Earlier today, Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg outlined the unprecedented challenges facing U.S. exporters and released the annual competitiveness report that stacks Ex-Im Bank up against other major export credit agencies (ECAs) around the world.
Chairman Hochberg said, in his remarks, “American products are the best in the world. And on a level playing field, they often come out on top. But today more than ever, foreign governments are willing to do whatever it takes to close a sale – putting massive resources behind their chosen exporters, which are often state-owned enterprises.” U.S. exporters often face head-to-head competition with competitors backed by foreign governments that offer attractive financing terms, sometimes tipping the scale for their own domestic manufacturers.
Chairman Hochberg also identified opportunities for U.S. exporters in diverse areas, from nuclear power to broader infrastructure demands, citing huge projected growth in the global middle class over the next two decades. This growth, he said, will create “massive new markets, new opportunities and, most important, a lot of jobs.” That middle class will likely demand unprecedented amounts of infrastructure – from power and water projects to airports.
While opportunities are growing overseas, exporters from the United States continue to face challenges. The Ex-Im Bank’s 2012 Competitiveness Report found that commercial bank capacity has declined since the global financial crisis, making ECAs an increasingly important tool. Many Asian countries have ambitious export plans to gain market share, and the report finds China, Korea, Japan and others are ramping up government export support.
The members of the Bank’s 2013 Advisory Committee, including former NAM Chairman and Vermeer CEO Mary Andringa, commended the Bank for its continued success in filling commercial financing gaps in support of U.S. exports. The Advisory Committee also noted that certain public policy issues – unique domestic content requirements, extensive economic impact studies and MARAD shipping requirements – continue to be a concern. The NAM has urged the Bank to address these policy issues, and is looking closely at both existing and newer U.S. policies that constrain the ability of manufacturers in the United States from utilizing Ex-Im financing to level the playing field internationally.
As the official export credit agency of the United States, Ex-Im Bank helps to fill the gaps in private export financing. In the past five years, Ex-Im was able to pay its own costs and return nearly $1.6 billion to the U.S. Treasury. In FY 2012, Ex-Im Bank approved nearly $35.8 billion in total authorizations that supported more than $50 billion in U.S. export sales and about 255,000 American jobs. The Bank provided more than than $6 billion directly in support of small-business export sales, setting an Ex-Im record. The NAM led a coalition effort in 2012 to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank through September 2014, and we will continue to make it a priority to support a strong Ex-Im Bank that will help ensure that manufacturers have access to competitive export financing that will help create and sustain U.S. jobs.