WASHINGTON DC, April 23, 2003 – African and industrial country businesses and financial institutions alike are expected to benefit from an agreement signed here today that will facilitate trade and investment transactions between the region and the industrialized world.
The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) and Zurich North America’s Emerging Markets Solutions unit (ZEMS) have signed a political risk insurance cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), under which ZEMS will partner with ATI to offer a variety of insurance and financial solutions to infrastructure developers, multinational corporations and international banks looking for new business opportunities in ATI-member countries. These countries include Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, as well as Madagascar whose President signed the Treaty Establishing the Agency late last year.
Photo: Signing of the MoU in Washington, with ZEMSati-zems
Bernard de Haldevang, Chief Executive of ATI, welcomed the agreement as “…a good move for Africa’s economies as it provides a further important link to the mature resources of the capital markets in the developed world.” He added: “This is an example of a public-private partnership arrangement which plays to the strengths of both partners. One of ATI’s main goals is to encourage risk participation by private market players so as to reduce the cost of finance in African transactions and thus increase the competition in our markets.”
Speaking on behalf of ZEMS, Daniel Riordan, executive vice president and managing director , said “As a global political risk unit of Zurich North America, ZEMS welcomes this opportunity to team with ATI to help mitigate political risks for investors, while at the same time furthering our desire to promote Africa’s considerable trade and investment potential.” He went on: “In cooperation with ATI, we can enable investors to pursue new African business opportunities and manage these deals with confidence.”
ZEMS (www.zurichna.com/politicalrisk) is a global political risk and credit insurance group based in Washington, DC, with offices in London, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. ZEMS’ global exposure is more than US $7 billion with exposures in 83 emerging markets. ZEMS provides political and credit risk solutions to financial institutions, multinational corporations, export credit agencies and multilateral institutions and is a member of the Berne Union International, an international union of credit and investment insurers.
ATI (www.ati-aca.com), as Africa’s only multilateral Export Credit Agency, is a pan-African initiative supported by the World Bank and the EU, whose objective is to encourage trade and investment in Africa by facilitating access to, and improving the terms of, trade finance for imports into and exports from, as well as trade among participating African countries. ATI, which is also supported by Lloyd’s of London underwriters and the Gerling NCM credit insurance group, will achieve this objective by making available to exporters trade credit and political risk insurance for trade and investment transactions.
With the objective of increasing its membership within Africa, ATI currently brings together eight African countries willing to address the market’s perception by setting up a credible insurance mechanism against losses caused by credit and political risks, with ATI’s member countries partially assuming financial liability for the political risks affecting trade within their own countries.
ATI’s target market includes African companies from ATI member countries exporting goods and/or services to, or investing in other ATI member countries and foreign banks/financial institutions financing such transactions. All African countries are eligible to participate in the project and become participating countries.
In a very recent development, ATI has just announced that it is extending its product range to cover payment risks on public buyers, provide cover against terrorism physical damage risks, and is also investigating the possibility of launching a working capital finance guarantee facility to help reduce the cost to African exporters of raising funds for exports and imports.
Zurich North America (www.zurichna.com) is a leading commercial property-casualty insurance provider serving the multinational, middle market and small business sectors in the United States and Canada. Headquartered in Schaumburg, IL., Zurich North America has 12,750 employees and wrote $13.6 billion in premiums in 2002. Zurich North America includes the Zurich U.S. business units (Corporate Customer, Middle Markets, Small Business, Strategic Partnerships, Construction, Specialties, Zurich Global Energy and Empire Insurance Companies), as well as Universal Underwriters Group, Zurich North America Canada, Zurich Corporate Solutions and Centre. The Zurich U.S. pool of companies is rated A (excellent) by A.M. Best and A+ (strong) by Standard & Poor’s. Zurich North America is a member of Zurich Financial Services.
Zurich Financial Services (www.zurich.com) is an insurance-based financial services provider with an international network that focuses its activities on its key markets of North America, the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. Founded in 1872, Zurich is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. It has offices in approximately 60 countries and employs well over 70,000 people.