You’ve probably seen a lot in the news recently on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) of the United States.
Recently, a group of congressional members have mounted an effort to shut down the bank. They and their special interest allies are trying to kill Ex-Im for purely political reasons.
Both of South Carolina’s senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, are staunch supporters of Ex-Im reauthorization. Last week, Sen. Graham tested the waters for reauthorization offering an amendment renewing the Ex-Im’s charter that was later withdrawn, to the National Defense Authorization legislation. Though symbolic, the vote received bipartisan support in the Senate 65-31 in favor of the bank’s reauthorization.
The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce is also a strong supporter of the Ex-Im Bank and we want to explain why it’s important here in South Carolina. The Ex-Im Bank is the official export credit agency of the U.S., and assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. The bank supports billions of dollars of U.S. exports and hundreds of thousands of export-related U.S. jobs each year.
The Ex-Im helps to support more than 17,000 jobs in our state through 72 different companies. In the 1st and 6th congressional districts, Ex-Im has supported 16 companies and more than 12,600 jobs.
Critics say Ex-Im isn’t needed — that commercial banks should be doing this job rather than the government — while ignoring the fact that Ex-Im is barred by law from competing against commercial banks.
Critics also make the bizarre claim that Ex-Im hurts taxpayers. Since Ex-Im charges fees for its services and interest on the loans it makes, Ex-Im doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime.
Because Ex-Im collects more than it costs to run, most years the bank returns money to the Treasury. Over the past six years, Ex-Im has generated a surplus of $2.7 million.
Since its establishment in 1934, the Export-Import Bank of the United States has supported billions of U.S. export dollars and provided thousands of export-related jobs each year. The bank helps to keep U.S. businesses globally competitive. If Congress does not act now to reauthorize, the bank will expire on June 30.
In our region, we support reauthorization of Ex-Im for two main reasons:
1) This issue is of critical importance to Boeing South Carolina and Boeing’s ability to successfully compete with global aircraft manufacturers. In North Charleston, eight of every 10 of the 787s being assembled are eligible for Ex-Im financing. If Ex-Im is shut down, Boeing will lose its competitive edge — a fact that could impact the more than 7,500 jobs here.
2) The Chamber’s World Trade Center Charleston (WTCC) is directly tied to Ex-Im. As an Ex-Im partner, WTCC can provide additional resources in trade finance expertise to businesses interested in exporting their products and services.
At least 59 other countries have similar export credit agencies. If Congress eliminates Ex-Im, it will only be hurting American businesses by taking away an option that helps them compete globally.
If Ex-Im is a tool that helps American companies and does not cost the American taxpayer any money, why isn’t Congress acting now to reauthorize? Congress has less than 15 days to act.
I urge you to contact your representatives and ask them to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. It’s important to our global competitiveness, and it’s important to our jobs.
Bryan Derreberry is president and CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.