TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Access to Information Legislation
- Summary of Access to Information Laws
- Comparative Analysis of Public Lending Agencies' Disclosure Regimes
- Disclosure Policies of Publicly Owned Lending and Government Agencies
Submission to the Export Development Corporation (EDC) public consultation on disclosure from the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation a working group of the Halifax Initiative, The NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation is a coalition of Canadian non-governmental organizations concerned about the human and environmental impacts of export credit agencies. The Working Group promotes adherence by export credit agencies, particularly Canada's Export Development Corporation (EDC), to internationally accepted standards regarding human rights, the environment and sustainable development.
Our submission makes a number of recommendations to increase EDC's disclosure to the public. We also raise concerns about the consultation process itself. We would like to acknowledge the research support of Dr. Mark Schwartz, Schulich School of Business, York University, who provided valuable inputs to this submission.
Summary of Recommendations for Disclosure
For all projects, past, current and future, EDC must be required to disclose project information, defined as name of the borrower, country, name of exporter, amount and type of financial support, term and a brief description of goods, services or project, on EDC's website and in annual reports
For projects with known significant environmental, social or human rights impacts, EDC must be required to release project information, defined as name of the borrower, country, name of exporter and a brief description of goods, services or project, and environmental, social and human rights information collected, such as assessments and emergency response plans, at least 60 days before approval.
The environmental and social assessments must be made available for projects with known significant adverse impacts in the local language at least 60 days prior to approval and made available at EDC offices in the region, as well as on the internet.
For projects with potential significant adverse impacts, an environmental and social summary of the project must be released to the public via the internet at least 30 days before approval.
EDC approval of a project must be contingent on agreement to recommendations 1-3.
EDC must be brought under the purview of the Access to Information Act.
EDC must disclose draft corporate policies for public comment and background documentation related to the development or revision of corporate policies, particularly those pertaining to areas of public interest such as disclosure, environment, social impacts and human rights.
EDC must be required to conduct social, environmental and human rights assessments, using World Bank standards and methodology as a base, and to contractually oblige companies to implement assessment recommendations
All projects with known or potential significant environmental, social or human rights impacts must be submitted to the Board of Directors for approval.
These recommendations result from analysis in the following areas:
- The importance of disclosure
- Defining commercially sensitive information
- Comparison of disclosure requirements on other lending agencies
- Weighing of arguments for and against greater disclosure
The Importance of Disclosure
In 1998, the Halifax Initiative was contacted by a group of indigenous people in Colombia who were not being consulted about a dam under development on their land, a dam that threatened their way of life. We were asked to find out if the Canadian government, through the EDC, was providing dinancial support to the project. We were unable to answer this question as EDC stopped releasing information to the Canadian public about the projects it finances or guarantees in the mid-1980s. Although publicly-owned, there is neither commitment nor mechanisms in place to share specific information about EDC's activities with the public.
The issue of access to information is central to the notion of democratic accountability. As noted by Canada's Access to Information Commissioner, "The underlying philosophy [of Canada's Access to Information Act] is that government will be more accountable to the public if the public is ensured the right to access government information."
In 1986, an all-party review of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act described the two statutes as "potential instruments with which to strengthen Canadian democracy,"and found that, along with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the two Acts "represent significant limits on bureaucracy and have provided a firm anchor to individual rights."Indeed, those who use the Access to Information Act often refer to access to information as a "civil rights issue." The underpinnings for this view were expressed in a report by the Canadian Bar Association prior to passage of the Act:
[T]he right to information must be regarded as fundamental rather than procedural. Access to information is a prerequisite to the exercise of other fundamental rights and freedoms, and without such access our other rights lose much of their meaning.
Information is power. Concealing information can lead to the abuse of power. As well, information is essential for a working, participatory democracy. The citizen's ability to participate depends directly upon the amount of information at his disposal. An electorate cannot properly judge its government unless that electorate has information concerning what the government is doing and why the government is doing it.
As well, freedom of information legislation is essential for the protection of civil liberties and the private rights of the individual.
For these reasons, modern access to information laws, including Canada's Access to Information Act, have as their presumption that the burden to justify any secrecy rests with government.
