WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley called on Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Richard Shelby to act on strong bipartisan support for the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank by confirming the EXIM Bank Board of Directors nominee to restore the operating quorum. Small businesses across America, including 67 in Oregon, rely on the EXIM Bank to finance deals in foreign markets where there are growing economic opportunities. If the Senate Banking Committee continues to fail to move on EXIM nominees, these small businesses will miss out on crucial growth opportunities and lose hard earned revenues. In order to help keep Oregon businesses strong, Senator Merkley encouraged the Committee to act on President Obama’s nominee Mark McWatters to serve on the EXIM Board of Directors and form a fully functioning export credit agency.
“We cannot allow the EXIM Board’s to languish without a quorum. Otherwise, businesses that benefit from EXIM will be forced to continue to losing contracts to foreign competitors resulting is lost revenues and jobs. The Senate must move to quickly confirm a nominee to at least one of the three remaining vacancies or risk missing opportunities for growth for small, medium, and large U.S. companies,” said Senator Merkley.
The EXIM Bank has been particularly supportive of Oregon jobs and small businesses, enabling Oregon’s hardworking companies to more easily export billions of dollars of goods around the world. Over the past nine years in Oregon alone, the EXIM Bank has supported 88 companies (including 67 small businesses), created 6,400 new jobs, and spurred $1 billion dollars in exports. Without a fully functioning EXIM Bank, American businesses like these 88 Oregon companies are put at a competitive disadvantage with foreign competitors who are offered similar services in their markets.
As the Banking Committee stalls on the EXIM Bank Board nomination process, only two of the five seats on the Board are currently filled. The quorum requires three of five seats to approve loan guarantees and other financing tools valued in excess of $10 million for medium- and long-term transactions. Without the quorum, the EXIM Bank cannot operate at full capacity to support the small businesses that desperately need its help.
“The Export-Import Bank is an important resource that allows Bulk Handling Systems to compete in equal terms against our competitors in other countries who have similar programs,” said Eugene-based Bulk Handling Systems CEO Steve Miller. “Since EXIM’s reauthorization, Congress has not done the work to fill out the current board. We would encourage them to complete the board that so we can take full advantage of this important program.”
“Bob’s Red Mill relies on the EX-IM Bank to support our international growth by allowing us to provide competitive terms for our export customers,” said Milwaukie, Oregon-based Bob’s Red Mill CFO Trey Winthrop. “We also appreciate how easy it is to set up new customers and change credit terms.”
“The Exim bank credit insurance policies have been critical to our success in shipping US produced forest products to foreign markets,” said Portland-based Concannon Corporation co-founder Bryan Concannon. “The jobs created by these sales are real and some were lost during the period where coverage was not available. Anyone that is concerned about good middle class jobs should support the EXIM bank.”
The full text of the letter follows below.
August 11, 2016
The Honorable Richard Shelby
Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee
534 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Shelby,
Small businesses across America rely on the Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank) to help finance or insure deals in foreign markets where there are growing economic opportunities. It is critical for the Senate Banking Committee to move on the current EXIM nominee. Without a fully functioning export credit agency American businesses are being put at a competitive disadvantage with foreign competitors who are offered similar services in their markets. I urge you to act on President Obama’s nominee Mark McWatters to serve on the EXIM Bank Board of Directors.
Established in 1934, the EXIM Bank has been a key player in supporting countless American jobs, and enabling American businesses to export billions of dollars’ worth of goods around the world. In my home state of Oregon alone, over the last nine years, the EXIM Bank has supported 88 companies—67 of which are small businesses, created 6,400 jobs and facilitated $1 billion dollars in exports.
Since it was reauthorized in December 2015, the EXIM Bank has built a pipeline of transactions, many of which must come before the Board for review and approval. The transactions currently awaiting approval by the EXIM Bank Board total more than $20 billion.
However, there are currently only two of the five seats on the EXIM Bank Board filled—one less than the quorum required to approve loan guarantees and other financing tools valued in excess of $10 million for medium- and long-term transactions. These transactions account for approximately two-thirds of all EXIM Bank transactions by dollar value and support thousands of small businesses throughout the supply chain.
We cannot allow the EXIM Board’s to languish without a quorum. Otherwise businesses that benefit from EXIM will be forced to continue to losing contracts to foreign competitors resulting is lost revenues and jobs. The Senate must move to quickly confirm a nominee to at least one of the three remaining vacancies or risk missing opportunities for growth for small, medium, and large U.S. companies.
In Oregon, Bulk Handling Systems—a Eugene-based company that designs, manufactures, and installs process systems for recycling—planned to expand into Asian markets, but the vacancies on EXIM’s Board made the Oregon company’s financing request unanswerable. Bulk Handling Systems lost an international customer to an Asian supplier, costing the Oregon company $10 million in lost revenue and 25 jobs. Bulk Handling Systems is just one example of an American company that has missed out on a growth opportunity because of the Banking Committee’s failure to move on EXIM nominees.
Bob’s Red Mill is an employee-owned Milwaukie, Oregon company. It was started by Bob Moore in 1978 and today now produces over 400 products, including a wide range of flours and grain mill products. Since 2012, Bob’s Red Mill has used the EXIM’s export credit insurance product to boost export sales by 35%, grow to more than 400 employees, and hire six international sales people. Due to EXIM Bank’s lapse in authorization, major plans to expand into Asian markets are on hold and can’t move forward, halting Bob’s Red Mill’s international growth.
Concannon Corporation, a small business exporter based in Portland, has been in the business of supplying quality forest products like lumber and plywood to its customers since 1980. The company has customers from all over the world, including Mexico, Vietnam, China, Spain, Germany and Austria. Concannon is one of the heaviest users of the EXIM single buyer policy, also known as ESS—a short term insurance policy used for exporters seeking insurance for only one foreign buyer. Concannon has over 10 current ESS policies and ten policies which expired in September during EXIM’s lapse. As 25% of the company’s sales are exports, the lapse in EXIM’s authority will significantly curb its sales and growth potential.
There is strong bipartisan support in Congress for the EXIM Bank so there is no reason to let these and other companies see lost revenues at the hands of the government. Last year, the Senate voted multiple times to reauthorize the Bank, with two-thirds of the Senate voting in favor each time. In the House of Representatives, a strong majority of 313 Democrats and Republicans also voted to reauthorize the EXIM Bank, ultimately culminating in a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives reauthorizing the EXIM Bank as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law in December 2015.
Given the strong Congressional support for the EXIM Bank and the number of companies that use this agency’s services, I encourage you to restore the operating quorum on the EXIM Bank Board of Directors and consider EXIM nominee before the Banking Committee in the near future.
Jeffrey A. Merkley
United States Senator
cc: Hon. Sherrod Brown, Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee