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U.S. Has Market-Share ‘Window’ on Europe Weakness, Hochberg Says

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. companies have a “unique window of opportunity” to grab market share from competitors because of economic weakness in Europe, said Fred Hochberg, chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned today that “time is running out” for Greece to meet the terms of a 130 billion-euro ($170 billion) bailout. The International Monetary Fund said last month the euro-area economy faces a recession this year, citing deteriorating bank balance sheets in Europe and saying that bank funding “all but dried up” in the region.

“As there’s some difficulty in Europe, United States manufacturers can pick up market share,” Hochberg said in an interview today in Ho Chi Minh City during the second day of a four-day visit to Vietnam. Companies in the 17-nation euro region may face difficulty in getting financing and “that’s an opportunity for American companies.”

The Export-Import Bank provides loans, credit insurance and loan guarantees to help American exports compete with financing by foreign governments on behalf of their own companies, according to a document provided by the bank describing its mission.

The American economy is “turning,” with job creation accelerating, Hochberg said. U.S. employers added 243,000 jobs in January, the biggest gain in nine months, and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent from 8.5 percent in December, the Labor Department reported last week in Washington.

The figures point to “more sustainable” economic growth, according to Hochberg, who said the U.S. is “very well on track” to meet a pledge made by President Barack Obama in 2010 to double American exports by 2015.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jason Folkmanis in Ho Chi Minh City at folkmanis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at pohirschberg@bloomberg.net

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