Trade opposes Ex-Im Bank cutoff to IranÆs energy sector
Three international trade groups have expressed opposition to the House Appropriations Committee’s proposed amendment to the fiscal year 2010 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that would prohibit the Export-Import Bank from supporting U.S. exports to companies worldwide that may have business relations with Iran's energy sector.
'Such proposals amount to a unilateral secondary boycott, which the United States has long opposed when other governments have tried to stop American firms from dealing with Israel,' wrote William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council and co-chairman of USA*Engage, and Edmund B. Rice, president of the Coalition for Employment through Exports, in a letter to the committee chairman on Monday.
The Washington-based trade groups said while it's 'understandable' that lawmakers would seek 'new points of leverage' against the Iranian government for its nuclear weapons prowess, 'we believe that any unilateral U.S. sanctions applied to companies around the world because they are doing business, legally under their national laws, with Iran's energy sector would only harm U.S. exporters and their workers and would jeopardize the U.S. government's ongoing effort to build more effective multilateral pressure on the Iranian government.'
The trade group heads pointed out in their letter that other governments, including China, Japan, Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Italy, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, encourage companies to be active in Iran's energy sector.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that Iran has the world's largest oil reserves and second-largest natural gas reserves. The agency also ranked Iran as the world's second-largest crude oil producer and fourth-largest oil exporter. In addition, Iran is the world's fourth-largest natural gas producer and will become a major gas and liquefied natural gas exporter.
'If the Congress were to cut off Ex-Im Bank support for U.S. export sales to these worldwide companies, billions of dollars in U.S. exports would be stopped and the consequent job loss would fall on American workers,' Reinsch and Rice said.