Cautious optimism at the close of Helsinki meeting

The Berne Union closed its recent biannual meeting in Helsinki Finland on a tone of cautious optimism for global trade and investment.

Core to that optimism has been a resurgence in credit insurance capacity and a levelling off from the surge in claims experienced in 2009.

“In 2009, our members provided $1.4 trillion of credit and investment insurance support, which was a remarkable achievement given the sharp fall in global trade volumes, but at the same time we experienced a significant jump in claims to $5.4 billion. Now it appears that claims are levelling off and we anticipate that business volumes will increase in 2010” said Ms Kimberly Wiehl, Secretary General of the Berne Union.

Discussions at the meeting included a focus on the global economy, with particular emphasis on Europe and specific countries in other regions.

“Berne Union members are acutely aware of the volatile risk environment given our claims experience, but the focus of our discussions has been on addressing ways to maintain market capacity to support our clients, rather than stepping back given the uncertainty” said Mr Angus Armour, the President of the Berne Union and CEO of EFIC, Australia’s export credit agency.

“As credit and investment insurers, we can contemplate stepping up capacity on the basis that the industry globally was able to absorb the increased claims of the past year, which is a testament to our members’ risk management models”, said Armour.

Apart from the volatile risk environment, Berne Union members are watching carefully the regulatory changes that might flow from the global financial crisis.

“An emerging concern for our members is the changing regulatory landscape” said Wiehl. “Proposed changes to capital requirements relating to trade and export finance could have significant implications for our members’ ability to support trade and consequently, for trade volumes and the global economy.”

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