2021 marks first year of EDC’s plan to help transform Canada’s export trade

Export Development Canada (EDC) spent 2021 laying the foundation of its 10-year strategy aimed at helping Canada emerge as a leader in international trade, speeding up on its long-time commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles, and working – with determination and resolve – through the second year of challenges brought by the global pandemic. 

“Last year will really stand out as a defining year in EDC’s 77-year history,” said EDC President and CEO Mairead Lavery. “Pivoting our strategy to do something bolder for Canada. Reinforcing the critical importance of ESG in the context of climate change and economic transition. Readying to seize the opportunities that will flow from the recovery from the economic crisis. This is the year we began to change the face of Canada’s export trade.”

During 2021, Canada’s official export credit agency served 29,800 customers – 74% of which were micro- small- and medium-sized businesses, the backbone of Canada’s economy. Through these customers, EDC’s solutions helped facilitate $111 billion in trade-related business, supported 512,000 domestic jobs and supported $71 billion, or 3.3%, of the national GDP.

“After a long period of unprecedented challenges, economic conditions started to improve in 2021 as Canada and the globe began to emerge from the pandemic,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Ken Kember. “As a result, we recorded net income of $2.29 billion primarily due to strong performance in our investment portfolio as well as a reversal of our provision for credit losses.”

Establishing the foundation

In 2021, EDC began executing on its plan to, through a sharp increase in international trade, help build a better and stronger economic future for Canadians. The heart of the long-term strategy is meeting EDC’s customers’ needs. 

“Transforming the way we work, to meet the needs of our customers, is our top priority,” Lavery said. “We’re moving from being product-driven to letting the needs of our customers drive our actions. We’re simplifying and digitizing our offerings to meet the unique needs of customers in each segment.”

For micro- and small-sized customers, EDC is making its products easier to access so businesses can more easily participate in trade. The organization stood up a new focused team to engage with high-growth, mid-sized customers, identify their needs and determine what they need to accelerate their growth. 

In 2021, those micro, small and medium segments accounted for 21,981 customers – a 32% increase year-over-year.

Building on ESG principles

Also front and centre with the strategy is EDC’s commitment to ESG. Since making cleantech a corporate priority in 2012, EDC has facilitated $20.3 billion in business in the sector – including $6.3 billion in 2021, representing an increase of 40% over 2020.

And, for the first time, EDC’s support for cleantech surpassed that of oil and gas, which continued to decrease in 2021 – down to $4.4 billion in business facilitated from $8.1 billion a year prior.

Last year, EDC became the first export credit agency globally to commit to net zero emissions by 2050. 

The organization’s carbon intensity target – reducing exposure to its six most carbon-intensive sectors by 40% below 2018 levels by 2023 – is an important element of its commitment to climate. In 2021, EDC drove down its exposure in those sectors to $13.6 billion, bringing the organization within $100 million of its 2023 target.

EDC also made strides in its goal to help level the playing field for equity-seeking businesses – those led or majority-owned by Indigenous peoples, people from Black and other racialized communities, persons with disabilities, women, and members of the LGBTQ2+ community. 

Its inclusive trade strategy helped EDC work with more women- and Indigenous-led businesses in 2021 than in 2020, serving 1,665 and 187 customers, respectively. Through those interactions and transactions, EDC facilitated $1.7 billion in business through women-owned businesses and $260 million through Indigenous-owned businesses.

EDC’s suite of ESG activities benefitted from the guidance and input of EDC’s Board of Directors and its various committees. In 2021, the Board entrenched its roles and responsibilities in core governance processes, further enhancing its role in EDC’s ESG practices. This work was further supported through third-party training for Directors, regarding the role of boards in providing guidance in ESG.

Working through the crisis 

Throughout 2021, EDC remained focused on supporting its employees and helping companies overcome ongoing financial, macro-economic and supply chain challenges as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

For the second year, EDC proudly played a key role in the Government of Canada’s economic response to the global pandemic. From April 2020 to December 2021, the EDC-administered Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program distributed approximately $49 billion to more than 898,000 micro- and small-sized Canadian businesses. Similarly, the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) provided 2,038 guaranteed loans, unlocking access to $1.4 billion in credit during the same period. 

Both COVID-specific programs expired at the end of the year, as many businesses now look toward recovery. In that vein, EDC launched the Trade Recovery Guarantee – a temporary, flexible working capital solution guarantee, and will continue to innovate its products and services as the country moves into the next phase of economic recovery.

About EDC

Export Development Canada (EDC) is a financial Crown corporation dedicated to helping Canadian companies of all sizes succeed on the world stage. As international risk experts, we equip Canadian companies with the tools they need – the trade knowledge, financing solutions, equity, insurance, and connections – to grow their business with confidence. Underlying all our support is a commitment to sustainable and responsible business.

For more information and to learn how we can help your company, call us at 1-800-229-0575 or visit www.edc.ca.