A West Michigan GE Aviation executive has expressed grave concern about the potential demise of the federal government’s Export-Import Bank, created as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal to help American businesses sell their goods and services abroad.
The legislation authorizing Ex-Im, as it is called, will expire July 1 if not renewed by Congress. West Michigan Congressmen Justin Amash and Bill Huizenga are opposed to renewal, along with many other conservative politicians. However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers are firmly in support of Ex-Im.
According to its website, Ex-Im helps finance the export of American goods and services and “is vital to countering aggressive foreign competition.”
At times, Ex-Im has been tainted by corruption, and Huizenga said businesses should be allowed to fail or succeed at exports based on their own merits. He recently called it a “sad commentary on the state of U.S. competitiveness.”
Amash said it equates to “corporate welfare,” transferring wealth from “regular Americans to politically connected people.”
About 29 percent of its financing for U.S. exports last year was in aircraft and avionics, according to the Ex-Im website.
Aircraft maker Boeing Corp. is spending millions to support the Ex-Im legislation, while Delta Airlines has been spending large amounts to oppose it, claiming some overseas airlines have used Ex-Im guarantees to lower their borrowing costs, making competition with them more difficult.
George Kiefer, the top executive at the GE Aviation plant in Grand Rapids, told the Business Journal exports are critical to the company, and more than 40 West Michigan companies were able to grow during the last five years “thanks to Ex-Im Bank financing.”
Exports “represent the largest growth percentage of our orders last year, and we expect exports to continue to play a major role in future growth,” he said.
“Without this financing, many of our overseas customers would turn to our foreign competitors to purchase their aircraft. If we lose to international competitors, that means fewer jobs and less investment in facilities.
“We can’t afford to let Ex-Im expire, jeopardizing jobs in our region and giving China, Russia and other countries the upper hand. We need the bank now more than ever to continue the American manufacturing renaissance that is helping restore jobs lost during the recession.”
Kiefer said Ex-Im Bank is “one of the rare government programs that actually return money to the U.S. Treasury.”