U.S. President Barack Obama, in a phone call yesterday with AIM’s international trade executive Kristen Rupert and other business representatives, called for the Export-Import Bank to be reauthorized immediately.
“Ex-Im” has provided export loans, credit, guarantees and insurance to nearly 200 small and medium size businesses in Massachusetts during the past several years. Congress allowed the Ex-Im charter to expire on June 30, so no new export credit can be issued by the Bank.
The action puts U.S. exporters at a disadvantage versus foreign competitors, many of whom benefit from export financing provided by their own countries’ version of Ex-Im. In fact, 85 export credit agencies in 60 different countries compete with Ex-Im.
The Export-Import Bank, which originated in the 1930s, has been reauthorized at least 16 times, most recently in 2006 and 2012. This year, however, conservative Republicans in Congress have held up reauthorization, and Congressional leadership has so far refused to bring a reauthorization vote to the floor.
President Obama pointed out during the conference call that the bank does not just benefit large corporations. Ninety percent of its loans go to small and medium businesses. Support for Ex-Im is bipartisan. And the bank actually returns money to the U.S. Treasury each year.
General Electric, a longtime AIM member, is a major Ex-Im Bank customer. Hundreds of companies in New England are GE suppliers, and many have said they will institute layoffs if Ex-Im goes away.
Other Massachusetts firms, in industry sectors ranging from food products to plastics to jewelry, have emphasized that their exports to emerging markets in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East would simply not happen without Ex-Im credit, because conventional commercial banks in the U.S. are not willing or able to take on the higher level of risk associated with these developing countries.
"Here’s why this matters," the president wrote in an Op-Ed piece in The Boston Globe yesterday.
"Over the past five years, we’ve worked hard to open new markets for our businesses, and as a result, more American goods are being sold around the world than ever before. Last year, we had record exports for the fifth straight year.
"And exports support nearly 11.7 million American jobs — 1.8 million more than when I took office — so by increasing exports, we’re helping put more Americans to work. Plus, export-supported jobs are good jobs."
What happens next? Congress is in recess and Ex-Im supporters hope to bring a vote on the bank to the floor later in July. Reach out today to your Congressional representative or to AIM to voice your support for Ex-Im Bank reauthorization. Contact AIM’s Kristen Rupert at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on the Export-Import Bank.