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Rep. Clyburn urges support of Export-Import Bank reauthorization

Source: GSA Business

July 7, 2014

House Assistant Democratic Leader and S.C. Rep. James E. Clyburn is urging all of the state’s congressional members to support reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, because it supports South Carolina’s large and growing manufacturing export businesses.

The bank is the official export credit agency of the United States, and according to data supplied to the S.C. House of Representatives, it operates at no cost to the taxpayer and, in 2012-13, returned to the Treasury more than $2.1 billion above the cost of its operations.

“Exports play a major role in our state’s economy, constituting nearly 15% of gross domestic product. Recent growth in South Carolina exports has been driven largely by the Boeing Co., which has created more than 6,000 jobs (and counting) in North Charleston and many more at suppliers throughout the state,” Clyburn wrote to his colleagues in Congress.

“To ensure that their exports are competitive in the global market, Boeing and many other S.C. companies rely on loans, guarantees, and export-credit insurance from the Export Import Bank of the United States.”

Clyburn has been at odds with conservative Republicans for years over the continued existence of the Export-Import Bank. One of his primary foes on the issue for years was former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. DeMint resigned from the Senate in mid-term to head the Heritage Foundation, a conservative lobbying organization that is now fighting to kill the Export-Import bank. DeMint and allies within the U.S. House of Representatives say the Export-Import Bank is “corporate welfare” and not worthy of taxpayer support.

According to data from the Export-Import Bank and distributed by Clyburn, 29 exporting companies in South Carolina benefit from the bank’s support. That includes 18 small businesses, two minority-owned businesses, three women-owned businesses, and one renewable energy business.

Local companies benefit

The top exporters from South Carolina were Boeing Co. in North Charleston, Confluence Holdings Corp. of Easley and Synalloy Corp. of Spartanburg.

In a primary campaign appearance at the GE turbine plant in Greenville, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham reaffirmed his support for the bank. Some 90% of the products made at the GE plant are exported, officials said, in some cases assisted by Export-Import Bank financing.

Graham told the GE workers that he would “make sure that the American Ex-Im Bank stays open, and we’re not unilaterally disarmed,” according to coverage by the Wall Street Journal.

The National Association of Manufacturers asserts that the U.S. Export-Import Bank is a vital tool to help increase U.S. exports and American jobs.

“As the official export credit agency of the United States, Ex-Im Bank assists in financing U.S. exports from thousands of American companies and bolsters our global competitiveness. In fact, nearly 90% of Export-Import Bank’s transactions directly support U.S. small business,” the association states.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank’s current charter is set to expire in September. A fight is expected in the U.S. House over its reauthorization.

“A lapse in authorization would threaten the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States — particularly small and medium-sized manufacturers,” the association said.

But the bank’s opponents insist that the bank distorts the marketplace.

"With strong growth in privately financed exports, there is no justification for maintaining this Depression-era relic," wrote Diane Katz, a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity.

Katz and others argue that taxpayers should not be financing overseas business ventures that undercut U.S. companies. Delta Airlines opposes reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank, saying that it allows foreign airlines a competitive advantage over U.S.-based airlines.

$700 million in exports

Clyburn said that in the past 18 months, the bank had supported nearly $700 million in S.C. export sales by 29 companies, including 18 small businesses.

Clyburn explained that with the bank’s authorization set to expire in September, S.C. jobs will be at risk unless Congress acts to reauthorize it. Earlier this month the S.C. Legislature approved a resolution urging Congress to do so.

“Any argument that the Ex-Im Bank is unnecessary ignores the fact that foreign governments will continue to support their companies in similar ways,” Clyburn wrote. “If Congress lets the Ex-Im Bank die, Boeing and other S.C. companies would find themselves at a competitive disadvantage, and our working people would suffer grievous harm.”

Press reports this week have suggested the ideological enemies of the Export-Import Bank could be winning, and that the bank’s days may be numbered.

“Regardless of what our ideological predilections dictate should happen in a perfect world, we must take the world as we find it and not abandon S.C. jobs to the whims of partisan politics,” Clyburn wrote.

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