Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg was the sole witness, and his testimony highlighted Ex-Im Bank’s achievements in FY2013. Last year, Ex-Im supported an estimated 205,000 U.S. jobs and generated more than $1 billion for the U.S. taxpayers. While U.S. exports were up in 2013, authorizations from Ex-Im Bank were down from the previous year – demonstrating Ex-Im Bank’s countercyclical nature. As the global economy continues to strengthen, exports are being financed not only by commercial banks but also by capital markets.
Chairman Hochberg also emphasized Ex-Im Bank’s support small businesses, and touted Ex-Im Bank’s collaboration – and sometimes even co-location – with U.S. Export Assistance Centers across the country. In FY 2013, the Bank financed a record 3,413 small businesses, or nearly 90 percent of Ex-Im’s transactions.
“To address the needs of our small business customers, Ex-Im Bank has implemented a number of new financial products,” Chairman Hochberg testified. “Our most popular product, Express Insurance, received an innovation in government award from Harvard’s Kennedy School and has helped more than 800 small businesses get a prompt response to their application.”
NAM member companies across the country, from large firms to small businesses, have turned to Ex-Im Bank to take advantage of new international trade opportunities and grow their workforce. BTE Technologies, for example, is a small company in Maryland that makes sophisticated physical therapy and sports medicine equipment. BTE was able to tap into the financing tools Ex-Im Bank offers to small businesses to increase revenues from overseas sales. In 2001, the company was doing less than 2 percent of its revenue in international markets. Today, BTE exports to Russia, Japan, Korea, China, most of the European Union and other countries – nearly 40 countries in total. They were able to grow their workforce to 85 employees, up from 40 in 2001. In Texas, Polyguard Products develops and produces materials for corrosion protection and water proofing of structures and infrastructure. Founded in 1952, Polyguard started to delve into exporting in 2005. Ex-Im Bank was able to mitigate one element of uncertainty in international trade, helping Polyguard cover the credit risk of exporting. Today, the company is trading with more than 30 countries a year and has experienced a 325 percent increase in total sales. Like these companies, many small businesses have sought the assistance of Ex-Im Bank and reaped the benefits of expanded market access.
In his opening statement, Chairman Tim Johnson (D-ND) noted that Ex-Im Bank’s current authorization expires on September 30 and stated his goal to work with Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) and other members of the committee to reauthorize the Bank. Ex-Im Bank’s most recent reauthorization, in May 2012, passed with broad bipartisan support. Ranking Member Crapo also provided an opening statement that underscored the importance of assisting small business exporters and outlined the aggressive competition that comes from foreign export credit agencies around the world. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Bob Corker (R-TN), David Vitter (R-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) also participated in the hearing. An archived webcast is available online.