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Remarks by EXIM President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed at the United States Conference of Mayors' 88th Winter Meeting

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Chairman Kimberly A. Reed

Jan 24, 2020 – Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, for that kind introduction, and thank you for your commitment to the workers and businesses in the City of San Diego. I am honored to join you here today at the United States Conference of Mayors’ 88th Winter Meeting with more than 260 mayors representing diverse communities from across our great nation.

As we come together to focus on ports, trade developments, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), I also would like to recognize Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Joe Semsar and Atlantic Council Adrienne Arsht Latin American Center Director Jason Marczak for their leadership. 

I will share the outcomes of this discussion with more than 100 port and supply chain executives from Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States next Wednesday when I participate in the American Association of Port Authorities Shifting Trade Conference in Tampa, Florida. This is the same day that President Trump will be hosting a signing ceremony at the White House for the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA), which is a mutually beneficial win for North American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.

I am from Buckhannon, West Virginia and also want to acknowledge the mayors in attendance from my home state – Steve Williams of Huntington and Amy Goodwin of Charleston. 

It is an honor for me to serve not only as the first woman Chairman of EXIM but also as the first West Virginian to head EXIM in its now 86-year history.

EXIM is the United States official export credit agency, and our mission is to support American jobs by facilitating U.S. exports.

By coming from rural America, I bring a special approach to fulfilling EXIM’s mission. I previously served at the U.S. Department of Treasury as Senior Advisor to two U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury and as the Director of the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund.

While at the CDFI Fund, I had the opportunity to visit many of the rural communities represented here, working with our nation’s community banks, credit unions, and community development organizations to generate economic and job growth and opportunity in some of our nation’s most distressed communities. I would love to see some of the businesses in these communities prosper as exporters, as we live in a global marketplace.

When I became Chairman of EXIM last May, President Trump charged me with securing a long-term reauthorization and empowered me to enact important reforms that will leave a lasting, positive legacy at the agency, allowing us to fulfill our just-launched vision of “Keeping America Strong: Empowering U.S. Businesses and Workers to Compete Globally.” I am excited to announce we are doing just that.

In December, President Trump signed legislation into law that reauthorized EXIM for a historic seven years, the longest in EXIM’s nearly 86-year history. I am grateful for the work of our nation’s mayors, our bipartisan leaders in Congress, EXIM’s 400 dedicated employees, my fellow EXIM Board Members Spencer Bachus and Judith Pryor, and ex offico Board Members Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer with this effort. And, most of all, I thank President Trump for getting our historic reauthorization past the finish line. Thank you!

We also have worked hard to deliver on the goals I announced on my first day at EXIM: fully reopening, reforming, and reauthorizing the agency, allowing us to support businesses across the country, including in many of your cities, as they seek to export their products around the world.

On Tuesday, in a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Trump spoke of our strong U.S. economy, saying “America achieved this stunning turnaround not by making minor changes to a handful of policies, but by adopting a whole new approach centered entirely on the wellbeing of the American worker.”

This approach has paid off. The American economy is booming, with the stock market reaching record highs and unemployment reaching record lows. President Trump has signed historic trade deals with Japan and China, and the historic USMCA will enter into force soon after it is ratified by the Canadians.

Clearly, trade policy that supports the American worker is a priority for President Trump, and I am pleased that EXIM plays such a critical role towards that objective. At EXIM, we work hard to help the businesses and workers in your communities compete in the global marketplace.

There are currently 112 other export credit agencies or “ECAs” around the world being used by their respective countries to achieve strategic and policy objectives. China alone has three of them – all of which are used to promote their national interest, particularly the “Belt and Road Initiative.”

In 2018, China’s ECAs provided roughly the same amount of medium- and long-term export credit financing as that of the ECAs of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Canada, Italy, and Germany combined. Countries that rely on Chinese financing increasingly find themselves stuck in a debt diplomacy trap, in which China is left with an upper hand and a long-term presence in a location of strategic importance. Economic security is national security, and EXIM will not sit idly while China utilizes these unfair trade practices at the expense of America’s workers.

EXIM’s bipartisan reauthorization, approved by Congress and signed by President Trump, gave us clear direction to focus on the economic and national security challenges from China. The new law directs EXIM to establish a “Program on China and Transformational Exports,” with a goal of reserving 20-percent of EXIM’s total financing authority for exports that compete directly with China and transformational exports. 

