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Business News

Trade minister urged to expand export support to green firms

Lord Green, the new Trade minister, is being urged to embrace a wider spectrum of businesses when he embarks on a national tour tomorrow to promote British exports.

Campaigners want the former HSBC chairman to expand the range of firms that Britain's export promotion body, the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD), has traditionally supported to include new, green industries rather than the arms, aerospace and carbon-intensive industries that have soaked up export support to date.

Nick Dearden of the advocacy group Jubilee Debt Campaign called on Lord Green last night to use his new appointment to press for "urgent reform" of the ECGD, which he said has "accumulated an unjust debt burden from the developing world of more than £2bn". He warned that the Government's plans for an export-led recovery would lead to human-rights abuses, climate change and deepening poverty unless the ECGD was radically overhauled.

A new report, released tomorrow by the campaign group, exposes a history of backing projects by large corporations in controversial sectors, including arms sales to General Suharto of Indonesia, that have resulted in developing countries racking up vast debts that they are unable to pay back.