David Ige on Free Trade
For those old enough to have worked summers in the cannery as teens, you may remember, like I do, the Ginaca machines that could peel and core a pineapple in seconds. That technology allowed Hawaii to completely dominate global markets and transformed the industry. We did not wait for someone to show us how to grow and harvest sugar and pineapple better. We did it ourselves by being innovative and entrepreneurial. As we know, global competition eventually contributed to both of their demise [so Hawaii switched to tourism]
As governors of states whose economies and workforces depend on exports, we strongly urge Congress to support legislation that provides for the long-term reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) before its charter expires on June 30, 2015. The Ex-Im Bank is a crucial tool that both small and large businesses use to compete fairly in the world market, increase their exports, stimulate job creation, and contribute to the growth of our states' economies.
As the official export credit agency of the United States, the Ex-Im Bank assumes the credit and country risks that private sector lenders are unable or unwilling to accept, and without it, U.S. firms would lose many sales to overseas competitors. The Ex-Im Bank allows our companies and workers to compete on a level playing field against international competitors who receive extensive support from their own export credit agencies.
In 2014, the Ex-Im Bank supplied more than $20 billion in financing to support approximately $27 billion in exports. In that same fiscal year, the Ex-Im Bank supported more than 160,000 American jobs. And the overwhelming majority of the Ex-Im Bank's transactions--nearly 90 percent--assisted small businesses.
The Ex-Im Bank is financially self-sustaining, and operates at no cost to hard-working American taxpayers. In fact, in fiscal year 2014 alone, the Ex-Im Bank returned approximately $675 million in deficit-reducing receipts to the U.S. Treasury.
Last year, Congress reauthorized the Ex-Im Bank [for one year]. It is essential that both chambers act again, this time to pass a long-term, multi-year reauthorization.