Byers tightens rules for export credits

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The Independent Online

The government department that provides export credits for UK firms doing business overseas is to adopt a new code of business ethics following the furore over its backing for the controversial Ilisu dam project in Turkey.

The government department that provides export credits for UK firms doing business overseas is to adopt a new code of business ethics following the furore over its backing for the controversial Ilisu dam project in Turkey.

Ministers are to announce the changes on Monday and set out the more stringent principles to which the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) will have to adhere in future.

The areas to be covered by the new business code include human rights issues, sustainable development, business integrity, corporate governance, openness and indebtedness.

A specialist in environmental standards, David Allwood from the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, will advise the ECGD on the drawing up of a detailed code that will be introduced from the beginning of next year.

The introduction of the new code follows a more wide-ranging review of the ECGD's status, which was published in July in the wake of the uproar over the Ilisu dam.

Opponents of the dam say it displace up to 78,000 Turkish Kurds and ethnic Arabs from their homes and villages and lead to the inundation of one of Turkey's most famous archaeological sites.

Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, has withheld £200m in export credits for the project until Turkey meets four conditions.

These relate to the resettlement plan; water quality; water flow; and measures being put in place to protect the archeological heritage. "If any one of these is not met then an export credit will not be made available," Mr Byers told a business conference held by environmental campaigners Greenpeace in London yesterday.

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