Houston Community Newspapers
Congress should reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank
By Mayor Maher Maso
May 12, 2015
As Mayor of Frisco, I work with our City Council and City Manager to deliver results for my city’s residents each and every day – such as responding to public safety emergencies, delivering water and sewer services, meeting the needs of an expanding population, mowing the grass in the parks, and maintaining roadways. Those results directly impact the economy and quality of life in our community They are crucial to Frisco’s success in improving opportunity, investment, and jobs to our city.
Similarly, the U.S. Export-Import Bank (also known as the “Ex-Im”), a small federal agency, makes a big impact for American companies trying to sell their goods overseas. Frisco and North Texas businesses benefit from Ex-Im.
Exporting goods throughout the globe is a risky business. Problems ranging from political and economic instability to navigating the different economic and legal systems make it hard for traditional banks to extend credit to many customers around the world. So, the Ex-Im Bank helps fill in the gaps in the private market – the proverbial roadway potholes in the international banking system – by providing financing, loan guarantees and insurance so American companies are protected when doing business around the globe.
Nearly, 9,000 American companies have used Ex-Im since 2007, helping them export about $300 billion in U.S. goods. During that time, nearly 1,700 Texas businesses exported $29 billion in goods, thanks to Ex-Im.
These exports supported 1.2 million American jobs – roughly equal to the entire population of Dallas. Without Ex-Im many of these jobs wouldn’t have existed.
Additionally, just this past month the Ex-Im was named one of America’s Top Government Agencies for Multicultural Business Opportunities.
Small businesses in Frisco and across the region rely on Ex-Im. Companies such as Cornerstone Automation Systems, which manufactures equipment designed to help companies streamline their packaging, distribution, inventory systems, has been able to export $30 million of goods thanks to Ex-Im. Blade Energy Partners’ 70 engineers, scientists, and project managers help their clients safely drill for oil and gas in some of the most remote places on Earth. Ex-Im has helped them export $50 million worth of goods and services.
Also, Polyguard, a Texas-based manufacturer of protective coatings for pipelines, was able to break into the global marketplace thanks to Ex-Im starting in 2005. Before they found Ex-Im, executives couldn’t find private export insurance. They were told that they were just too small. But thanks to Ex-Im’s insurance and export financing, Polyguard now exports to 34 countries. They have been able to more than double their number of employees thanks to increasing sales by 338%. The companies President credits Ex-Im for this growth.
And there is Air Tractor, an employee-owned company that makes small airplanes used to fight fires or to fertilize crops. They have been using Ex-Im’s services for over 20 years. 60% of their business is selling these planes overseas.
Unfortunately, this agency that has enjoyed broad, bipartisan support since it was founded in 1934 is under attack. In the rightful effort to shrink government, often targets could be wrongly hit causing real-world consequences.
Ex-Im is open to all American companies who sell goods abroad. From what I know, there are not special favors given to the well off or well connected. Reports show that roughly 90 percent of Ex-Im’s transactions are with small and medium size businesses having no special influence in Washington, D.C, apart from the success they have in providing jobs to constituents.
Further, Ex-Im’s charter bars it from competing against private alternatives. Companies must show there is no commercial option before Ex-Im can even offer to help, so no private sector options are being displaced.
Ex-Im’s conservative, low-risk loan practices mean the Bank’s default rate is five times lower than that of average commercial banks. And since Ex-Im charges fees to foreign buyers of American goods on transactions supported by the Bank, Ex-Im is not only self-sustaining but it returns a profit to the U.S. Treasury every year.
Hopefully, our leaders in Washington will understand that jobs are based on trade market and that they will vote to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank before it expires on June 30th, so the Bank can continue its success aiding US companies in the trade markets – just like we improve opportunity, investment, and jobs here in Texas.