U.S. industry groups urge Congress to renew Export-Import bank charter

July 25, 2019 9:56 PM

By Jonas Ekblom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two large U.S. industry trade groups urged lawmakers on Thursday to pass a Senate bill to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank as soon as possible to give exporters a decade of financing certainty.

"We need long-term certainty that the Ex-Im Bank will be able to continue helping manufacturers of all types and sizes secure new sales overseas," the National Association of Manufacturers said in a statement.

The Aerospace Industries Association, representing 340 aerospace companies, said separately that U.S. exporters "cannot afford for the Bank to halt its important work."

The bill, introduced on Thursday by Republican Kevin Cramer and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema would renew the bank's charter for 10 years instead of the usual four.

The government export lender, whose charter expires on Sept. 30, has been hamstrung much of the past four years by efforts among conservative Republicans in Congress to shut it down and thwart the confirmation of new board members.

The EXIM bank supports the exports of U.S. companies through government-backed export financing and loan guarantees. From July 2015 through May 2019, the bank was unable to finance projects larger than $10 million, excluding it from deals involving commercial aircraft, power infrastructure and other large projects.

The agency has been a popular target for conservatives, who have branded it a provider of "corporate welfare" and "crony capitalism" and an important agency for large U.S. manufacturers such as Boeing Co (NYSE: BA), General Electric Co (NYSE: GE) and Caterpillar Inc (NYSE: CAT) to enable sales abroad.

But President Donald Trump's administration has voiced strong support for EXIM as a tool to help boost U.S. exports amid a growing arms race by government export financing agencies.

(Reporting by Jonas Ekblom; Editing by Peter Cooney)