To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the outcome of his annual review of Export Credits Guarantee Department premium rates.
Experience of the use of the portfolio management system indicates that it provides a sound basis for helping to determine the appropriate level of premiums. We continue to press ahead with our international initiative to encourage the use of systems which more closely match premiums to risk. Meanwhile, I have now completed the first annual review of Export Credits Guarantee Department's rates taking account of experience of the practical operation of the system, the latest forecasts of economic prospects in all the main markets, and the competitive position of British exporters. It is clear from this review that in the event current premium rates need adjusting to reflect changes both in trading patterns and in the creditworthiness of various markets so as to achieve our planned likelihood of avoiding underwriting losses. I am happy to say that we have therefore been able to make substantial reductions for many markets, though there will be some increases in others, notably those whose prospects have significantly weakened. The new rates will come into effect from 6 April. The Export Credits Guarantee Department will be in touch with exporters, and their representative associations, to inform them of the changes.