As exporters and lenders converged in Washington for the annual Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank conference last week, they heard a clear message from National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons.
“At a time when manufacturing has captured the imagination of our leaders and the American people, I know our policymakers are eager to implement a strategy that will make our companies as competitive as possible in every market. I see the Ex-Im Bank as a vital component of that strategy.” – NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons (April 6, 2017)
Mr. Timmons was joined on stage by BTE Technologies President Charles Wetherington, who highlighted the import role that the Ex-Im Bank plays in supporting small business exporters.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross gave video remarks at the conference, noting that the Ex-Im Bank “is part of a domestically focused trade toolbox that this administration will continue to focus on in the coming months.” He added, “We will use that toolbox to rebalance our trade policy in order to put American workers first.” Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon also spoke at the conference, highlighting the work that the SBA does to help small businesses grow from local entrepreneurs to global exporters. In his opening remarks at the conference, Acting Ex-Im Bank Chairman Charles Hall addressed the rise of China in the global market and China’s robust use of official export credit compared to the United States.
While President Donald Trump has not yet announced any nominees for the Ex-Im Bank Board of Directors, he confirmed his support for the export credit agency in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week.
“It turns out that, first of all, lots of small companies will really be helped, the vendor companies, but also maybe more importantly, other countries give it. And when other countries give it, we lose a tremendous amount of business. So instinctively, you would say it’s a ridiculous thing, but actually, it’s a very good thing, and it actually makes money. You know, it actually could make a lot of money.” – President Donald Trump (April 12, 2017)
Year after year, about 90 percent of Ex-Im’s transactions—more than 2,300 deals in fiscal 2016—directly supported small businesses. Tens of thousands of small business suppliers also benefit from their domestic sales to large exporters that also utilize the Ex-Im Bank. Over the past two decades, the Ex-Im Bank has generated $7 billion for taxpayers by charging fees to foreign customers. The agency is self-sustaining and covers its own operating costs, transferring $284 million in deficit-reducing receipts to the U.S. Treasury for fiscal 2016.
As manufacturers, our message is straightforward: we need a fully operational export credit agency to level the playing field. Manufacturers are losing out on opportunities every day that the vacancies on the Ex-Im Bank Board of Directors are left unfilled, and companies like Click Bond in Nevada and U.S. Bridge in Ohio are making the case for swift action on these nominees.