I just want to object to the very one sided quotes raised in the article published on the news feed regarding ECGD, the UK's Export Credit Agency.
"The UK's export credit agency, the ECGD, operates under a cloak of secrecy, participating in a global race to the bottom on ethics and using taxpayers' money to back business deals which have racked up billions of pounds in Third World Debt."
I work regularly with this agency and they have very strict codes of conduct on disclosure, ethics and the environment which they take extremley seriously. They also comply with a sustainable lending policy which is based upon IMF and World Bank lending criteria and prohibit lending to the poorer countries in the world which cannot afford to take on debt (ie they can only provide financial support to Governments that can afford the repayments).
Perhaps those that have dressed up in maids outfits might like to take a trip to Africa and actually speak to the Governments in question (as I do on a regular basis). In many cases the economic development of these countries is being stiffled by their inability to access credit to finance essential infrastructure projects (eg power, transport, health care) and the only way that such bottle necks can be removed is by securing the cheap long term financial support available from the likes of ECGD to finance the projects. For example, it is simply not possible for many African countries to pay for a power station today in cash, but they can afford to make repayments on a loan over 15 years and they reap the benefits many time over from the increase in economic activity that can be sustained by the availability of the power.
ECGD exists primarliy to help exporters in the UK to secure contracts overseas by removing the blockage that access to finance can create. It is an essential lifeline to many manufacturing companies in this country that have faced an extremely tough recession.
I would suggest next time the London-SE1 news team may wish to get some quotes from those actually speaking at the event, rather than providing a forum solely for the fancy dress brigade...