Widespread Support Voiced For U.S. Export-Import Bank


August 2014


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American Maritime labor is continuing its vigorous push to spur congressional reauthorization of the United States Export-Import Bank, and many others also have recently voiced support.

American maritime labor is continuing its vigorous push to spur congressional reauthorization of the United States Export-Import Bank, and many others also have recently voiced support.


The SIU and other maritime unions have pointed out the Export-Import Bank (sometimes abbreviated as Ex-Im) is very important to the U.S. Merchant Marine. It is a valued source for good American jobs in the maritime industry and in other sectors of the U.S. economy.


SIU President Michael Sacco, in his role as president of the AFL-CIO’s Maritime Trades Department, recently sent a letter to Congress urging reauthorization. He pointed out cargo generated by Ex-Im funding must be transported aboard U.S.-flag vessels, which means tens of thousands of jobs for American citizens throughout the country. These ships and their crews are a vital part of our country’s national security, Sacco said.


In addition to its support of the U.S. Merchant Marine, the Export-Import Bank has helped maintain 1.2 million American jobs overall since 2009, according to numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Backers also have pointed out that the Export-Import Bank does not cost American taxpayers a cent. It covers its activities through the fees and interest charged for its services. In fact, it has returned money to the U.S. Treasury that has been used to reduce the national debt.


Nevertheless, it is potentially on the chopping block – its charter must be renewed by September 30, something that requires approval from both houses of Congress. Critics of the export credit agency call it crony capitalism or handouts to big business. Supporters – including the unlikely pairing of the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – rightly describe it as a jobs program that is good for labor and management alike.


Among those also stepping up in support of reauthorization is the Navy League of the United States, a highly regarded, nonprofit group dedicated to promoting America’s sea services. In an early July letter to Congress, Navy League National Executive Director Bruce Butler noted, “The strength of the U.S.-flag Merchant Marine depends on the Export-Import Bank and we urge Congress to reauthorize it.”


He continued, “The Export-Import Bank has promoted economic growth and created and sustained U.S. jobs, including mariner jobs and [others] tied to our national and economic security. The Department of Defense depends on the U.S. Merchant Marine for over 95 percent of our national defense sealift needs in times or war or national emergency, and Export-Import Bank financed project cargoes are regularly carried on the most militarily useful vessels. Replacing this sealift capacity would cost the Department of Defense tens of billions of dollars.”


In late June, a group of 41 House Republicans called on the leadership in the House of Representatives “to expedite consideration of the United States Export-Import Bank to ensure job creators ... have the certainty they need to compete in the global marketplace.”


Their joint letter said that in Fiscal Year 2013, “Ex-Im enabled more than $37 billion in export sales from more than 3,800 U.S. companies, supporting approximately 205,000 American jobs, all at no cost to the taxpayers…. Failure to reauthorize Ex-Im would amount to unilateral disarmament in the face of other nations’ aggressive efforts to help their exporters. In recent years, 60 official export credit agencies worldwide have extended more than $1 trillion in export finance. Germany, France, China, Brazil, India, and Korea have their own equivalents of Ex-Im, and in recent years they have provided two to seven times the level of support for their exporters that Ex-Im has provided to U.S. exporters.”


The GOP legislators added, “Given our nation’s fragile economic recovery, we must continue to promote U.S. exports and create American jobs and not disadvantage U.S. manufacturers in a competitive global marketplace. This is a program that generates not only exports and jobs, but also much-needed revenue for the federal government.”

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