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ECA: Abbreviation for Export Credit Agencies. ECAs are institutions dealing with export credit that can be public or operating on behalf of government, sometimes under a privatisation process (i.e. the Italian SACE S.p.A.). ECAs provide insurance or guarantees to national private corporations in the form of direct credits/financing, refinancing, interest-rate support (where the government supports a fixed interest rate for the life of the credit), and financial aid (credits and grants); moreover, they assume credit and country risks for their business abroad. Export credits are generally divided into short-term (usually under two years), medium-term (usually two to five years), and long-term (usually over five years) credits. The most important official ECAs are the Compagnie française d'Assurance pour le commerce extérieur (COFACE) in France, Euler Hermes Kreditversicherungs-AG (EULER HERMES) in Germany, the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) in the UK, the Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) in Japan, and the Export Development Canada (EDC) in Canada. In the USA, the official export credit agency is the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EX IM BANK), which provides working capital guarantees (pre-export financing), export credit insurance, loan guarantees and direct loans (buyer financing). Industrialized countries participate in the OECD Export Credit Group (ECG) to define export credit policies. The OECD's Export Credit Division provides coordination for national practices promoting agreements between the participants.

Editor: Bianca GIANNINI