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November 18, 2019

Export-Import Bank changes expected to help boost Maine businesses

A woman wearing safety glasses talks to another woman in a lab coat at a table with rolled-up textiles. Photo / Tim Greenway Auburn Manufacturing, of Mechanic Falls, is one of 15 Maine companies that are customers of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. Pictured is CEO Kathie Leonard, in 2018.
What Maine companies benefit from EXIM and what is their export value?
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Maine businesses that sell products internationally should get a boost from a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives Friday.

The legislation, the U.S. Finance Export Agency Act of 2019, adds rule changes that will release a logjam of $40 billion in unapproved transactions, as well as increase the amount the bank can lend exporters.

If approved by the U.S. Senate, will support and increase jobs in Maine, where it supports $36 million in exports from businesses in the state, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine 2nd District, said in a news release.

The bank, commonly known as EXIM, helps fill gaps in private financing for American goods and services that are sold abroad. It uses loan guarantees, insurance, access to capital and buyer financing to help American businesses better compete with foreign ones that are often subsidized.

Since 2015, a partisan divide in Congress has blocked nominations to fill empty seats for the bank's board of directors, and lack of a quorum has kept $40 billion in new transactions from being approved. The legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., would allow the bank to perform its functions without a quorum on its board.

Proponents of the legislation said the nonprocessed transactions would support 250,000 jobs across the country. The legislation also increases by 30% the amount the bank can finance yearly.

Golden and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine 1st District, both voted to approve the legislation, which passed the House 235-184.

“Expanding to new markets is one of the best ways for many businesses in our state to grow and add new jobs,” Golden said in the news release. “The Export-Import Bank helps create those expansion opportunities, providing critical services that many companies need to export their ‘Made in America’ products and compete on a fair playing field against foreign companies.

Impact on Maine

In Maine, 15 businesses have been supported by EXIM since 2014. The figure doesn't include other businesses with that have benefited in the past, but have been slowed by the logjam, like GE Power in Bangor.

Of the Maine businesses, 14 are classified as small business by the bank; two are minority-owned and two are women-owned, according to the bank's website. The 15 Maine-based companies represent $36 million total export value related to EXIM's authorized financing or insurance, and $29 million that EXIM agreed to insurance or finance, through an insurance policy, loan guarantee or direct loan.

The top destinations for Maine products are the United Kingdom, Germany and Mexico, and the top industries are chemical manufacturing and sales, other miscellaneous manufacturing sales, non-capital equipment, and textile mill products and sales. 

"The bill I voted to pass through the House today will allow the agency to serve more small businesses and protect more jobs," Golden said. "The legislation will also prevent Congress from playing politics with the agency, changing the rules governing EXIM so that it can’t be held hostage by Washington in-fighting.”

Eric Anderson, plant manager at GE Power, said that the bank is important to businesses of any size. “From large employers like GE to small family-owned businesses, Maine manufacturers need tools to help them compete, succeed in today’s global marketplace, and provide more good jobs to Mainers," he said in the release.

Anderson said that his company looks forward to working with Golden "to make long-term reauthorization a reality.”

Also benefiting from EXIM is Auburn Manufacturing in Mechanic Falls. “My company has benefited greatly from EXIM’s export insurance, which helps us ship product outside of the U.S.," said Kathie Leonard, president and CEO. "We are now able to sell to foreign customers the same way we sell to customers here at home. With EXIM’s help, we are a small company that now sells throughout the world — over 30 countries and counting."


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