Export transactions insured by Sace were worth €1.6bn in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 157% compared to the same period last year, says the Italian export credit agency (ECA).

Sace adds that 68.9% of insured transactions were exports or foreign investments, especially in emerging countries such as Mexico and Russia, Sace’s number one market with €5.2bn. It is followed by Turkey (€1.7bn) and Saudi Arabia (€1.6bn).

The main sectors in which Sace was involved in the first quarter were the chemical and petrochemical industries (40.7%), oil and gas (17.9%) and infrastructure and construction (10.7%).

The ECA says these results confirm its “cyclical role in support of ‘made in Italy’ products in the world”.

It reports net profits of €72.7mn in Q1, up 8% from 2011, while its overall transaction portfolio went up 6.3% to €33.4bn.

Sace was recently awarded an advisory contract to provide Russia’s newly-created ECA, Exiar, with technical consultancy and training.

It was also involved in the world’s largest deal of 2011 – Qatar Petroleum’s US$10.3bn Barzan gas project in Qatar.

In April, the Berne Union revealed a 17% increase in export volumes insured by its members in 2011, reaching a record US$1.8tn, or 10% of international trade. The association says this reflects the growing need for risk mitigation in an unstable global economy.