Despite the huge disruption, uncertainty and heightened risk environment inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the export credit insurance industry fared relatively well in 2020 and overall new business increased despite a sharp contraction in economic activity, while defaults and claims have remained manageable so far.

2020 State of the Industry Report published

The Berne Union (BU) recently published an industry report for 2020. It contains aggregated business figures for the BU members - private and public export credit insurers (Export Credit Agencies - ECAs) - as well as trends in the industry and upcoming challenges. 

Managed the crisis well so far

Despite all the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it, the 2020 financial year was largely positive for the members of the Berne Union:

  • The total new business of the BU members rose by 2.4% to 2.5 tn USD.
  • The largest share of the new business comes from short-term export credit insurance (payment term of less than 360 days). With around 50% of the total volume, Europe remains the most important target market for short-term export credit insurance.
  • New business in medium-/long-term export credit insurance fell by 22% compared to 2019, as many large projects were cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Claims payments increased by a total of 12%, but the expected wave of defaults and insolvencies has not yet materialised.

Export credit insurers reacted quickly and flexibly

How the claims develop over the next few month remains to be seen. There are indications that a substantial share of COVID-19 related claims may not yet have emerged. The general economic conditions will have an influence on that as well as how the phase out of special measures of government support is handled.

So far, these special measures have been one of the reasons for the rapid recovery in international trade. Often hand in hand with the state, the export credit insurers reacted decisively and flexibly to the crisis last year. Liquidity-promoting instruments for domestic exporters and other newly introduced support have so far successfully contributed to protecting jobs and industry. 

About Berne Union

The Berne Union (BU) is the association of export credit and investment insurers and currently has 82 members from more than 70 countries. The members of the BU, including OeKB, promote cross-border trade. They support exports and foreign investments by covering political and economic risks, often on behalf of their governments. In 2020, Berne Unions's member cover 13% of world cross border trade for goods and services.