CalChamber Urges U.S. Senators to Unleash Full Potential of Export-Import Bank

The California Chamber of Commerce is urging members to ask California’s two U.S. senators to support restoring a quorum to the Export-Import Bank.

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

The CalChamber is asking members to follow its lead in sending letters to U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris supporting the nomination of Kimberly Reed to serve as President/Chair of the Ex-Im Bank and to continue the process to bring the Ex-Im Bank Board to a full quorum as promptly as possible.

An overwhelming majority in Congress voted to fully reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank in December 2015. Nevertheless, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee stymied the bank’s full restoration by blocking action on nominees required to achieve a quorum for the Ex-Im Bank Board in 2016.

The bank’s inability to approve transactions exceeding $10 million extends the profound impact of the quorum lapse to larger exporters, the thousands of smaller companies that supply them, and the hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs depend on exports.

Broad Impact

The hundreds of workers at large businesses are not the only ones affected by lost U.S. export transactions; 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 has 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 (ECAs) abroad are expanding product offerings allowing exporters to compete more aggressively, and more countries are opening new ECAs 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.

In its September 25 letter to California’s two U.S. senators, the CalChamber explains the importance of confirming nominees to the Ex-Im Board to return it to a quorum. Failure to restore the full authority of the bank will seriously disadvantage U.S. companies—small and large—in foreign markets, potentially resulting in the loss of thousands of U.S. jobs.

On August 20, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee voted to advance the nomination of Reed to head the ExIm Bank for a term ending on January 20, 2021. The committee vote was a unanimous 25-0. The full U.S. Senate is expected to act on confirming the nomination this fall.

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.

Action Needed

The U.S. Senate should confirm Ex-Im Bank President/Chair nominee Kimberly Reed and continue the process to restore the quorum and full authority to the Ex-Im Bank before any more harm is done to U.S. exporters and the workers they employ.

Please visit www.calchambervotes.com for a sample message and write or call your senators. Tell them to vote in support of the Ex-Im Bank.

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

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Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling, vice president, international affairs, has headed the CalChamber international activities for nearly four decades. She is a gubernatorial appointee to the California Trade and Investment Advisory Council. She also serves on the District Export Council (appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce), the National Export Council Steering Committee, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Committee, 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 now serves as a regent. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California.