Paris, May 16, 2002 – Several international non-governmental organisations have denounced in Paris today how the crucial topic of environmental and social reform of export credit agencies has been fully ignored by OECD trade ministers during their Ministerial Council Meeting.

After four years of conflicts on the definition of environmental guidelines for ECAs the OECD negotiations within the Export Credit Group (ECG) reached a deadlock and did not meet the G8 mandate by the 2001 deadline. In particular, an astonishing opposition to adopt binding environmental standards for ECA operations drawing upon the experience of multilateral development banks came from EU countries and caused US blockage of the final agreement. As a matter of fact, in a “reversed-Kyoto dynamics”, US government has already adopted high level environmental guidelines for its ECAs.

While trade disputes on subsidies have been discussed at the OECD, Export credit subsidies are exempted by critiques and discussion, in particular as regards the harmonisation of environmental guidelines for ECAs. According to Helene Ballande from Friends of the Earth France, “OECD governments do not know how to move forward with Export credits reform.They preferred to ignore the failure of the ECG negotiations and just to go on stating the same old rethorics on sustainable development promotion. The OECD lacks credibility as it is incapable of integrating the basic internationally recognised environmental regulations in global trade and investment.”

ECAs are nowadays the main public financiers of energy projects contributing to climate change. They perpetrate environmental devastation and distruction of local communities’ livelihood worldwide. In particular, ECAs remain a clear case of lack of coherence between trade and environmental policies in EU countries. EU export credits benefit few large multinational companies while fostering unsustainable development outside EU borders.

“Commissioner Pascal Lamy – said Antonio Tricarico from a coalition of 41 Italian NGOs – go on ignoring that a lack of European commitment for a deep environmental reform of ECAs is undermining EU credibility vis a vis US on other important trade disputes, in particular when EU advocated for the integration of environment protection in the trade agenda in Doha.”
NGOs have clearly suggested a way out for the current dispute between US and EU on ECA reform while calling for a new round of negotiations on binding sustainable development guidelines for ECAs within the OECD.

“It is time for the OECD to learn the lesson from the past – said Aaron Goldzimer from Environmental Defense in US. A transparent negotiating process opened to civil society groups and involving relevant committees of this organisation with a long expertise in development and environmental issues is needed. This is the last chance to bring a concrete and credible commitment to the World Summit on Sustainable Development at the end of August”.

CONTACT in Paris:
Antonio Tricarico tel 06 22 52 89 14
Helene Ballande tel 06 77 10 71 25