Kinternational trade minister Baroness Symons has announced the further steps she is taking to modernise the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) in readiness for its proposed transformation into a government trading fund.

A package of measures that will help ECGD continue to improve the level of service it provides to UKexporters includes:

  • Introducing an improved country cover regime (see the winter 02/03 edition of ECGD News) under which exporters are being given better information about ECGD’s cover position on countries around the globe: more than four out of five of all markets now have clear cover positions, compared to less than half previously.
  • Streamlining procedures to approve more deals more quickly in line with ECGD’s customer charter.
  •  Developing private sector links with banks with the aim of making larger deals easier to complete.
  •  Restructuring its process for the environmental and social screening of projects to reduce the burden on industry while maintaining the rigour of ECGD’s scrutiny.

To improve transparency, ECGD is continuing to make more information publicly available about its business. ECGD is now publishing details (updated monthly) on its website of its exposure on a country-by-country basis. This is the first time such information has been made available on a systematic basis. From now on it will, with exporters’ consent, provide outline details of projects with potential high environmental and social impacts as soon as an application for cover has been received.
Also released is a study that looks at ECGD’s position relative to other export credit agencies (ECAs) in terms of cover, price, products and environmental impact assessment procedures.

ECGD chief executive Vivian Brown says: “This report shows that ECGD’s offering, like those of its ECA counterparts, has both strengths and weaknesses. We will continue to build on our strengths by concentrating on improving further the quality of our products and the service we offer to our customers.”

Trade secretary Patricia Hewitt has also announced the publication of a report by National Economic Research Associates (Nera) into the costs and benefits of ECGD support to exporters and investors overseas with a written statement to the House of Commons (ECGD Press Notice Ref No: 08/03 refers).