In October the members of the Berne Union (BU) met in Budapest for the annual general meeting. Despite ongoing uncertainty and challenges, the export credit and investment insurance industry was optimistic. Short term trade is growing again and claims remain benign. 

Focus on sustainability

More than 160 participants discussed both opportunities and challenges in the current environment which is still influenced by the COVID pandemic.

Many of the central findings revolve around the topic of sustainability:

  • Climate policy and sustainability have become an important and integral part of the strategy of many Export Credit Agencies (ECAs).
  • Cooperation is becoming increasingly important between the various players of the financial world, in order to be able to act as facilitators who support the implementation of important projects, who embrace innovation and social, health and infrastructural inclusion and promote sustainability.
  • The diversity of business supported by the industry, in terms of both geography and sector, demands a careful and subtle balance between climate considerations and other sustainability priorities, such as energy access and essential infrastructure.

The other topics at a glance:

  • The importance of social infrastructure for economic recovery, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the development of the business environment in some regions is affected by high sovereign debt and political instability.
  • Digitisation as an essential part of customer processes, especially in cooperation with young entrepreneurs and SME.
  • The increasingly proactive role and the high degree of flexibility of ECAs, which was not only evident in the fight against the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Figures for the first half of 2021

The BU members insured in the first half 2021:

USD 1,800 bn short term trade credits
(+7 % compared to first half of 2020)
USD 50 bn medium/long term export credits
(-1 % compared to first half of 2020)
USD 17 bn new investments
(-18 % compared to first half of 2020)

Approximately USD 4 bn in claims were paid out, 50% of it to the transportation sector. Working capital financing and guarantees for internationalization declined by 15% in the first half of 2021 after an increase of 41% in 2020.  

About Berne Union (BU)

The Berne Union (BU) is the international association of private and state export credit and investment insurers. The 81 members together insure about 13% of global cross-border trade. OeKB has been a member of the BU since 1954. In the BU, OeKB represents the interests of the Austrian export industry by, among other things, observing the development of the competition, discussing ideas for innovations in products and processes, coordinating the procedure for joint projects with other export credit agencies and concluding cooperation agreements.