Congress should keep the Export-Import Bank
Supposedly pro-business legislators who want to kill the Export-Import Bank of the United States claim that the bank doesn't do anything that private-sector markets can't do by themselves.
That is dubious to begin with, since the bank exists to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. exports - deals that they otherwise would not be able to finance in the private marketplace.
Beyond that, killing the bank would be a case of slow-motion suicide for many U.S. exports because the market itself is not level. Around the world, at least 60 institutions like the U.S. Ex-Im bank help finance export sales of their home countries' products - to the tune of about $1 trillion a year. Eliminating the bank would create a serious disadvantage for U.S. exporters.
The single largest American company that relies on the Ex-Im Bank to help foreign companies finance purchases of its products is Boeing. Several U.S. airlines oppose the Ex-Im bank because it helps foreign carriers buy Boeing planes. Those carriers use the aircraft to compete with U.S. airlines on many routes.
Eliminating the bank would not eliminate that route competition, however. The European Union has a similar financing mechanism, so the foreign airlines still would compete on the routes, but using aircraft produced by Airbus Industries in Europe rather than by Boeing in the United States.
Other major manufacturers, including Caterpillar, General Electric and other producers of expensive, high-tech products, also rely on the Ex-Im Bank to help finance exports.
But the bank also is important to small and medium-sized manufacturers. In Pennsylvania alone, according to Sen. Bob Casey, the bank helps more than 200 businesses export about $2 billion worth of products every year.
The move to kill the bank is rooted in ideology rather than the need to maintain the global competitiveness of U.S. industries and the millions of jobs that exports support. Congress should re-authorize the 80-year-old institution, which helped more than 2,700 companies sell $50 billion worth of products overseas in 2012.