The Export Credit Arrangement

Achievements and Challenges 1978/1998

The Arrangement on Guidelines for Officially Supported Export Credits celebrates its twentieth birthday this year. The 'Arrangement', as the Guidelines are usually known, is a unique form of international co-operation: as a 'gentlemen's agreement', it has no formal status in law – and yet it has brought order to the supply of export credits (government subsidies to exporters), thus saving billions of dollars of taxpayers' money. Thanks to the Arrangement, exporters in OECD countries now compete on the basis of quality and price, not according to the degree of support they receive from the state. Progressive improvements in the Arrangement, moreover, have extended its coverage, preventing trade distortion and subsidy in the form of tied aid and unrealistic premium fees.

In this collection of essays, past and present negotiators of the Arrangement's guidelines, Presidents and Chief Executives of export credit agencies, international institutions, private-sector players, economists and others involved with the Arrangement from its earliest days chart its evolution – its inception and progressive expansion, the difficulties encountered and problems solved. They examine the sources of the flexibility that has made the Arrangement so successful in adapting to the changing, globalising world economy. Some of the contributions offer candid insights into the closed world of international negotiations. Others document the response of the Arrangement to the growing sophistication of financial and insurance services. All of them shed light on this increasingly important aspect of international trade.

This book will be required reading for anyone interested in the world trading system and the role of export credits in particular, in the relationship between trade and aid, and in international co-operation in general.

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