Request to ECGD for information regarding BTC oil pipeline

13 December 2005

ECGD released some information related to the coating on the BTC oil pipeline in response to a Corner House information request. 

21 November 2005

The Common Terms Agreement, signed between the public sector lenders to the BTC oil pipeline project and the BP-led consortium building it, includes the environmental and social conditions to which the consortium agreed to adhere.

The Corner House

21 October 2005

On 21st October 2005, the ECGD announced its provisional response to the public consultation on its anti-corruption procedures. The ECGD proposes to take some steps towards re-strengthening its procedures, but has still stopped short in some key areas.

The Case for Strengthened Standards
Nicholas Hildyard, The Corner House, UK; and Eliah Gilfenbaum, Environmental Defense, USA

27 September 2005

This paper documents new subsidies that ECAs may give for large dams; evaluates the accompanying standards that ECAs may require for dam projects; and identifies future ECA actions if funding for dams is not to have negative environmental and social impacts.

How export credit agencies are offering new subsidies for destructive projects under the guise of environmental protection
ECA-Watch

27 September 2005

Northern governments may grant more export credits for large dams by classifying them as "renewable energy". This report details the negative impacts of five large dams and one water privatisation scheme financed with export credits.

The Agenda for 2005
Dr Susan Hawley

22 June 2005

This submission to the EU Council Working Group on Trade details how the OECD Action Statement on Combating Bribery in Officially Supported Export Credits should be strengthened and how European Export Credit Agencies should improve their anti-bribery procedures. It was prepared for a special meeting held between the EU Council Working Group on Export Credits and NGOs on 22 June 2005.

Dr Susan Hawley

15 June 2005

In January 2005, the UK's export credit agency, ECGD, announced a public consultation into its weakened anti-corruption procedures, introduced following industry lobbying. This submission to that consultation argues that the ECGD should revert to its revised procedures if it is to prevent bribery in the projects that it supports.

A Legal Opinion
Lord Lester and Ben Jaffey

16 May 2005

This Legal Opinion examines the legal powers of the UK's export credit agency, the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), to blacklist companies involved in bribery and corruption. It argues that ECGD would be perfectly entitled to have a firm policy of refusing to provide financial support to companies that have previously engaged in bribery or corruption, provided that it also considered the exceptional circumstances of any particular case on its merits.

Trade and Industry Committee Inquiry into Implementation of ECGD's Business Principles

4 April 2005

The UK Parliament's Trade and Industry Committee held an inquiry into support provided for the BTC pipeline by the UK's export credit agency, ECGD. It focused on allegations that the companies involved knew about safety problems with the anti-corrosion coating chosen to seal the pipeline's joints before it was buried, but did not disclose them to ECGD. Contrary to previous public and parliamentary assurances, ECGD officials admitted to the inquiry that the coating had not been properly tested and it was being used for the first time.

Memorandum from The Corner House
Dr Susan Hawley

25 February 2005

At the beginning of 2005, the UK Parliament's Trade and Industry Select Committee conducted an inquiry into the UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD). During its inquiry, it interviewed the Government Minister responsible for the ECGD about the Department's watering down of its anti-bribery procedures following industry lobbying. In March 2005, the Committee published a report, Implementation of ECGD's Business Principles, that was highly critical of the changes the Department had made to its procedures. This document is The Corner House's submission to the Committee's inquiry.

The Corner House

25 January 2005

In December 2004, The Corner House began legal proceedings against the Export Credits Guarantee Department, claiming it had weakened its anti-corruption rules after consulting corporations only. It was awarded the first-ever full "protective costs order" to challenge the changed rules: The Corner House would not have to pay the Department's legal costs, even if it lost, because the challenge was in the public interest.

13 January 2005

In December 2004, The Corner House instituted legal proceedings against the UK's Secretary of State for Trade and Industry as the government minister responsible for the Export Credits Guarantee Department.

Confirmation of conditional support
Export Credits Guarantee Department

4 March 2004

In response to a Freedom of Information request from The Corner House, the UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) released a letter it had written on 4 March 2004 to the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company confirming that it had approved conditional support for several UK contracts for the Sakhalin II project.

Export Credit Agencies and Corruption
Susan Hawley

15 December 2003

30. The taxpayer-backed export credit agencies of industrialised countries are underwriting the bribery and corruption of large, mainly Western, companies operating abroad.

A critical review

1 October 2003

The Baku Ceyhan Campaign, of which The Corner House is a part, carried out a detailed study of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Turkish section of BP's Caspian oil pipeline, and found 173 violations of international standards, including the World Bank's own lending policies.

Corruption and the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department
Dr Susan Hawley

1 June 2003

Institutional practices within the taxpayer-funded UK Export Credits Guarantee Department have exacerbated bribery and corruption by Western companies.

Memorandum to Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry
Nicholas Hildyard and Susan Hawley

19 May 2003

This submission from The Corner House documents in detail how the ECGD’s policies and practices fall far short of compliance with the Government’s sustainable development commitments. It makes several recommendations to address the ECGD’s institutional and procedural failures, and to bring the Department in line with the Government’s sustainable development policies and objectives.

