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Shippers press Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank

The National Association of Manufacturers wants Capitol Hill lawmakers to pass another long-term extension of the bank’s charter before its Sept. 30 expiration.

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The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is urging Capitol Hill lawmakers to pass legislation that will provide a long-term reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank before its current charter expires on Sept. 30.

Ex-Im Bank has struggled to fully operate in recent years. The Senate earlier this year approved the nominations of additional board members to the bank which allowed for a quorum to approve financing for export deals exceeding $10 million.

NAM estimated that due to the lack of a board quorum at the bank during 2016 and 2017 U.S. manufacturers lost an estimated $119 billion in potential export business.

“With the Ex-Im Bank now fully functioning for the first time in more than four years, we simply cannot allow another harmful lapse to occur again,” the trade association said in a letter to congressional lawmakers on Sept. 11.

NAM said overseas competitors to U.S. manufacturers in about 90 countries have access to similar financial institutions as the Ex-Im Bank, which “are actively deploying substantial export financing tools to support their own domestic industries and workers.”

The trade association added that for many U.S. manufacturers “the Ex-Im Bank is often the difference between winning and losing a deal, growing a business or shutting its doors, hiring workers or risking jobs.”

On Sept. 9, Ex-Im Bank President and Chairman Kimberly Reed met with company executives at a roundtable discussion hosted by NAM’s Council of Manufacturing Associations to discuss the bank’s U.S. export financing services. 

Other Ex-Im Bank board members include Spencer Bachus and Judith Pryor. The position of vice chairman and one board seat currently remain vacant.

It’s estimated that since 2000, Ex-Im Bank has facilitated the financing for about $450 billion in U.S. exports. 

In 2015, the bank briefly closed its doors when it became ensnared in a political battle over whether its operations should continue. Opponents referred to the financial institution’s loans to large American companies, such as Boeing and GE, as “corporate welfare” and “crony capitalism.” 

Ex-Im Bank supporters in Congress managed to reauthorize its charter on Dec. 3, 2015, as part of a transportation bill. The bill approved a long-term reauthorization of the bank through Sept. 30, 2019. 

However, until this year Ex-Im Bank’s financing abilities remained hamstrung due to vacancies on its board. The bank’s rules require at least three of the five board seats to be filled to approve financing in amounts larger than $10 million.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.