Boeing CEO Is ‘Confident’ Ex-Im Bank Will Survive Funding Vote

Boeing Co. Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said he’s “confident” the U.S. Export-Import bank will survive conservative lawmakers’ campaign to cut off funding at the end of the month.

The odds for the bank, whose credits support aircraft sales for the largest U.S. exporter, appear better after two-thirds of the U.S. Senate signaled support for the export credit agency in a procedural vote last week, McNerney said.

“That is a huge expression of interest in sustaining the viability of this bank,” McNerney told Bloomberg TV in an interview at the Paris Air Show. “There’s some gymnastics that have to happen to get that attached to another bill and voted on in both the Senate and House. That’s my source of confidence that it’s going to happen.”

Boeing benefits because the bank provides backstop financing of its aircraft to overseas customers, helping them make purchases, valuable support when credit is squeezed during a global financial crisis.

Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, are divided on the bank’s future. Democrats and Republicans from both chambers say there is enough support for the bank to reauthorize it. They just haven’t figured out a way to get it to the floor before June 30.

Opponents say the institution, commonly known as Ex-Im, provides “corporate welfare” for Chicago-based Boeing and undermines U.S. airlines by financing Boeing planes for overseas competitors such as Dubai-based Emirates Airline, the largest international carrier.

Potential aircraft buyers have been quizzing Boeing’s sales force about the bank’s prospects, John Wojick, senior vice president for global sales and marketing, said in an interview last month. Airlines want assurance that they’ll have access to credit when their aircraft is ready for delivery three to seven years in the future.

Ending the bank would amount to “unilateral disarmament,” since 60 other countries offer export credits to aerospace and other manufacturers, McNerney said.

“I think that’s a real shame,” he said. “America could lose business.”

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