HC Deb 20 October 1998 vol 317 cc1080-1W
Helen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the extension of ECGD's Amber Zone Budget beyond 31 March 1999. [55992]

Mr. Mandelson

I have decided to extend the Amber Zone Budget (AZB), which controls the level of new commitments on markets where ECGD exposure is already concentrated or the risks are high, by a further two years, until 31 March 2001. In view of the ample headroom against the current AZB of £3.8 billion, the AZB for 1999–2000 and 2000–2001 will be maintained at this level, but the position will be kept under review to ensure that ECGD can continue to support worthwhile export business. In line with good practice followed by commercial banks ECGD will continue to set exposure against the AZB on a weighted basis according to its susceptibility to political risks. In the meantime, a review is being undertaken on how to improve ECGD's exposure management regime, with the objective of providing Ministers with a clearer and better framework for striking a balance between supporting worthwhile exports and the financial risks to the taxpayer.