President Barack Obama signed a bill reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, raising its lending authority 40 percent to $140 billion by 2014 to boost U.S. export sales and increase jobs.
Strengthening the economy requires “making sure that we’re not just known as a nation that consumes,” the president said today at a signing ceremony. “We’ve got to be a nation that produces.”
Renewing the charter ends a months-long battle for survival for the 78-year-old-bank, the official export credit agency of the U.S. Its mission is to help finance the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets with working capital guarantees, export credit insurance, loan guarantees and direct loans to buyers.
Aside from higher lending limits, the immediate effect of the law is to widen financing to include U.S. aviation-industry exports, specifically transactions of U.S.-produced goods and services for aftermarket use on foreign-manufactured aircraft, bank President Fred P. Hochberg said May 25.
The measure represents an election-year victory for Obama, who had pressed for the bank’s reauthorization to help aid export sales and job growth. He has set a goal of doubling U.S. exports to $3.14 trillion a year by the end of 2014, from $1.57 trillion in 2009.
The administration is counting on exports to help drive down the unemployment rate, which has been stuck at more than 8 percent since February 2009. The jobless rate was 8.1 percent in April, with 115,000 jobs added, the weakest growth in six months. The economy and jobs are dominant issues in Obama’s campaign for re-election against Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Obama used the occasion to make a pitch for his economic proposals, including tax breaks for small businesses and the clean-energy industry and measures to boost the housing market.
“The world economy is still in a delicate place” because of European debt crisis and slowing growth in emerging markets, Obama said. “There are plenty of solutions within our reach.”
The Export-Import bank’s reauthorization raises the lending limit in steps, to $120 billion this year, rising to $130 billion in 2013 and to $140 billion by the end of the 2014 fiscal year. The bank was in danger of reaching its current limit of $100 billion by tomorrow without renewal.
The Senate cleared the bill on a 78-20 vote May 15, after the House passed it May 9 on a 330-93 vote. The bill is H.R. 2072.