Securing a level playing field internationally is vital to manufacturers in the United States, which already export about half their production, supporting millions of workers across the country. While there’s been a lot of focus on foreign barriers that impede U.S. exports, one of the most concerning problems is of our own making: the Senate’s failure to confirm nominees to the Board of Directors of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The U.S. Ex-Im Bank is a federal agency that provides loans and other tools to aid businesses in the U.S. seeking to export their products to foreign markets. Without these nominees, the Ex-Im Bank cannot even consider major deals over $10 million or even act on the reforms that Congress set out it when it last reauthorized the bank in 2015.
With the Ex-Im Bank severely weakened, manufacturers in the United States are losing sales to foreign competitors who are backed up by nearly 100 other export credit agencies around the world. Indeed, virtually every major country, from Canada to China and the UK to Ukraine, provides export financing tools that are being used to the detriment of manufacturers and workers in America. For example, China’s two Export Credit Agencies routinely help their companies out-muscle their U.S. rivals. Last year, China provided $45 billion in medium- and long-term investment support for projects around the world, more than the rest of the world combined.
While foreign countries are expanding their use of export credit, the United States has been essentially sitting on the sidelines since 2015, undermining U.S. manufacturing companies big and small and manufacturing workers across the nation. According to the National Association of Manufacturer’s estimates, manufacturers lost at least $119 billion in manufacturing output, translating into 80,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in 2016 and 2017 as a result of an inactive Bank.
This week, the NAM urgently called on the Senate leadership to come together in a bipartisan manner and vote to confirm well-qualified Ex-Im Board of Directors nominees that the Senate Banking Committee approved last week on a broad, bipartisan basis. That’s a positive step forward—and a sign that senators from both parties are ready to work together to get the Ex-Im Bank back up and running. Now the full Senate must commit to the businesses and workers that rely on the Bank by confirming these nominees as soon as possible. The cost of inaction is already too great.