Despite the benefits that EDC enjoys as a public financial institution, such as its immunity from paying taxes, its limited liability clause, its government-guaranteed credit rating, and its taxpayer-derived capital base, EDC discloses very little information to the public. As noted by the Gowlings report, "public disclosure obligations [on EDC] are almost non-existent under current legislation." EDC is exempt from the Access to Information Act (except for Canada Account financing administered through EDC), and there are no provisions in the Export Development Act that require EDC to provide any information about project financing to the public. While EDC annual reports give sectoral and geographic breakdowns, there is no provision that would allow ordinary Canadians to know which companies are being financed, at which location, and what effects an EDC-financed project could have. Only transparency at the project level will allow Canadians to ensure that EDC as a public agency is operating consistently with public policies and values.
In the words of Patrick Lavelle, the chair of EDC, "[the people] have the right to know. They are taxpayers".
International Trend Toward Greater Disclosure
The public is increasingly calling for greater accountability of both public and private institutions. The public interest for greater transparency has been expressed quite visibly in the mass demonstrations around the OECD negotiations of the MAI, the WTO meeting in Seattle and the World Bank and IMF spring meetings in Washington. These public outpourings reflect on-going struggle by civil society to protect and enhance democracy, of which transparency is a critical underpinning.
The call for greater disclosure has not gone unheard in all circles, and is reflected in a trend towards greater disclosure. This section discusses three reflections of this trend relevant to the EDC, the Aarhus Declaration, increasing disclosure within the financial services sector and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Corporations.
The Aarhus Declaration, otherwise known as the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, was adopted in 1998 by 50 countries, including Canada. The Aarhus Declaration aims to "further the accountability of and transparency in decision-making and to strengthen the public support for decisions on the environment". It recognizes " the desirability of transparency in all branches of government\, and that \…improved access to information and public participation in the decision-making enhance the quality and the implementation of decisions". It acknowledges \that public authorities hold environmental information in the public interest\.
Within the Canadian financial services sector, there currently is a minimum level of disclosure required by legislation. One study which examined the extent of disclosure by the world's largest banks (42) and securities firms (6), found that: "The results send a strong, objective and depressing signal to the banks, they all fail to disclose enough"[emphasis added] (\Masters of Opacity, in Euromoney, Feb. 2000, p.20, by David Shirreff).
The federal government tabled new legislation entitled An Act to Establish the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and to Amend Certain Acts in Relation to Financial Institutions (C-38) on June 13, 2000 (http://www.fin.gc.ca/newse00/data/00-047_11e.html). The legislation includes new disclosure and accountability provisions that require large institutions to publish "public accountability statements" each year. The following is a summary of the new provisions:
In this age of instantaneous communication, greater transparency and awareness is beneficial to both businesses and consumers. Beyond that, it is simply good business practice. The Government is therefore implementing a number of measures to increase transparency and disclosure as well as public awareness. The Bill would provide the Government with additional regulation-making authority on disclosure. At this time, the Government is proceeding with regulations to govern the disclosure of risks associated with index-linked deposit products offered by federal deposit-taking institutions and banks' policies with respect to "hold" periods on deposits. In addition, the federal and provincial governments are working together to enhance the transparency of loan contracts… (News Release 00-047, Finance Canada Website, June 13, 2000; http://www.fin.gc.ca/newse00/data/00-047_2e.html) [emphasis added]
The trend towards greater disclosure by banks is also reflected in the current practice of some banks. VanCity Bank, for example, is Canada's largest credit union with 260,000 members, 39 branches and over $5 billion in assets (http://www.vancity.com/). In 1997, the bank published its first "Social Report." The report was audited by New Economics (U.K.). The following is a message from Coro Strandberg, the former Chair of VanCity's Board of Directors, which introduces the 1997 Social Report:
"Now, more than ever before, the public is demanding higher standards of corporate responsibility, accountability, and transparency. This, VanCity's first externally verified and publicly disclosed social report, is an attempt to address this desire for openness and honesty in corporate performance. VanCity, as a member-owned credit union, is pleased to be part of a small but important group of leadership companies and non-profit organizations around the world that are endeavouring to improve their social, environmental, and ethical performance and reporting. In an age of increased competition and marketplace globalization, management tools are necessary to ensure that social and environmental values are not traded in for higher profitability.
There are many initiatives under way around the world to encourage greater disclosure by financial institutions, as well as all other corporations. Many of these initiatives include both substantive standards as well as process standards by which to engage in both auditing and reporting. A summary of initiatives is found in "Accountability 1000 Framework," Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability, London, November 1999, pp.51-61.
