This week Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., is expected to co-sponsor bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., a little-known quasi government agency that has become a political lightning rod in recent weeks, as reported by the Hill. But the bill's passage, he warned, is contingent on Nevada's Democratic leader Harry Reid, allowing amendments on the floor and smooth passage for legislation.
"The bank plays an important role because many foreign governments provide heavy assistance to their nation's exporters, which distorts foreign markets and creates an unfair disadvantage for American exporters," according to Sen. Johanns. More than 60 countries operate similar banks or export credit agencies (ECAs), including China, Germany, Japan and India. They finance or underwrite more than $400 billion of business activity abroad.
That's welcome news for thousands of small and midsize exporters in America that rely on the multilateral lending agency's support to export to markets around the world.
Just ask Musya Tumanyan, senior vice president of Hoffman International, a global construction equipment distributor in Piscataway, New Jersey, which employs nearly 100 workers.
During the depths of the recession, Hoffman International received a disturbing call. In light of the dismal and uncertain economic conditions at the time, the company's private export credit insurance provider was canceling its policy. Without coverage for the purchase orders made by overseas customers, Hoffman was in danger of losing millions of dollars of international sales. "Just when we needed the coverage the most, it was gone," recalled Tumanyan.