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Greece Risks Trade Constraints as Insurers Cut Export Coverage

Greece Risks Trade Constraints as Insurers Cut Export Coverage
Piraeus port in Athens. Photographer: Nikos Pilos/Bloomberg

Euler Hermes SA, the world’s biggest credit insurer, said it will no longer cover new shipments of goods to Greece because of the risks of the nation leaving the euro currency and customers defaulting on payments.

The insurer, a unit of Allianz SE, took the decision because exporting to Greece has become “significantly more risky,” Paris-based Euler Hermes said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The insurer is still working under the assumption Greece will remain in the euro zone, it said.

“We will still cover those shipments under way and internal commercial transactions,” spokeswoman Bettina Sattler said by telephone today. Future shipments to the country won’t be covered, she said.

The lack of export insurance, which pays companies if a client defaults, raises the prospect that certain goods will no longer reach Greek companies and stores. Austria’s OeKB Versicherung AG said on May 29 it will also drop coverage of new shipments to Greece and Coface SA of France said it’s only doing business with “the healthiest Greek companies.”

Greeks vote again June 17 after elections on May 6 failed to produce a workable majority in parliament, as parties opposed to sticking to Greece’s part of an aid agreement with the European Union won most of the votes. Euler Hermes said on May 26 it was reviewing its coverage of exports to Greece because of the risk of the country exiting the euro.

Atradius NV, the trade-credit insurer owned by Grupo Catalana Occidente SA, and Sace SpA, Italy’s trade-credit insurer, said earlier this week they continue to cover reasonable risks on new supplies to Greece, while closely monitoring developments in the country.

Euler Hermes had gross premiums last year of 2.28 billion euros ($2.9 billion), up 5.9 percent from the year earlier.

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