The OECD has endorsed the obligation to provide greater disclosure. Its revised "Guidelines for Multinational Corporations" were approved on June 27, 2000, and include a recognition of the corporate obligation to disclose information. (www.oecd.org/daf/investment/guidelines/mnetext). The Guidelines appear to counter the EDC's argument that as a commercial financial institution, it should be allowed to operate under commercial principles that resist greater disclosure. In fact, as the OECD Guidelines indicate, companies are now being asked to engage in greater disclosure of their activities. The statement on disclosure is as follows:
Enterprises should ensure that timely, regular, reliable and relevant information is disclosed regarding their activities, structure, financial situation and performance. This information should be disclosed for the enterprise as a whole and, where appropriate, along business lines or geographic areas. Disclosure policies of enterprises should be tailored to the nature, size and location of the enterprise, with due regard taken of costs, business confidentiality and other competitive concerns.
Enterprises should apply high quality standards for disclosure, accounting, and audit. Enterprises are also encouraged to apply high quality standards for non-financial information including environmental and social reporting where they exist. The standards or policies under which both financial and non-financial information are compiled and published should be reported.
Enterprises should disclose basic information showing their name, location, and structure, the name, address and telephone number of the parent enterprise and its main affiliates, its percentage ownership, direct and indirect in these affiliates, including shareholdings between them.
Conclusion: These trends reflect the importance of disclosure to increase accountability and public participation, improve decision-making and performance, protect human rights and the environment and strengthen democracy.
II. Defining Commercially Sensitive Information
Commercially sensitive information exists within commercial transactions. However, not all information related to a transaction is commercially sensitive, and often its sensitivity is time-dependent. In order to define commercially sensitive information, the following sources of information were examined:
- access to information (i.e., legislation; guides; cases);
- relevant parties
- Export Development Corporation (i.e., code of conduct, statements, interviews);
- other export credit agencies (i.e., disclosure guides, statements, interviews);
- EDC clients (i.e., interviews and documents); and
The conclusion of this research is that the following is consistently defined as commercially sensitive information.
- Conditions of contract
- Client lists
- Marketing strategy
Information considered to be less sensitive in nature is
- Name of company
- Name of country
- General description of project
- Amount and type of financing
- Environmental and social information
The first point to take into account is that a number of other terms are used to express the notion of "commercially sensitive information." These terms or concepts are often used synonymously and include: "confidential"; "commercial confidences", "commercial confidentiality", "proprietary", "sensitive business information", "trade secrets", "legitimate business interests", "market sensitive information", "commercial interests", and "privileged information." At the core of each of these concepts are two basic notions: (1) the information is not currently in the public domain; and (2) the information could be used by others in a manner which could be financially detrimental (in this case to the EDC, its client, or the foreign buyer).
a) Access to Information
Legislation: The access to information legislation across Canada, both federally and provincially, is quite similar in its definition of commercially sensitive information. The provisions fall under one specific category of exemption, that of "third party information." Under this exemption, the federal Access to Information Act [s.20(1)] has four categories of information which cannot be disclosed:
Third party information:
20. (1) Subject to this section, the head of a government institution shall refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains
(a) trade secrets of a third party;
(b) financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information supplied to a government institution by a third party and is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the third party;
(c) information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to result in material financial loss or gain to, or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the competitive position of, a third party; or
(d) information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with contractual or other negotiations of a third party.
Almost all of the other Canadian provinces, as well as the United States (under its Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or FOIA) have similar sections in their access to information legislation. Although the above provision provides some initial understanding as to what might be considered sensitive information, one might be left wondering what exactly is a trade secret, or financial, commercial, scientific, or technical information. [Note: The relevant sections for other Canadian provinces as well as the United States can be found in Appendix A. A summary of the provincial legislation as well as the respective enforcement processes can be found in Appendix B].
Guides to Legislation: Several jurisdictions have published guides to help assist decision makers in the determination of whether certain requested information should be disclosed under the third party exemption. Three such jurisdictions include: (i) the Canadian federal government; (ii) Alberta; and (iii) the U.S. government. In the case of U.S. agencies, Ex-Im Bank uses the U.S. FOIA guide in their determination of whether to disclose certain information. The guides provide much greater detail as to the meaning of the legislative sections, often referring to actual court decisions or orders, relevant tests, and occasionally providing examples.
(i) Federal Guide
The federal government's document is prepared by the Treasury Board Secretariat (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pubs_pol/gospubs/TBM_121/CHAP2_8_e.html). The document contains useful information describing the third party information section of the Access to Information Act (s.20). The following will provide the key sections of the federal guide in relation to section 20.
