Cantwell, SW Washington Businesses Call for Reauthorization of Key Export Tool

At Columbia Machine in Vancouver, Senator calls for Congressional action to save Export-Import Bank before it expires

VANCOUVER, WA – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Vancouver-area business leaders Monday to tour a heavy machinery manufacturer and call on Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, the nation’s official export credit agency and a key export tool that helps Southwest Washington companies sell products overseas and create jobs. The visit was part of Cantwell’s tour of businesses in Washington state that utilize the Export-Import Bank to export Washington-made products around the globe.

With 92 days until expiration of the Export-Import Bank, Cantwell toured Columbia Machine in Vancouver – a family-owned company that designs and manufactures equipment used in concrete production and automated packaging, and exports to more than 100 countries. Columbia Machine employs more than 400 people, making it one of the largest employers in Clark County, and has used Export-Import Bank financing to expand international sales of its products.

But unless Congress reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank’s charter by Sept. 30, the bank will be forced to stop its assistance to U.S. exporters -- threatening export deals for Columbia Machine and more than 180 other exporters in Washington state. Since 2007, the bank has supported $60 million in sales from seven exporters in Southwest Washington, four of which were small businesses. In the Portland-Vancouver metro area, the Bank has supported $718 million in exports from 60 companies.

“We're here today to say 400 people at this plant think that making sure their products get to countries around the globe is critically important,” Cantwell said. “Columbia Machine knows the global marketplace is very competitive. Countries like Spain and Germany are offering the same types of export credit assistance to their competitors. So if they don't offer that same type of export credit assistance, how are we going to get those end customers to sign on the dotted line?”

“This is so important because 85,000 Washington state jobs hang in the balance," Cantwell said. “All over the state of Washington, small businesses are using the Export-Import Bank. With chasing those international markets comes job creation right here at home, and that's why we need to get the Export-Import Bank reauthorized.”

Other Vancouver companies that have used Export-Import Bank services include Korab USA, a pulp and paper trading company; Northwest Pipe; and Northwest Natural Products, Inc., which makes vitamins.

The Export-Import Bank is the export credit agency for the United States, and it finances or insures the purchase of U.S. goods by foreign customers. With one in three jobs supported by trade – Washington state would be the hardest hit state in the nation if the bank is not reauthorized.

If private banks are unwilling or unable, the Export-Import Bank steps in and finances or insures the purchase of U.S. goods by foreign customers. It also helps U.S. companies stay competitive against their counterparts overseas that are financed by foreign governments.

“We highly support reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States of America as it provides a very attractive financing alternative to some of our customers and it levels the playing field with some of the international competition we have,” said Bryan Goodman, Columbia Machine’s Vice President of Operations.

Cantwell also was joined by Mike Bomar, President of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, and Jonna Russell, Financial Controller from Korab USA.

Cantwell made two stops in Cowlitz County to meet with local officials about economic development: She toured the Southwest Washington Regional Airport in Kelso and met with officials there about airport expansion plans before heading to Longview to tour the downtown area and talk with officials about the city’s downtown redevelopment plans.

On Friday, Cantwell toured a Seattle company, Measurement Technologies N.W., that exports all over the world with assistance from the Export-Import Bank. She was joined by Senator Murray, and Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA-7) and Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA-10). On June 21, Cantwell and Murray joined Gov. Jay Inslee to visit SCAFCO Grain Silo Systems in Spokane, which uses Export-Import Bank services to sell its products to 82 countries, and says losing the bank would threaten some of those deals.

The Export-Import Bank has been reauthorized two-dozen times since it was created in 1934 but has run into opposition from some Republicans. The entire Washington state delegation – in both the House and the Senate -- voted for the bank’s reauthorization in 2012. The Export-Import Bank’s reauthorization has been backed by business groups around the country, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable. Nationwide, it has supported $233 billion in exports since 2007.

The Export-Import Bank is self-supported through interest payments and fees, turning a profit for the U.S. taxpayer. In 2013, the bank transferred $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury.