Berne Union members’ share of world trade increased to just over 14% in 2017, according to end of year figures.

Trade commerce underwritten by the organisation’s members in 2017 totals US$2.35bn, as per the latest bi-annual report released this week.

The lion’s share of Berne Union members’ business comes under short-term cross-border trade, which amounts to US$2.1bn. Medium and long-term export credits make up US$179bn and investment insurance adds up to US$64bn.

The evidence of business growth spells good news for export credit insurers and the trade economy. On the other hand, the report finds indemnifications were also high, which is music to the ears of insurance holders.

Members learned that they paid over US$6bn in claims through the course of 2017, building on the trends established in 2015 and 2016. The latest figure far exceeds the 10-year average of US$4.5bn, but is still 2.4% lower than the recent peak of 2016 payouts.

Paul Heaney, associate director of Berne Union, writes in the report: “We see that our industry is performing well, and precisely in the way that it should,” despite acknowledging the global shift towards protectionist trade policies led by the US and UK.

One negative is the decline in new investment insurance uptake – the first drop in five years. The report puts this down to a circa 16% fall in FDI flows during 2017, mostly resulting from “a significant decrease in in-flows to developed markets”.

Berne Union members – consisting of export credit agencies, multilateral agencies and private credit and political risk insurers – came to learn of the data at its general meeting hosted by member the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) in Kilifi, Kenya on Wednesday.

In light of the business data release, Vinco David, secretary general of Berne Union, notes: “In 2017, Berne Union members collectively covered trade to African countries for an amount of US$80bn. That is a significant support for the development of this continent.

“In addition, last year Berne Union members also supported US$9bn of foreign direct investment into Africa in areas such as infrastructure, power generation including renewable energy, and mining.”