Can you please raise your hand if you have these types of industries in your communities: (1) artificial intelligence; (2) biotechnology; (3) biomedical sciences; (4) wireless communications equipment, including 5G; (5) quantum computing; (6) renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy storage; (7) semiconductor and semiconductor machinery manufacturing; (8) emerging financial technologies; and (9) water treatment and sanitation. Congress has asked EXIM to focus on these transformational exports, and many of you have businesses in your community that are leaders in these industries. EXIM is ready to support them as they compete on a global scale.

As mandated by Congress, we offer financing at rates and on terms that are competitive with government-backed export financing available from other countries, with a goal of ensuring U.S. businesses and workers can successfully compete around the world.

During my swearing-in in the Oval Office, the President also told me he wants “the world to see more products stamped with those four beautiful words—‘Made in the USA’"—supported by thousands of jobs in communities across the United States. You, and all the mayors across our blessed nation, are key to helping us to do just this, especially when it comes to America’s small business.

We are committed to supporting U.S. small businesses, and we partner with private-sector commercial lenders and insurance brokers nationwide to deliver business financing. We have two primary financial solutions that can help the companies in your communities: export credit insurance – which protects against foreign buyer nonpayment, and allows companies to extend credit – and working capital loan guarantees – which provide funds producing goods and services.

As mayors, you may have already worked with businesses in your communities that have received EXIM support to export their products. Many of them of are small businesses and in fact, 89 percent of all EXIM authorizations, went to small businesses. 

Since I was confirmed in May 2019, we have done nearly 1300 small businesses authorizations totaling $1.37 billion. In the same year, we approved more than $450 million in support of minority- or women-owned businesses. We also authorized nearly $60 million in support of veteran-owned small businesses in 2018 and 2019.

Other businesses in your community may be in the process of exporting for the first time but have yet to hear about EXIM and the products we offer. As mayors, you know the businesses in your community who could best benefit from EXIM products.

Let me give you two examples. When I was first confirmed in May, I hosted a small business roundtable featuring companies, including Zeigler Brothers and Wheeling Truck Center, which have used EXIM’s products to be even more successful in the global marketplace. 

Zeigler is a third-generation, family-owned small agricultural producer in Gardners, Pennsylvania. This small business researches and develops specialty animal and aquatic feeds, manufacturing 300-plus products that are sold to government and private producers, zoos, and laboratories. Zeigler began using EXIM’s multi-buyer insurance policy in 2011 to minimize political and commercial risks of nonpayment, which has enabled Zeigler to obtain the necessary support of its foreign receivables, allowing them to be included as collateral in order to increase the company’s working capital line of credit. EXIM’s insurance has supported nearly $56 million of the company’s exports over the past five years. By 2018, the company had nearly doubled its exports and employment—increasing the number of its employees from 55 to 109—due to expanded exports to sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America that have been backed by EXIM’s export credit insurance. The company currently exports to more than 50 countries. Using EXIM’s export credit insurance EXIM has particularly helped Zeigler expand its sales in Nigeria, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, India, and Vietnam.

Wheeling Truck Center in Wheeling, West Virginia, is a full-service Volvo dealer in new and used trucks, service, and truck parts for all makes of heavy-duty class 8 trucks. Founded in 1933 by C.H. Remp, the small business is currently owned and managed by the third and fourth generations of the Remp family, and has about 20 employees. They began exporting in 2010, using EXIM export credit insurance. Exports now account for 25% of the company’s revenue, and EXIM has supported more than $2 million in exports. Since the company began exporting, it added three jobs dedicated solely to international sales.

As you engage with companies who are looking to export their “Made in the USA” goods, send them to EXIM, so we can help your communities thrive and grow. Our website, www.exim.gov, has our contact information and also has a map of the United States and you can identify your regional EXIM representative. I would love to visit your communities and help our first-time exporters get to success and grow and prosper.

I also would like to invite you and your businesses to our 2020 Annual EXIM Conference in Washington, D.C. on April 2-3. We have confirmed Ambassador Robert O’Brien, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and Larry Kudlow, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and many more great speakers will be announced in the next few weeks. 

This year’s conference has the theme is Keeping America Strong: Empowering U.S. Businesses and Workers to Compete Globally and typically attracts over one thousand participants. It is a unique opportunity to engage with the brightest minds in government, business, economic policy, and foreign affairs, and start conversations and meet our staff to get deals done for your communities. Be sure to check out www.exim.gov for the details on this, as well as on how to get in touch with us and our regional offices if you want to learn more about our EXIM products and services.

In closing, President Trump is committed to growing our economy and creating jobs. EXIM is a powerful tool in making that happen. I know that many you will be seeing the President this afternoon. Please extend my thanks again to him for securing the historic EXIM reauthorization for all of us. I look forward to continuing the discussion, and to working with each of you to export more “Made in the USA” products around the world.

Thank you.