Boost for exports to former Soviet Union

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THE GOVERNMENT is boosting its backing for exports to the former Soviet Union despite last weekend's disturbances in Moscow and serious unrest elsewhere in the region, writes David Bowen.

The state-owned Export Credits Guarantee Department has told capital goods exporters that for the first time since the break-up of the Soviet Union insurance against non-payment is available for sales to Estonia, Latvia and Kazakhstan. ECGD is also considering restoring cover on Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Cover on Russia, which has been available for a year, is being maintained and exporters are being encouraged to apply for dollars 300m worth of export credits.

An dollars 800m credit line, backed by ECGD, was established last year, and dollars 500m has already been committed on four large contracts. One of these, a telecommunications project undertaken by GPT, is understood to be close to final signature.

The former Soviet Union is, however, regarded as too risky to be included in ECGD's mainstream business.

Any losses will be borne directly by the Government, which has become much more aggressive in supporting British exporters in the past year.

Last month Richard Needham, the trade minister, announced that ECGD issued guarantees on capital goods exports totalling pounds 1.5bn in the first quarter of the financial year, compared with a total of pounds 3.8bn for the whole of 1992/3.

He said ECGD cover would be increased as much as is necessary to ensure that exports of capital equipment to non-OECD countries doubled by the year 2000.