Ex-Im Bank fuels Florida’s economy

At a time when many communities and businesses are still struggling, Congress should be working to find ways to grow our economy and get Americans back to work. Unfortunately, just a few days ago, the incoming House Majority, Rep. Leader Kevin McCarthy, showed that he plans to prioritize his politics over what’s good for the country and our economy.

The majority leader announced that he will oppose the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank charter when it expires in September and would like to see the bank shut down.

For more than 80 years, the Export-Import Bank has provided critical assistance for U.S. businesses in accessing foreign markets and competing overseas. The bank has provided export credit insurance so that American companies have protection against the risks associated with dealing with foreign companies and has provided financing so that foreign customers can buy U.S. goods.

This financing program, which routinely produces a profit for taxpayers, helped reduce the deficit by $1 billion last year. What’s more, under this program, borrowers have defaulted on less than 2 percent of all loans backed by the bank since its inception in 1934, which is a lower default rate than that of commercial banks. As of March 2014, the bank’s default rate was a mere 0.211 percent.

Without renewing the Export-Import Bank, we risk falling farther behind other countries in the race to promote exports and add jobs.

As a percentage of GDP, Germany and France already provide two and a half times as much export financing as we did. China and India provided roughly three times as much, and Korea 10 times as much.

If we are serious about increasing our exports, reducing our trade deficit and creating jobs, we need to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank so that American exporters are not put at a disadvantage when competing with foreign companies in global markets.

In 2013, the Export-Import Bank supported an estimated $37.4 billion in U.S. export sales — including $7 billion in Florida — and helped sustain over 200,000 American jobs.

We have seen the positive impact of the Export-Import Bank’s activities all over South Florida. In my own district, Florida’s 26th, the bank has supported $311 million in exports since 2007. In Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s district, the bank supported $514 million in exports; in Rep. Frederica Wilson’s district, $960 million; in Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s district, $417 million; and in Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s district, $1.514 billion dollars.

Those numbers demonstrate how important the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank is to South Florida.

The bank helps American companies, grows our economy, and most importantly helps create American jobs. That is why 865 businesses, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recently called on Congress to reauthorize the bank before its charter expires on Sept. 30. And that is why I was proud to be an original cosponsor of legislation introduced this week to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for seven years.

We can’t let the new majority leader’s politics get in the way of getting this done. This is too important to our economy and to the American people.

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which includes most of western Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys.