7th June, 2000
By using taxpayers' money to back environmentally-destructive projects around the world, ECAs are lining the pockets of multinational companies at the expense of the planet. Export credit agencies, explains Simon Retallack, are the worlds largest public financiers of environmental destruction.
As more and more people join the international campaign against corporate globalisation and its most visible global icon – the World Trade Organisation – they would do well to note that an entity lurks in most of their own countries that is just as destructive. Like the WTO, it pursues a corporate agenda, operates in secrete, tramples on peoples rights, and ravages the environment. The difference is that it is using billions of public money to do so and is getting away with it. The entity in question is an Export Credit Agency (ECA).
Most industrialised countries have at least one ECA, mainly operating as an official branch of government. Their principal function is to promote corporate exports and investments abroad. By providing tax-payer-backed loans, guarantees and insurance, ECAs enable national companies to conquer export markets and secure new investments in developing countries and emerging economies.
Together, ECAs are the worlds largest public finance institutions supporting private sector projects, subsidising more than 10 per cent of world trade. The volume of the financial assistance they provide collectively exceeds that of the World Bank and all the other multilateral and bilateral...
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