The Berne Union, the international association for credit and investment insurers, has named Paul Heaney as its secretary general, effective May 1.

Heaney, previously the Berne Union’s associate director, took the reins on a temporary basis in June last year. His predecessor, Vinco David, departed the organisation in January this year.

The appointment was announced at the association’s spring meeting in Brussels, a key forum for export credit agencies.

“Export credit is a fascinating industry with a sizable impact on the real economy and the Berne Union has a unique perspective across this,” says Heaney.

“More than ever today, in the midst of complex economic transformations in which our members are already playing such a vital role, it is a privilege to lead the secretariat of this vibrant association. and I look forward to working with the Berne Union president and members to support this.”

The union also used the meeting to release credit insurance figures for the 2022 calendar year, which showed the industry is steadily recovering from the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Medium to long-term (MLT) business reached US$130.2bn, just 5.9% below 2019 levels, which the Berne Union says was fuelled by a comeback in the Covid-hit transportation sector and growth in manufacturing and renewable energy.

Meanwhile, new MLT business for natural resources continued its decline, with 2022 figures down by two thirds versus 2019 – illustrating the ongoing structural shift towards energy transition.

Short-term business continued to boom, reaching US$2.6tn on the back of expanded activity in the energy sector during last year’s price fluctuations. Growth was also driven by a boost in activity in the Middle East and North Africa “as trade shifted to shorter-term products for this region”, the Berne Union says.

In other good news for credit insurers, claims fell significantly in all categories except political risk insurance, which more than doubled due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Recoveries also rose in all categories except short-term business.

Maëlia Dufour, who was elected Berne Union president last year, says the spring meeting focused on economic recovery as the pandemic ebbs.

“Our industry has demonstrated great resilience and adaptability throughout the pandemic,” she says. “Now, as we emerge from this, we must continue to innovate, in order to support exporters in a new environment for risk, which will present our industry with both challenges and opportunities.”