Paragraph 20(1)(a) of the Act provides that a government institution shall refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains trade secrets of a third party:
This is a mandatory exemption, based on a class test. A "trade secret" is a recognized legal concept that is chiefly the product of case law. The elements of a trade secret are the following:
- it consists of information;
- the information must be secret in an absolute or relative sense (i.e. known only by one or a relatively small number of persons);
- the possessor of the information must demonstrate that he has acted with the intention to treat the information as secret;
- the information must be capable of industrial or commercial application; and
- the possessor must have an interest (e.g. an economic interest) worthy of legal protection.
For a record to qualify for this exemption, the information contained in it will have to satisfy all of the criteria contained in the above list.
Paragraph 20(1)(b): The second possible exemption is that of confidential financial, commercial, scientific or technical information:
There are several elements which must be satisfied before this exemption applies:
(a) The information involved must be financial, commercial, scientific or technical information
This category can include, for example, profit & loss statements, auditors' reports, customer lists, licensing arrangements, formulae, designs, prototypes, production methods, and computer software.
(b) The information must be "confidential information"…
(c) The information must have been supplied to the government institution by a "third party"
(d) The information must be treated consistently in a confidential manner by the third party
Paragraph 20(1)(c): This section addresses material financial loss or gain or prejudice to the competitive position of the third party:
Paragraph 20(1)(c) of the Act provides that government institutions shall refuse to disclose any record requested under the Act that contains information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to result in material financial loss or gain to, or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the competitive position of a third party (Saint John Shipbuilding Limited v. Minister of Supply and Services (1988), 24 F.T.R. 32, affirmed on appeal, January 30, 1990, No. A-1094-88).
This is a mandatory exemption, based on an injury test. The paragraph applies to the disclosure of information supplied by or pertaining to a third party or which could reasonably be expected to affect any third party in the ways set out in the paragraph. In order to exempt the information, the law requires that the government institution have a reasonable expectation of (1) material financial loss to a third party, (2) material financial gain to a third party or (3) prejudice to the competitive position of a third party. None of these terms is defined in the Act but the word "material" has the meaning of "substantial" or "important".
There are two significant exceptions to the exemptions. The first is when consent is given [s.20(5)]. The second is more relevant in terms of the EDC, when the disclosure is in the public interest [Subsection 20(6)]:
Subsection 20(6) of the Access to Information Act provides that the head of a government institution may disclose any record requested under this Act, or any part thereof, that contains information described in paragraph (1)(b), (c) or (d) if such disclosure would be in the public interest as it relates to public health, public safety or protection of the environment and, if such public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs in importance any financial loss or gain to, prejudice to the competitive position of or interference with contractual or other negotiations of a third party. [emphasis added]
(iii) U.S. Guide
The U.S. provides an even more detailed guide on its legislation (Freedom of Information Act Guide, 1998, http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/foi-act.htm), containing a significant amount of case law discussion. The most relevant section of the guide pertains to exemption 4:
Exemption 4 of the FOIA protects "trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential."…The exemption covers two broad categories of information in federal agency records: (1) trade secrets; and (2) information which is (a) commercial or financial, and (b) obtained from a person, and (c) privileged or confidential.
The guide later provides a number of examples of potential competitive harm (the footnotes refer to the cases):
Numerous types of competitive injury have been identified by the courts as properly cognizable under the competitive harm prong, including the harms generally caused by disclosure of: detailed financial information such as a company's assets, liabilities, and net worth;(236) a company's actual costs, break-even calculations, profits and profit rates;(237) data describing a company's workforce which would reveal labor costs, profit margins and competitive vulnerability;(238) a company's selling prices, purchase activity and freight charges;(239) a company's purchase records, including prices paid for advertising;(240) technical and commercial data, names of consultants and subcontractors, performance, cost and equipment information;(241) shipper and importer names, type and quantity of freight hauled, routing systems, cost of raw materials, and information constituting the "bread and butter" of a manufacturing company;(242) currently unannounced and future products, proprietary technical information, pricing strategy and subcontractor information;(243) raw research data used to support a pharmaceutical drug's safety and effectiveness, information regarding an unapproved application to market the drug in a different manner, and sales and distribution data of a drug manufacturer;(244) and technical proposals which are submitted, or could be used, in conjunction with offers on government contracts.(245)
b) Relevant Parties
i) Export Development Corporation
In addition to general statements regarding confidential information, the EDC has updated its "Code of Conduct" (not to be confused with its "Code of Ethics"). This document appears to be intended for internal use by EDC employees, and unlike the "Code of Ethics," is not currently posted on the EDC website. According to a representative from the EDC, the document is intended to be posted on the website shortly.
