U.S. Senators Vote to Unleash Full Potential of Export-Import Bank After Nearly 4 Years

export-import-bankIn a bipartisan vote last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed three members for the Export-Import Bank Board of Directors to restore the export credit agency to full financing capacity.

The three members, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 8 to serve staggered terms, are:

• Kimberly Reed as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, with a term expiring in January 2021.
• Spencer T. Bachus III as a board member, with a term expiring in January 2023.
• Judith Delzoppo Pryor as a board member, with a term expiring in January 2021.

Remaining board member nominees, including one for Ex-Im Bank vice president, are lined up to be voted on in the coming weeks.

The California Chamber of Commerce sent a letter on May 3 to California’s two U.S. senators to support restoring a quorum to the Ex-Im Bank. The U.S. Senate vote to restore the Ex-Im Bank’s quorum once again allows the bank to authorize transactions greater than $10 million.

Until now, the Ex-Im Bank has not had a quorum since July 2015 and so was limited to approving transactions of $10 million or less, meaning numerous lost opportunities for U.S. businesses and their workers.

“This is a great day for U.S. exporters, their workers, and their suppliers across the country,” said Ambassador Jeffrey D. Gerrish, Ex-Im chairman and president (acting), in a May 8 statement. “Ex-Im has nearly $40 billion worth of export deals in the pipeline that can move forward in support of hundreds of thousands of American jobs. The Senate’s bipartisan votes today renew opportunities for U.S. exporters to compete on a level playing field in markets and industries where China and other nations are aggressively supporting their exporters. With Ex-Im restored to full functionality, our exporters again have a fighting chance to win export sales on the fair basis of quality and price instead of on the availability of government-backed financing.”

Broad Impact

The hundreds of workers at large businesses are not the only ones affected by lost U.S. export transactions. As explained in the CalChamber’s May 3 letter, there are strong ripple effects on the many small and medium-sized enterprises throughout the larger companies’ supply chains.

The United States is home to some of the largest supply chains in the world. Sales and employees in these supply chains depend on exports of larger clients, financed by Ex-Im. Uncertainty for large clients means diminished purchasing, which means fewer sales and a direct impact on jobs in cities and towns across the country.

Effects on U.S. businesses and workers from a lack of domestic political support for Ex-Im are exacerbated by the extraordinary steps other countries are taking to support their own exporters and national interests. Export credit agencies abroad are expanding product offerings allowing exporters to compete more aggressively, and more countries are opening new export credit agencies of their own.

With economic growth and job creation the top priorities for the United States, Ex-Im has an important role to play.
Trade offers the opportunity to expand the role of California’s exports. As one of the top economies in the world with a gross state product of more than $2.7 trillion, California exported $171.9 billion to approximately 229 foreign markets in 2017.

Record of Success

Ex-Im has a proven record of success, and turns a profit for the U.S. taxpayer. Since 2009, Ex-Im has refunded $4.8 billion to the U.S. Treasury above all costs and loss reserves.

In 2017 alone, Ex-Im Bank assisted nearly 200 California exporters, helping to support almost $900 million in exports. Over the last five years, the bank authorized $6 billion in financing to support $1.3 billion of California exports. Over this period, Ex-Im supported nearly 670 California exporters, 500 of which were small businesses, including approximately 200 minority-owned and women-owned enterprises.

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling, senior vice president, international affairs, has headed CalChamber international activities for more than four decades. She is an appointee of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the National Export Council, and serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Policy Committee, the California International Relations Foundation, and the Chile-California Council. Originally from Denmark, she studied at the University of Copenhagen and holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of the Pacific, where she served as a regent from 2012 to 2021. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. See full bio.