By Phoenix Business Journal
â¿¿It is a real challenge to meet the 20 percent threshold each and every year based on the resources we have,â¿ Hochberg told the Senate Banking Committee, which is working on legislation to reauthorize the agency.Hochberg said Congress needs to allow the agency to keep more of the money it generates from its fees to cover administrative expenses. The Ex-Im Bank has been self-sustaining since 2008, and it has returned $3.4 billion to the U.S. treasury over the past five years. Critics, however, consider the Ex-Im Bankâ¿¿s deals to be a form of corporate welfare. Citizens Against Government Waste this year called for elimination of the agency. â¿¿The Export-Import Bank is one more example of the governmentâ¿¿s willingness to continue to expose taxpayers to risk while allowing private companies to reap the benefits,â¿ said CAGW President Tom Schatz. â¿¿It provides politicians with easy handouts dressed up as job creation, but itâ¿¿s corporate welfare through and through.â¿ The loan-loss rate on the Ex-Im Bankâ¿¿s loans, however, is only 1.5 percent -- â¿¿well below most commercial banks,â¿ Hochberg said. So the risk to taxpayers is low, at least for now. Some critics have called the agency â¿¿Boeingâ¿¿s bank,â¿ because that aerospace giant has been a frequent beneficiary of Ex-Im Bank financing. This month, for example, the agency provided a $700 million direct loan to finance the sale of satellites by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems in El Segundo, Calif., to Immarsat, a London-based provider of mobile satellite communications services to the maritime industry. Hochberg said the loan enabled Boeing to win the contract over a foreign competitor that also was backed by an export credit agency. The Ex-Im Bankâ¿¿s mission, he said, is to make sure â¿¿financing is never an impedimentâ¿ when U.S. companies are competing for foreign sales. The Boeing loan will help the company â¿¿and its many small-business suppliers maintain jobs in California and around the country,â¿ Hochberg said.
Infinia Corp., a 145-employee solar power company in Kennewick, Wash., is one example of a small business that has benefited from Ex-Im Bank financing. The agency authorized a $30 million loan in March to Dalmia Solar Power Ltd. in India to finance the purchase of Infiniaâ¿¿s modular solar electricity system.â¿¿Ex-Im Bankâ¿¿s support was absolutely essential for providing the long-term financing needed to move this project forward,â¿ said J.D. Sitton, who was Infiniaâ¿¿s CEO at the time. What: Official export credit agency of the U.S. Products: Provides direct loans, loan guarantees and export credit insurance. 2010 financing volume: $24.5 billion. Small-business transactions: $5.1 billion. Loan-loss rate: 1.5 percent. Cost to taxpayers: Zero -- Ex-Im covers expenses through fees charged to borrowers. Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2011/05/20/export-import-bank-on-record-pace-for.html?ana=thestreet