The EDC "Code of Conduct" provides a useful section describing the sorts of third-party information the EDC believes to be potentially confidential if not already generally known to the public (section III.a.1):
1. Third-party information
It is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of the kinds of third-party information that may be confidential. The following are some examples of third-party information that may be confidential if not already generally known to the public:
- Financial reports or confidential projections;
- Information about a customer's borrowings;
- Information about a customer's current or proposed transactions, business plans, acquisition targets, customers, suppliers, creditors or investors;
- Transaction-specific information;
- EDC's assessment of the creditworthiness of a customer or any other internal analyses of customers or their businesses (whether or not
- based on confidential information);
- Significant contracts or orders of customers; and
- Personal information concerning customers, directors, officers and employees.
ii) Other ECAs
Some guidance as to the meaning of trade secrets can be gained by looking at Ex-Im Bank's "Information Disclosure Regulations". The guide defines trade secrets as:
"All forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic or engineering information, including, but not limited to, patterns, plans, compilations, program devices, formulas, designs, prototypes, methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs or codes." (http://www.Ex-Im.gov/pubs/pdf/fedreg.pdf)
iii) Other Parties
The SCFAIT meetings and interviews revealed somewhat of a consensus regarding what constitutes commercially sensitive information. As seen below, there are several types of information that could be considered commercially sensitive.
Transactional Information: Certain types of transactional information such prices, parties, prices, margins, technology and trade secrets could be considered commercially sensitive:
When a tender comes out, everyone knows the size of the plant, the capacity of the plant, and what special requirements the client might have. Unfortunately, if the price at which we won that job becomes public, our competitors can very easily figure out what price we might bid for a larger-size plant, at such and such capacity. So the alliance has been very concerned about allowing commercially confidential information out in the public domain." (David Hylton, Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters Canada, SCFAIT, Nov.18, 1999, 1025)
So the issue is that if there's a finite disclosure of unit prices or of margins…it becomes terribly critical and commercially damaging, in the sense that the next time around that same aircraft or that same telecommunications equipment is being exposed to another country, then obviously the competitor will have the advantage…But as for disclosing the balance sheets and providing the financial data you're looking for, we feel very uncomfortable about that. (from Peter Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, SCFAIT, Nov. 30, 1999, 1015).
Some information could be commercially sensitive, such as prices, details of the actual contract…. (Interview with small Canadian exporter, June 14, 2000)
Other types of information, which are not normally disclosed, things like trade secrets, patents, clients lists, or price points, I would consider to be commercially sensitive information that competitors could take advantage of, and maybe shouldn't be disclosed… (Interview with small Canadian exporter, June 15, 2000).
Commercially sensitive information is any information on the internal economics of a project such as price assumptions, costs, marketing strategy, term percentages and other aspects of the financing package. No proprietary information should be disclosed to the public. (Interview with EDC client, June 14, 2000).
Individual product and pricing information is not disclosed as it has the potential to compromise deals that the company may negotiate in the future… (Interview with Joe Sorbera, Deputy Treasurer Controller, Export Import Bank of the United States, June June 9, 2000).
Information that we would not want to see publicly disclosed would be in the category of commercially sensitive information. This would include sales contracts, construction contracts…shareholder agreements, and the like. Generally speaking, commercially sensitive information is information which a competitor, supplier or customer could use to our commercial disadvantage. (Interview with Vice President, Large Canadian Exporter, June 26, 2000).
Financing Information: Certain types of financial information could be considered commercially sensitive.
The problem is the competitiveness issue; disclosure of information that would reveal the structure, terms, prices, or transactional nature of financing packages would give our members' competitors an unfair advantage, and could easily prevent the deal from happening… It is important to note that even after the fact, there could be disclosure issues, especially in terms of financing…Any information about the way the transaction is structured is highly sensitive and would cause great discomfort among our members if it were to be disclosed. (Interview with Jayson Myers, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters Canada, June 13, 2000).
Other types of information, which are not normally disclosed, things like trade secrets, patents, clients lists, or price points, I would consider to be commercially sensitive information that competitors could take advantage of, and maybe shouldn't be disclosed. (Interview with small Canadian exporter, June 15, 2000).
The major concern with respect to commercial sensitivity is that of financial engineering, that is, the financial structure and documentation involved in a transaction. For example, the terms, conditions, prices, interest rates, all of this makes up the financial package.(Interview with Director, Large Canadian corporation, EDC client, June 14, 2000).
