On June 1st, it will be 15 years from the moment the Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation started its activities. An acronym EGAP has became common. Beginnings were very unpretentious. In 1992 we stood, figuratively speaking, on a green field looking around in neighbouring countries how the credit insurance had really been made. There was nothing to follow up although the first commercial credit insurance company had been founded here as soon as in 1929 and, 4 years later, a special state fund for the insurance of export credits against political risks was established. Both were swept away by the world war and following decades of deviation from market principles. As no commercial credit insurance company had been operating here a long time after returning to them, there was necessity to develop beside the insurance against political risks related to exports - this being the main reason for establishing EGAP - also the insurance of short-term receivables so Czech companies had at their disposal the same whole range of services as their competitors in developed European countries. In these days, Czech entrepreneurs had been confronted with new dangers in exporting and they had had no experience with the credit insurance similarly to banks - so all of us had to learn together. The range of our products grew rapidly and, along with it, the insured volumes. While it was at regular pace in the commercial insurance in dependence on EGAP's own business activities, results in the insurance with state support in individual years were significantly influenced by the success rate of the Czech exporters in winning large export contracts. The insurance of credits and bank guarantees in connection with deliveries for the thermal power plant Shen Tou in China participated in a high degree in the best to day result in the insurance with state support in 2001. But right in the following year, impact of stagnation and recession in EU member states as well as in a number of developing countries, was fully felt together with a decrease in investments in the world as a result of fear from terrorist attacks. In 2003 EGAP was able to renew dynamics of the growth of its own activities and maintain it in following years thanks to abilities of the Czech exporters to assert themselves more and more on foreign markets and to win large contracts again with help of EGAP; it also was a result of the strengthening of EGAP's marketing activities bringing a significant growth in the number of clients.
The last year was one of the most successful years from the point of view of the main mission of our company, i.e. support of Czech exports. When we add up volumes of credits, guarantees and investment insured with state support with the volume of short-term receivables insured commercially, we have the sum of almost CZK160 billion - this is the record result in our history. Since 1992 we have insured credits, bank guarantees and investment worth nearly CZK850 billion, we have protected hundreds of clients against serious financial problems and helped realize tens of thousands of business deals.
Range of risks the exporter has to face today when preparing and realizing an export contract is very varied. However, the present offer of EGAP is also very diversified and uses in a maximum degree scope marked out by international rules on state export support. At the end of last year, we included in the offer of insurance products 3 innovations which are a result of our endeavours to do our best to meet requirements of our clients and to react flexibly on the changing economic environment. Further insurance products and new methods of insurance are being prepared and we are not forgetting small and medium-sized enterprises which represent to us an important target group of exporters and potential users of administratively simplified and advantageous insurance products. Our ambition is to be that proverbial step ahead also in the future and not only wait for outside stimuli in the development of new types of the insurance but to come out with the offer addressing the possibly widest circle of the Czech exporters and investors with its availability, usefulness and quality.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
and Managing Director