Dáil Éireann - Volume 405 - 26 February, 1991

Written Answers. - Export Credit Insurance.

31. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will outline the countries which are in default to Ireland in respect of the export credit insurance cover indicating (1) the amount of the default in respect of each such country and (2) the steps he has taken and intends to take to obtain the discharge of their indebtedness; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

[1474] Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): Outstanding debts due to Ireland by foreign countries arising from claims paid under the export credit insurance and finance schemes are as follows:

£m

Nigeria

4.00

Tanzania

0.64

Libya

0.28

Sierra Leone

0.91

Gambia

0.02

Brazil

0.04

Argentina

1.34

Nicaragua

0.02

Iraq

7.77

Sudan

0.92

Ghana

0.07

£16.01

These debts, normally referred to as “political risk” debts, are not necessarily owed, in all cases, by State buyers who simply defaulted on commercial transactions. They also include cases where, despite the best endeavours of foreign buyers to pay, Government authorities abroad have not remitted the foreign exchange due in satisfaction of the contracts involved, most usually because of severe foreign exchange shortages.

Various methods are available for recovering sovereign debts including debt rescheduling through the auspices of the Paris Club; international debt recovery agencies; use of intermediaries in the debtor country and finally, direct Government to Government contact with the debtor country, including the use of diplomatic channels via our embassies overseas. In all the cases I have mentioned, various such methods have been used by successive Irish Governments with varying degrees of success and I can assure the House that our efforts in this respect are continuing unabated.

Needless to say, in circumstances where debts still remain to be paid, it is our policy not to offer export credit insurance for new business with any of the countries involved.