Australia’s Export Credit Agency
We are particularly concerned when projects sponsored by Australian government agencies and statutory bodies, such as the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), endanger people and the environment.
Aid/Watch was one of the first organisations in Australia to draw attention to the lack of accountability and social and environmental standards within EFIC, the role of EFIC in generating developing country debt, the negative implications of omitting a human rights or environmentally sustainable development mandate as the underlying basis for EFIC policy, and the financing of numerous projects with disastrous outcomes such as the Ok Tedi and Panguna mines in PNG. EFIC’S history of funding big mining projects in vulnerable communities that generate suboptimal outcomes for people and the environment is well-documented.
We have published reports such as, ‘Putting the ETHIC into EFIC’, ‘Silent Dealings, Deafening Impacts’, and ‘100 to 1: EFIC’s Gamble with Climate’, from as far back as 1999 recommending that EFIC implement transparent, public guidelines, remove exemption from Freedom of Information Laws, and cease funding for large scale, export-driven resource extraction at the expense of community driven, culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable projects.
EFIC thus far has demonstrated limited accountability for investments that have few environmental or social safeguards, and as such has demonstrated little evidence to have learned from past mistakes by continuing a commitment to the risky financing of large scale resource extraction projects such as the PNG Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project. Given the inadequacy of environmental and human rights standards, and endemic problems with lack of transparency from both multi-national corporations and a lack of good governance in many countries receiving EFIC funding, it is essential for EFIC to engage more directly in ensuring that projects it funds meet international standards through adequate monitoring mechanisms.