EC payment delay rises sharply

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The Independent Online
THE VALUE of severely delayed payments from EC buyers to British exporters has risen by 67 per cent in the past year, underlining the severity of the Continental recession.

NCM Credit Insurance, formerly the short-term credit division of the Export Credits Guarantee Department, said in its quarterly export study, published yesterday, that defaults among German importers rose by 136 per cent in the year to March. Italian defaults, which still account for the bulk in absolute terms, rose by 115 per cent, and those from Spain increased by 70 per cent. Among European countries, only Ireland registered a fall.

NCM, which insures exporters against commercial default, covered pounds 14bn of UK sales last year. Conni Randall, NCM's business strategy director, said the increase of defaults in Germany was particularly worrying. 'A lot of them are in industries and companies that were previously regarded as blue chip,' she said.

Europe has become the main area of risk for exporters. About half of NCM's business is in the EC, but the value of delayed payments rose from 46 per cent of the total in 1991 to 63 per cent last year. The US has improved, while levels of default in the Middle East and South-east Asia remain low.

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