Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today announced that she will introduce an amendment to support trade and export jobs by extending the Export-Import Bank's lending authority until 2015 and by increasing the bank's lending limit from $100 billion to $140 billion. Unless Congress acts in the coming weeks, the bank--which helps U.S. exporters facilitate trade deals--will hit its lending capdue to unprecedented demands for export financing in recent years. The bank's charter is due to expire on May 31.
"The Export-Import Bank is one of the most important tools America has to create jobs. Allowing the Ex-Im Bank to expire would be a crippling blow to our export economy," Cantwell said today at a press conference in Washington, D.C. along with Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). "Extending the Ex-Im Bank will provide certainty for American businesses and help support private-sector job growth. These programs come at no cost to the U.S Treasury and this will be a very important tool to make sure that we get certainty and predictability as soon as possible."
Since 2007, the Ex-Im Bank has provided $28 billion in loans to 168 exporters in Washington state, resulting in $64 billion in sales. Of these 168 exporters, 120 were small businesses, 11 were minority-owned businesses and 12 were women-owned businesses. To see a full list of the companies in Washington state, click here.
Cantwell will file the amendment to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) bill, which passed the House of Representatives last week. Cantwell's amendment would:
Extend the bank's charter until 2015.
Increase the bank's lending capacity from $100 billion to $140 billion to allow it to guarantee more loans to companies that buy U.S. exports.
Improve the bank's transparency by requiring it to provide more notice and details to Congress, the public and customers before and after it approves transactions over $100 million. Exemptions exist for confidential and proprietary business information.
Boeing is one of the country's leading exporters of manufactured goods with more than $34 billion in total exports in 2011, up over 45% since 2006. Over the past three years, financing from the bank has supported export sales of more than 460 Boeing commercial aircraft.
The bank is even more important for small and medium exporters. Its financing for smaller exporters has risen over 70% the last three years, comprising more than 85% of the bank's transactions. In FY2011, more than 700 first-time small businesses and nearly 500 minority- and women-owned businesses used the bank's services.
The potential for the Ex-Im Bank to help Washington state small businesses create jobs is so great that the bank recently announced that it would open a branch in Seattle, Washington. The goal of opening this new branch is helping small businesses get more access to the bank's financing.
According to National Small Business Association President and CEO Todd McCracken, "While lawmakers continue to beat the drum for jobs and helping America's small businesses publicly, in private they have put at risk a program of critical importance to small-business exporters. Hijacking Ex-Im Bank in the near-term does a great disservice to small businesses and the U.S. economy in the long-term"
In FY 2011, the bank set export financing records for the third year in a row. Overall financing exceeded $32 billion - a nearly 34% increase since 2010. And FY 2011 financing has supported $41 billion in U.S. exports from over 3,600 U.S. companies and almost 290,000 export-related American jobs.
The bank's activities come at no cost to U.S. taxpayers. In fact, the U.S. Treasury has made more than $3 billion off the bank's activities since 2005.
Failure to extend the bank's charter would seriously impact the ability of Washington state companies to export overseas and cost jobs. China, Brazil, France and many other companies provide far more aggressive export credit financing to companies within their borders. The bank simply levels the playing field for Washington state and U.S. companies that sell goods overseas.