U.S. Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg said he’s optimistic that the agency will build enough support to survive lawmakers’ efforts to abolish it this year.
“This is certainly more controversial” than previous reauthorizations of the bank’s charter, Hochberg said in an interview in Shanghai today. “We had a large bipartisan majority last time and we are working to continue that.”
Hochberg and his allies face a Sept. 30 deadline to renew the 80-year-old government bank’s charter, with some House Republicans calling for its demise on the grounds that aid for companies including Boeing Co. is unnecessary. The Obama administration is highlighting competition from abroad in its bid to sustain the agency, which provides loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to foreign buyers of U.S. goods.
“I’m optimistic that we will get this thing done,” said Hochberg, 62. “China is a formidable competitor,” and “we want to make sure when U.S. companies compete we are not going to lose an order because of the financing,” he said.
Ex-Im’s China exposure has increased to $3.4 billion from $1.4 billion in 2009 as it provided Chinese companies including Air China Ltd. (753) with loans and guarantees to buy U.S. aircraft and agricultural equipment, Hochberg said. China was the U.S.’s second-largest trading partner in 2013 and the third-largest export market, according to U.S. data.
President Barack Obama wants to reauthorize the lender for five years, and gradually raise its lending limit to $160 billion from the current $140 billion. A proposal by Representative John Campbell, a California Republican, would keep the bank in business for three years and trim the lending cap to $95 billion. The agency was last reauthorized in 2012.
“We are here to fill a gap,” Hochberg said. “We are here when the private sector is unable or unwilling to make a loan.”
To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jun Luo in Shanghai at email@example.com