“The Export/Import Bank is a critical component of our export strategy. In a world where nobody has export subsidies, one could have a conversation about whether or not we should have one. But in a world where our competitors have export programs, and we might not, that’s putting a burden on our exporters that’s just not fair,” Lew said.
Exports are imperative to the country’s economic future and the creation of middle-class jobs, which is why the Obama administration believes the government must ensure American companies are well-financed and have fair access to overseas markets, Lew added.
Lew also called on Congress to reauthorize the US Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank), which is the government’s official export credit agency, responsible for ensuring American businesses receive adequate financing to compete in the global marketplace.
The United States was open to a global discussion about eliminating government funding of industries and allowing the free market to determine pricing, Lew asserted, but it certainly wasn’t going to expose US businesses by taking such a drastic step alone.
“But we can’t unilaterally put our companies in a position where exporters from other countries have export support and they don’t,” the Treasury chief explained, responding to questions from Senator Maria Cantwell, whose state of Washington is home to 700 aerospace suppliers, many of whom rely on the export bank’s programs.
If the state of Washington, according to Lew, is trying to sell aircraft against well-subsidized foreign aerospace companies, that have programs similar to the Ex-Im Bank, such a cost advantage is not something the aircraft provider can make up for “by running a tighter operation,” Lew claimed.
On January 29, a bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. If the bank doesn’t receive authorization by the end of June, it will be forced to shut down.
According to its mission statement, the Ex-Im Bank is charged with filling gaps in trade financing for US exporters of good and services by matching the financing foreign governments provide to their own exporters. Since 2009, the Ex-Im Bank has supported 1.2 million American jobs. Over the past 80 years, it has supported $567 billion worth of US exports.