As mentioned, pre-approval information and information about loan conditions for large transactions where the terms may still be under negotiation… (Interview with Joe Sorbera, Deputy Treasurer Controller, Export Import Bank of the United States, June 9, 2000).
So the issue is that if there's a finite disclosure of…the ways and means in which the financing package is put together, it becomes terribly critical and commercially damaging, in the sense that the next time around that same aircraft or that same telecommunications equipment is being exposed to another country, then obviously the competitor will have the advantage…(from Peter Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, SCFAIT, Nov. 30, 1999, 1015).
Some information could be commercially sensitive, such as…the funding formulas (Interview with small Canadian exporter, June 14, 2000).
Information that we would not want to see publicly disclosed would be in the category of commercially sensitive information. This would include…loan documentation, interest rates and terms…and the like. (Interview with Vice President, Large Canadian Exporter, June 26, 2000).
Information which is not commercially sensitive
General Information: General or basic information such as the names of the parties, general descriptions of the projects, and the countries in which they are taking place, would not be considered commercially sensitive:
Limited non-essential deal facts (e.g., name of borrower) may be okay for disclosure… (Interview with Richard Sloan, Vice-President and General Manager, Structured Finance, Bombardier Inc., June 13, 2000).
Information like the names of one's customer for that specific transaction and a general description of the project, I would not mind being disclosed. (Interview with small Canadian exporter, June 15, 2000).
Information such as the name of the company, the country in which it is doing business, the name of the foreign buyer, I don't believe this type of information is very sensitive. (Interview with small Canadian exporter, June 14, 2000).
We would have no objection to disclosure of a brief description of the project, name of applicant/borrower, name of exporter (if applicable). None of this would be information which a customer, competitor or supplier could use to our commercial disadvantage. (Interview with Vice President, Large Canadian Exporter, June 26, 2000).
There is no distinction between the type of product (i.e., insurance or financial products) with regards to commercial sensitivity. (Interview with Joe Sorbera, Deputy Treasurer Controller, Export Import Bank of the United States, June 9, 2000).
There would be less discomfort, but still a great deal, if the parties and the projects were disclosed. (Interview with Jayson Myers, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters Canada, June 13, 2000).
Information with respect to the amount and type of financial support from the ECA is not commercially sensitive to our company… (Interview with Vice President, Large Canadian Exporter, June 26, 2000).
The EIS [environmental impact statement] doesn't contain trade secrets and is not, under normal circumstances, commercially sensitive information. (Interview with John Sohn, International Policy Analyst, Friends of the Earth, June 9, 2000)
This survey indicates that project summary information, defined as name of the borrower, country, name of exporter, amount and type of financial support, term and a brief description of goods, services or project, and environmental, social and human rights information collected, can be released as it is not commercially sensitive.
III. Comparison of Disclosure Regimes
There are a number of publicly-owned agencies which serve the private sector. Based on a review of the disclosure policies or regimes of a number of these agencies, it appears that all of them either: (i) disclose more information than the EDC; (ii) are subject to access to information legislation; or (iii) will be made subject to access to information legislation in the near future. In contrast to EDC's blanket withholding of all project information, disclosure is presumed for many public lending agencies, except when a compelling reason is made not to disclose.
A comparative analysis of the various publicly-owned lending agencies, including the highlights of the information disclosed, subjection to access to information legislation, and the limitations to disclosure is found in Appendix C. (For complete and full details regarding each of the institutions and agencies, including their mandates and disclosure policies, see Appendix D.
The disclosure regimes of the following agencies were examined.
Export-Import Bank of the United States of America (Ex-Im Bank)
2)Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) http://www.opic.gov
3) International Finance Corporation (IFC) http://www.ifc.org/
4) Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) http://www.miga.org/
5)European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
6) Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) http://www.efic.gov.au/
7) Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) http://www.ecgd.gov.uk/
8) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) http://www.adb.org/
9) Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) http://www.jbic.go.jp/
10) Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) http://www.iadb.org/
In addition, we examined the disclosure practices of other Canadian public lending agencies:
11) Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) http://www.bdc.ca/bdc/home/Default.asp
12) Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) http://www.ccc.ca/
1) Export-Import Bank of the United States of America (Ex-Im Bank)http://www.Ex-Im.gov/
Ex-Im Bank has developed a detailed disclosure policy. It is posted on the Ex-Im Bank website at