Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Trade deals in state stall as Export-Import Bank charter expires

Some $3.8 million in trade deals in Washington state were put on hold when Congress failed to renew the federal Export-Import Bank’s charter by Tuesday’s deadline, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell said in Spokane on Tuesday.

The Ex-Im bank provides loans and guarantees so that foreign buyers can get U.S. products in a timely manner and U.S. companies can avoid risks associated with overseas deals.

The Ex-Im bank earns money from fees paid in exchange for the credit extensions.

Without the Ex-Im bank, overseas purchasers are “going to look for other solutions,” Cantwell said at SCAFCO Corp. in east Spokane.

She visited the plant to call attention to the importance of making credit available for export deals that produce jobs.

The charter of the 81-year-old government agency expired at midnight Tuesday, although it’s funded through Sept. 30 and no immediate changes or layoffs are planned.

Pressure from tea party-backed lawmakers and outside conservatives like the Koch brothers has pushed Republican congressional leaders and presidential candidates to line up against the bank, defying their traditional allies in the business community who support it.

Cantwell said the bank has been a lifeline for many companies like SCAFCO that sell overseas.

“We are going to demand reauthorization immediately” when Congress returns to work in July, Cantwell told a gathering of SCAFCO employees. She believes a majority in Congress will support reauthorization.

SCAFCO is manufacturing grain bins for Bangladesh, which is SCAFCO’s largest customer this year, said Lawrence Stone, company president and CEO.

Orlin Reinbold, owner of Landmark Turf & Native Seed, 4808 S. Hayford Road, said his company exports $10 million worth of products to 15 to 20 countries.

“It’s not a free service,” he said of the Ex-Im bank. “We need this kind of assistance to export our products.”

Other Spokane companies that use the Ex-Im bank are Commercial Creamery Co., Lloyd Industries and White’s Boots.

Jim Robinson, construction manager of SCAFCO’s Grain Systems division, said he has worked for the company for 40 years and that his job would not exist without the Ex-Im bank.

The White House in a news release Tuesday said the bank generated $675 million in profits that went back to taxpayers and that the default rate was just 0.175 percent.

At the same time, the bank financed $297 billion in deals since 2007, Cantwell said as she toured SCAFCO.

“This is where America competes – right here on the factory floor,” she said.

She said competing countries have seized on the Ex-Im bank’s troubles, telling potential customers that the U.S. trade credit system is unreliable.

In particular, Boeing has been working to fend off challenges from Europe and its Airbus line of jetliners, Cantwell said.

The shutdown undercuts Boeing’s ability to sell planes to foreign airlines, she said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.