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Trade Chief Lighthizer: 'No Excuse' for Idle Export-Import Bank

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By    |   Wednesday, 27 February 2019 03:51 PM

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that the lack of a functioning Export-Import Bank is hurting the U.S. economy.

The Export–Import Bank is a government agency that provides a variety of loan, guarantee, and insurance products intended to aid the export of American goods and services.

Lighthizer said during testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee that "the answer is yes," the bank's inability to fully function is having an adverse impact.

"And it's way beyond China," he said in response to questioning from Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis. "And it's costing us jobs and there's no excuse for it, in my opinion."

The Washington Examiner explained that business groups have called the bank an essential tool for reaching foreign markets, while critics, ranging from conservatives like Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have called it a form of corporate welfare.

The bank, which guarantees loans for foreign buyers of U.S. exports, has been effectively paralyzed for more than three years due to its board lacking a quorum, the Examiner reported.

The Export-Import Bank for years has been unable to approve deals worth more than $10 million after senators, mostly Republicans, blocked the confirmation of new board members, including ones picked by President Trump, Politico reported.

To be sure, the argument about the fate of the bank has recently spilled over into the pages of the Washington Post.

“For more than three years, Boeing and other big companies have competed and won in international markets, without taxpayer help. If they can compete on their own, then they should compete on their own,” opinion writer Charles Lane recently wrote.

However, Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States from 2009 to 2017, argued that the Export-Import Bank plays a critical role in supporting U.S. businesses.

“In countries around the world, there are some 100 export credit agencies working to ensure their respective companies have a level playing field against foreign competition. It baffles me that some want to eliminate Ex-Im and put our exporters at a disadvantage to companies in China, Japan and the European Union, " wrote Hochberg, and deputy and acting administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 1998 to 2001.

"Ex-Im is a rare government entity that supports U.S. jobs, spends no taxpayer dollars, provides no subsidies or tax breaks, and actually makes money for the U.S. treasury. Instead of eliminating it, leaders in both parties should support its mission in full and confirm its board now," Hochberg wrote.

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that the lack of a functioning Export-Import Bank is hurting the U.S. economy.
trade, lighthizer, export, import, bank
Wednesday, 27 February 2019 03:51 PM
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