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Andrew Yarrow, (202) 565-3200

ROME, ITALY: The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) and its Italian counterpart, Servizi Assicurativi del Commercio Estero (SACE S.p.a.), today signed a co-financing agreement in Rome that will facilitate export transactions involving companies in both the United States and Italy. Ex-Im Bank Chairman Philip Merrill and SACE Chairman Lorenzo Bini Smaghi and Chief Executive Officer Giorgio Tellini signed the agreement.

The agreement will enable Ex-Im Bank and SACE to provide one-stop trade-finance services to buyers in third countries purchasing both U.S. and Italian goods and services. The two nations' export credit agencies (ECAs) will share risk under one financing package, creating administrative efficiencies for foreign buyers. The ECA whose exporter is the principal contractor will take the lead in providing export credit support, while the other ECA whose exporter is a subcontractor or secondary contractor will provide reinsurance for their portion of the transaction to the lead ECA.

This is the third co-financing agreement that Ex-Im Bank has concluded, but its first with an ECA whose principal business is providing export credit insurance. The Bank's first two agreements, signed in 2001, were with the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) of the United Kingdom and the Export Development Corporation (EDC) of Canada. SACE has concluded 16 other co-financing agreements.

In the global marketplace, buyers seeking the best quality and price in complex transactions inevitably turn to companies from more than one nation, Merrill said. As a result, this partnership between SACE and Ex-Im Bank will benefit businesses and workers in both countries by enabling them to compete more effectively in high-value, multi-source transactions.

SACE considers re-insurance agreements a strategic tool to accomplish more efficiently its mission, which is to support the internationalization of the Italian economy, Tellini said. Today's agreement widens significantly the opportunities of Italian companies to take part more easily into international contracts in partnerships with US companies.

Several co-financed transactions that could benefit from this agreement are already under discussion. In addition, the agreement is likely to assist U.S. and Italian companies that will participate in an April 28 conference in Rome on providing goods and services for the reconstruction of Iraq. This conference will be sponsored by the Confederation of Italian Industries (Confindustria) together with the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE), under the aegis of the Ministry of Productive Activities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ex-Im Bank this year marks its 70th year of helping finance the sale of U.S. exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world, by providing loan guarantees, export credit
insurance, and direct loans. In fiscal year 2003, Ex-Im Bank, an independent federal agency, authorized financing to support $14.3 billion of U.S. exports worldwide. For more information on Ex-Im Bank, visit www.exim.gov.