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CHAIRMAN MERRILL TELLS BUCHAREST INVESTMENT SUMMIT THAT EX-IM IS COMMITTED TO TRADE IN EASTERN EUROPE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 13, 2003

Media Contact Name/Phone: 

Washington, D.C. - Andrew Yarrow or Marianna Ohe, 202.565.3200 - Bucharest - Mark Wenig (U.S. Embassy), 40.21.210.1603, ext. 101

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA -- Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) President and Chairman Philip Merrill provided a positive assessment of Eastern Europe's investment climate and told business, financial, and government leaders meeting today in Bucharest, Romania, that Ex-Im Bank is committed to finance increased U.S. exports to the region.

I am pleased to say that Ex-Im Bank is open for business in every country in Southeast and Central Europe, Merrill said in a keynote address delivered at a summit on attracting increased foreign direct investment to Eastern Europe. We have supported nearly $1.5 billion in U.S. exports to the region since 1998, and Ex-Im Bank has a portfolio of $1.5 billion in Russia. But we want to do more.

As part of its efforts to increase trade financing for the region, Ex-Im Bank recently has signed an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to support municipal and other transactions; is cooperating with export credit agencies in Russia, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Romania to finance exports to third countries; and is expanding its marketing in the region.

Whether we look back to the great trading era of the late 19th century or look at the great trade-driven success stories of the late 20th century, trade has been a remarkable driver of development and prosperity, Merrill said. The entire region has benefited tremendously from the opening up to foreign investment and trade after the Wall fell 14 years ago. The last few years provide solid grounds for optimism.

The summit, Expanding the European Investment Frontier,was organized by the International Herald Tribune, the United Nations Development Program, and the Business Council for International Understanding. It also featured presentations by numerous United Nations and World Bank officials, U.S. and European business leaders, Eastern European government officials, and financial journalists. More than 400 participants attended from 40 countries, including 23 in the region.

As the official export credit agency of the United States, Ex-Im Bank helps finance the sales of U.S. exports, primarily to developing markets, by providing guarantees, export credit insurance, and loans. In fiscal year 2003, which ended September 30, Ex-Im Bank authorized financing to support more than $14 billion of U.S. exports.