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american chamber of commerce of jamaica

Promoting Investment and Trade between the United States,Jamaica and the Region

Congress Backs Businesses into a Corner by Pushing Pause on Ex-Im

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers sometimes have the power to simply push pause. On everything from funding the federal government to critical legislative reforms, we have too often seen Congress shrug and say, “Maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, maybe next year.”

Business leaders don’t have that liberty. There’s no pause button. Orders keep funneling in, payroll cycles keep coming around, and, rest assured, competitors don’t slow down. Just like it does for everyday Americans, the world keeps turning.

It’s that contrast between the public and private sectors that’s put so many American companies in an incredibly difficult situation over the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im).

Congress’s decision this summer not to renew Ex-Im, which for 80 years has helped U.S. companies sell their goods and services abroad, left thousands of small and large businesses without a vital export resource. With every day that passes without reauthorization (we’re now at the three month mark), more sales are lost and more jobs are put on the line.

In California, for instance, Kusum Kavia’s small manufacturing company was preparing to add 100 more workers until two important projects were put on hold without Ex-Im. And in Illinois, Tom Anderson’s family-run business stands to lose $550,000 in international sales of its check-scanning equipment if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the bank soon. Of course, that would severely limit his ability to expand and create new jobs.

In other cases, it’s companies that are left with little alternative but to shift some jobs and production elsewhere, lest they want to lose those jobs altogether.

It’s companies like General Electric, one of the largest employers of American workers, which has in the absence of Ex-Im had to move some of its production to countries like Canada, Hungary and France, which still offer export credit assistance. It’s companies like Boeing, which in the last month lost two foreign satellite deals and this week announced that Ex-Im’s shutdown has put in jeopardy a $1.1 billion order from a prominent South African airline. The carrier is now considering going with Europe’s Airbus, instead.

These aren’t shifts for the sake of shifting. These are American companies that, all things being equal, would prefer to – and have always chosen to – employ American workers first.

Problem is, all things aren’t equal anymore. Congress’s decision to shutter Ex-Im and leave it shuttered puts American companies at a unique disadvantage to their foreign competitors, as every other major trading nation has an export credit agency like Ex-Im.

So while today or tomorrow, this month or next year may not make much of a difference to Congress, every day without Ex-Im’s revival puts more strain on U.S. companies, puts more foreign sales on the chopping block, and puts more U.S. workers’ jobs in jeopardy.

Those American workers can’t afford another week or another month for policymakers to re-level the international playing field for American businesses. Unlike Congress, those workers can’t push pause on their bills, their mortgages, their lives. They need their representatives to push play again on the Ex-Im Bank – and they need it now.

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