For 80 years, the U.S. Export-Import Bank has been financing the export of American goods and services, largely from small businesses. Though it has historically been an important resource for small businesses, recent efforts by lawmakers to defund the bank have put its future into question. Unfortunately for small businesses, Congress failed to address the long-term security of the Ex-Im Bank and instead chose a short-term fix to reauthorize the bank’s charter through June 2015. If lawmakers don’t act to pass a long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank, its loss could trigger far-reaching consequences for the small business community.
The Ex-Im Bank is so important to small businesses because it gives them an edge by leveling the playing field between small firms and their larger counterparts. The bank fills in the gaps offered by traditional financing, and by partnering with private sector lenders to provide loans and credit to aid foreign purchasers in buying American-made goods. Many small businesses rely on the bank because commercial lenders typically don’t support small businesses in this area. In fact, nearly 90 percent of Ex-Im Bank’s transactions in 2013 were for American small businesses. Without the bank, many small business owners say they wouldn’t be able to compete internationally.
What’s more, foreign markets represent a significant growth opportunity for many U.S. small businesses—96% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries. Our small business owners must have the tools and resources needed to take advantage of this potential and the security of a long-term solution so they can continue to grow their business with greater confidence.
Small business owners have been taking to the Internet to show their support for long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank using Small Business Majority’s Ex-Im Thought Bank. This website allows small business owners to share their experiences with the Ex-Im Bank and have their comments sent directly to members of Congress. What’s more, Small Business Majority’s Economic Agenda for America’s Future points to a long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank as an important step Washington can take now to help bolster small businesses and the economy.
Failure to pass a long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank would be damaging to the economy and place an unfair burden on small businesses and other hard working exporters. It’s time for Congress to find a permanent fix for the Ex-Im Bank so small businesses can have the certainty they need to continue brokering deals with foreign countries that strengthen our economy here at home.