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The Uncertain Future of the Export-Import Bank of the United States

Published: 20 May 2015 01:05:40 PST

On a trip to the Boeing airplane factory in February, President Obama called for the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, (often referred to as the Ex-Im Bank) stating it played a main role in helping to promote U.S. exports.

More than 75 years after President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order to create the independent federal agency, the bank's future is in limbo. Congress must reauthorize its charter before May 31, when the bank is to reach its $100 billion lending limit, for it to keep operating.

PIERS recently exhibited at the Ex-Im Bank Conference in Washington, D.C. April 12-13, where former President Clinton delivered an insightful keynote speech.  His speech helped to further highlight the important role the Ex-Im Bank plays in helping businesses both large and small succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy. In an election year, at a time when job creation is a main concern of the American voter, Clinton discussed how the Ex-Im Bank is a driver of the U.S. economy.

President Clinton at the recent EXIM Annual Conference

“If America wants to lead the world in shared prosperity, a key component must be to increase employment in the tradable sector,” said President Clinton. “There is a whole raft of studies that show that Americans who work in the tradable sector of the economy are not only likely to get jobs with higher starting pay but also pay that increases with the growth of the companies.”

To effectively illustrate how important the Ex-Im Bank is to American businesses, the Seattle Times recently featured a story of a small exporter of floral greens, Janis van Well. Her $4 million company sends greens for bouquets to businesses in Germany, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and is one of 74 companies in Washington State that received help in 2011 from the Ex-Im Bank. Van Well takes comfort in knowing the government will protect her company's losses for up to $1.6 million if any of her foreign customers don’t pay their bills.

If Congress fails to act, no state will be harder hit than Washington, one of the bank's biggest beneficiaries and the nation's most trade-dependent state, where one of three jobs is tied to international trade and 83,000 jobs are at stake.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, said failure to act by May 31 would favor foreign competitors over U.S. exporters and hurt the Obama administration’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.

“There is simply no good reason to oppose the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank,” Mr. Johnson said at a committee hearing last Tuesday. Last year, the bank accounted for nearly $33 billion in export financing, which supported 290,000 American jobs, according to Mr. Johnson.

The current bill calling for reauthorization would extend the bank’s charter to 2015 and increase its lending authority from $100 billion to $140 billion.  House Republicans demanding for more transparency have been the primary obstacle to getting this bill passed despite mounting pressure to meet the May 31st deadline.

According to the Ex-Im Bank, U.S. exports have grown at an annualized rate of 15%, which is sufficient to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015.  To track the progress of U.S. exports by volume in addition to dollar value visit and ask for a free sample of our export data.

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