Ex-Im Fight Far From Finished


August 2015


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SIU President Michael Sacco says the fight to renew the U.S. Export-Import Bank isn’t finished


As we reported at our July membership meetings, the SIU and our allies from all over the country have been contacting members of Congress to call for a vote to renew the U.S. Export- Import Bank charter sooner rather than later.


The bank’s charter expired at midnight on July 1 when Congress failed to take any action before its Independence Day recess. Despite the lack of a charter, the Ex-Im Bank can remain in existence for about three months, although it’s not able to conduct its primary business, which is backing low-interest loans for the export of U.S.-made goods. Cargo generated by the bank is carried on American-flag ships.


If you’ve read our Ex-Im coverage the last couple of years, you may recall that the bank has been in existence since 1934. About 60 other nations have a similar institution to promote their goods for export around the world.


I’m used to our industry having to fight for the programs that help keep the U.S. Merchant Marine afloat, but this is another instance when our opposition’s arguments just don’t make sense to me. Opponents of the bank’s charter renewal have claimed it is corporate welfare and a drain of taxpayer dollars.


The facts say otherwise. Last year, the Ex-Im Bank supported 164,000 American private-sector jobs. Nearly 90 percent of its transactions went to small businesses. It supported $27.5 billion in U.S. exports at no cost to American taxpayers. And, it has helped reduce the country’s deficit by generating $7 billion for the U.S. Treasury in recent years.


A recent editorial in USA Today summed it up quite well, after expressing puzzlement at why anyone would attack the bank. “The truth is, American manufacturers want and need the Export-Import Bank,” the editorial stated. “It has a long history of bipartisan support in Washington and broad-based business support throughout the country. At least 59 other nations have institutions similar to the Export-Import Bank. And many go much further. China’s system of providing tax credits and various forms of insurance to exporters, for instance, far exceeds anything Washington does.”


The paper added, “Perhaps in a perfect world, governments would not get into the business of assisting or subsidizing exports. But in the world in which American companies actually operate, they do.”


Those are good points, to which I’d add, federal policies that boost and sustain trade can be beneficial for jobs and the economy, as long as they protect workers’ rights and are properly implemented. The U.S. Export-Import Bank offers a chance for American manufacturers to compete internationally and ship U.S. products into the global economy. (Did I mention those goods are moved on American-flag ships?)


The bottom line is that Ex-Im is a self-sustaining, job-creating boon for the U.S. economy. In fact, a report issued earlier this year – based on data from the Congressional Budget Office – confirmed that the Ex-Im Bank covered all of its own expenses last year, and sent the remainder to the U.S. Treasury to help pay down the national debt. At the same time, this economic asset helped create jobs for U.S.-flag exporters, shipbuilders, mariners and longshoremen.


That’s a program worth fighting for, and the SIU won’t stop until the charter is renewed.



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