The World Bank, through its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), significantly expanded the eligible pool of projects it would guarantee.  

The MIGA provides insurance to private foreign investors against political risks like expropriation, war, civil unrest, terrorism, and breach of contract. 

 

The investors are usually large and powerful multinational corporations headquartered in developed countries and the investment recipient are in developing countries.  These project often employ the services of private contractors from developed countries.

 

The MIGA's stated goal is to promote foreign direct investment in emerging market countries  to help support economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve people's lives.

 

The organization's recent change allows it to insure stand-alone debt.  Previously, it had to insure both equity and debt investments.  Also, new investors in existing projects will now be eligible for insurance.  Previously, only the original investors in new projects could apply for them.

 

A World Bank spokesperson said the ability to issue stand-alone debt is the key modification that will expand the volume of MIGA guarantees.   Extending insurance to new investors would encourage new players to bring their expertise or backing to existing projects, especially ones that are not doing so well and would benefit tremendously from the inclusion of a new partner.

 

The MIGA said insuring infrastructure projects is its primary goal.  However, at the end of 2010, the financial sector is the largest holding due to its efforts to support that sector during the global financial crisis.  Other eligible sectors include agribusiness, manufacturing, and mining.

 

Recently, MIGA issued a 3-year, $207 million guarantee for the PT Weda Bay Nickel Project in Indonesia.  The investors were the French Eramet SA and the Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation. 

 

Some of its famous projects in the past were the Orion pulp mill project in Uruguay, for which it issued $350 million in guarantees, and the Nam Theun 2 Hydroelectric Dam, for which it issued $91 million in guarantees.

 

MIGA also said it revamped and simplified the guarantee application process in response to feedback from the private sector.  Private companies can apply for MIGA insurance on www.miga.org. 

 

 

Email Hao Li at hao.li@ibtimes.com

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