Canadian Consulting Engineer

Export credit not as easy for Canadian engineering firms

December 13, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Export Development Canada is supporting a draft policy by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development...

Export Development Canada is supporting a draft policy by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), even though the recommended policy is less rigorous than the Canadian practices. Export Development Canada (EDC) is the Crown corporation that provides financial backing for many of Canada’s overseas engineering projects, including work done by consulting engineering firms.
Three years ago Export Development Canada was asked to adopt polices to ensure that it reviews the environmental and social impact of projects it sponsors
Since 2001 the Canadian agency has to ask any company it is considering supporting on the most sensitive — Class A type — projects to release public information on the environmental and social impacts. The company is asked to publish the information on their web site.
The OECD international rules on export credits are not in line with the above policies, which could mean that Canadian companies are at a disadvantage when competing for overseas projects. For that reason, when the new Canadian environmental review policies were first introduced, Canadian engineering firms raised many objections.
Another practice of EDC Canada that is not required by the proposed international standards, is that EDC must consider the potential environmental effects of the entire project when assessing it before granting financial support. Even if EDC is only supporting the engineering services, it must consider the project’s overall environmental effects.
Despite these differences, EDC is generally happy with the revised recommendations of the OECD Export Credits Group in the areas of transparency, and in how it recommends evaluating the potential environment impacts of projects.
“While EDC would have liked to have gone further,” said EDC executive vice-president Eric Siegel in a press release, “The revisions represent important improvements over existing practices and contribute to the objective of consistency and higher standards within the export credit agency community.”


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