The U.S. Export-Import Bank re-opened for business two weeks ago after being sidelined since June 30 because of a political battle in Washington.
All nine members of the Massachusetts House delegation, along with Senator Edward Markey, voted their approval this month to reauthorize the Bank. Congress had allowed Ex-Im Bank’s charter to lapse in June, despite the fact that the bank has provided export financing to large and small U.S. businesses without controversy for more than 80 years. Since 2013, Congressional conservatives have criticized the bank as a symbol of big government and corporate welfare and targeted it for elimination.
Thanks to a series of unusual legal maneuvers by bipartisan members of Congress this fall, legislation to reauthorize the bank got back on track. The recent Highway Bill, also called the FAST Act, included language to get Ex-Im back up and running. President Obama signed the legislation on December 4.
Hundreds of Massachusetts manufacturers have used Ex-Im Bank financing for loan guarantees, to ensure payment from new overseas customers, and for various types of export insurance. These Bay State clients make everything from heavy machinery to police badges to bicycles to technology products. Between 50 and 75 companies in Massachusetts access Ex-Im financing each year.
The recent five-month hiatus of the Ex-Im Bank created difficulties for Massachusetts firms. Some companies put pending deals on hold; other firms sought alternative financing that was more costly than Ex-Im; still others let plans to enter emerging markets lapse until the fate of the bank was known.
The good news is that the U.S. Export-Import Bank is now making new loan commitments and helping exporters across the U.S. enter new markets and expand their customer base. Massachusetts firms interested in pursuing Ex-Im financing should contact Ex-Im’s Gregory Smith, Regional Director, Eastern Region, at Gregory.firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.exim.gov.