Kerim Yildiz, Kurdish Human Rights Project, and Nicholas Hildyard, The Corner House

23 May 2002

Since October 2000, the UK Export Credits Guarantees Department (ECGD) has been bound by the UK Human Rights Act. But many of the ECGD's procedures potentially conflict with this Act.

Recommendations from Friends of the Earth to the ECGD
Kate Hampton, Friends of the Earth

23 May 2002

In 2001, governments agreed that export credit agencies should support the transfer of climate-friendly technologies. Urgent institutional reform is needed if Britain is to fulfil its commitment, argues this presentation at an NGO Seminar on Export Credit Reform held in the House of Commons, London.

Global Witness

23 May 2002

Publicly-traded companies involved in resource exploitation should be required to publish a breakdown of all payments which they make for the products of every country in which they operate.

Romilly Greenhill and Ann Petifor, Jubilee Research

23 May 2002

Export Credit Agencies have created unsustainable debt in developing countries. Despite reforms, arms sales and other ECA-backed deals continue build up debt without contributing to development.

Ann Feltham, Campaign Against Arms Trade

23 May 2002

Arms sales currently take up a disproportionate amount of official export credit support. The Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) and other Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) should end support for military goods.

Barry Coates and Daniela Reale, World Development Movement

23 May 2002

The UK government's Export Credits Guarantees Department (ECGD) supports British exporters. Using public money to support private businesses is only justified if it has a demonstrable public purpose.

Michael Bartlet, Religious Society of Friends

23 May 2002

The ECGD's support for defence-related exports has lost money every year for the past 12 years. This strongly suggests that arms sales are being deliberately subsidised.

Rob Cartridge, Campaigns Director, War on Want

23 May 2002

Protecting workers' rights is central to alleviating poverty. The UK Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) should require all applicants to have policies for achieving core labour standards.

NGO Seminar on Reform of Export Credits Guarantee Department - Seminar Report
Sean Scannell, The Ilisu Dam Campaign

23 May 2002

Summary of an NGO seminar held in the UK parliament to discuss Export Credit Agency reform.

The ECGD's recent record
Susan Hawley, The Corner House

23 May 2002

The UK Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) has a long record of backing corrupt projects. New vetting procedures have loopholes, leaving the ECGD open to charges of complicity in corruption, contends this presentation at an NGO Seminar on Export Credit Reform held in the House of Commons, London.

Recommendations to the UK Export Credits Guarantee Agency
Kirstine Drew, UNICORN, Public Services International Research Unit

23 May 2002

The UK Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) has a legal obligation to combat corruption. But its failure to adopt non-discretionary, transparent procedures is fundamentally flawed, argues this presentation at an NGO Seminar on Export Credit Reform held in the House of Commons, London.

Nicholas Hildyard

20 October 2000

Unless Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) can demonstrate a public purpose, ensured through mandatory sustainable development standards, the subsidies they provide have no legitimacy.

The Final Report of a Fact-Finding Mission to the Ilisu Dam Region
Ilisu Dam Campaign; the Kurdish Human Rights Project; The Corner House; World Economy, Ecology and Development; Eye on SACE Campaign and Pacific Environment Research Center

16 October 2000

The companies that want to build the controversial Ilisu Dam on the River Tigris in the Kurdish region of Southeast Turkey have sought financial backing from the export credit agencies (ECAs) of their countries. In January 1999, the ECAs attached four conditions to be met before they would issue export credits. During 9-16 October 2000, an international Fact Finding Mission of Non-Governmental Organisations from the UK, USA, Germany and Italy went to the region of the proposed dam to assess the Turkish government's progress meeting the four conditions.

A memorandum from concerned non-governmental organisations and parliamentarians
concerned NGOs

31 July 2000

In July 1999, the UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced a Review of the mission and status of the UK Export Credits Guarantees Department (ECGD). This Memorandum, signed by 35 UK NGOs and parliamentarians, sets out proposals to reform the ECGD so as to bring it in line with the stated policies of the UK government on sustainable development, human rights, open government and putting ethics “at the centre” of foreign policy.

A Political Economy of Ethics in the Export Credit Debate
Nicholas Hildyard

2 June 2000

“Moral dilemmas” are not unattached to political, bureaucratic, social and economic interests. They are deeply political and are products of everyday conflicts over meaning, resources and ways of living and power. Who raises a particular moral dilemma and why is thus of critical importance.

Export Credit Agencies, Corporate Welfare and Policy Incoherence
Nicholas Hildyard

30 June 1999

14. Projects backed by export credit agencies (ECAs) are frequently environmentally destructive, socially oppressive or financially unviable. It is the poorest people in the countries where the projects are located who end up paying the bill. With rare exceptions, the major ECAs lack mandatory environmental and development standards, and are secretive and unaccountable.

A February 2004 Sunday Times article alleged that BP knew about safety faults with its anti-corrosion sealant coating for its Caspian oil pipeline, but did not disclose them when trying to secure funding from publicly-funded export credit agencies and multilateral development banks. A UK government minister and officials from the UK's export credit agency gave public assurances that the coating had been used extensively elsewhere on similar pipelines, but subsequently-released documents indicate that it had not.

Between 2002 and 2005, The Corner House and its partners conducted fact-finding missions to areas along the route of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline to gather information about community expectations and opinions, impacts, and the consultation and land expropriation process carried out by the BTC consortium (led by British oil multinational BP) building the pipeline.