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Andrew Yarrow (202) 565-3200

Washington, D.C.: The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) supported $16.7 billion of U.S. exports in Fiscal Year 1999, the third-highest total in the Bank's 65-year history, according to Ex-Im Bank's 1999 Annual Report, which was released today. This is the largest volume of exports supported relative to the agency's budget, and the Bank is poised to meet or exceed this performance during the current fiscal year with the recent approval of Ex-Im Bank's $814 million FY2000 budget.

These strong results clearly demonstrate Ex-Im Bank's vital role in assuring American leadership in the global economy, said James A. Harmon, Chairman of Ex-Im Bank. These export sales directly translate into American jobs, increased corporate profits, and broader national prosperity.

Ex-Im Bank authorizations under all of its loan, guarantee, and insurance programs in FY 1999 totaled $13.068 billion. This is a nearly 25 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, when Ex-Im Bank financing of $10.5 billion supported nearly $13 billion is U.S. exports. Ex-Im Bank supported more than 2,200 transactions, including 82 percent which involved small businesses. Detailed information may be found in the 1999 Annual Report, which is available both in hard copy and on Ex-Im Bank's web site, www.exim.gov.

Support for U.S. exports to Asia and Africa, as well as overseas sales of U.S.-made commercial aircraft, increased dramatically during FY 1999. Ex-Im Bank-backed exports to Sub-Saharan Africa increased 1100 percent to $600 million, and aircraft authorizations were up by 141 percent to $6.149 billion.

Ex-Im Bank authorized $7.984 billion in long-term loans and guarantees during Fiscal Year 1999. The Bank also authorized $1.243 billion in medium-term loans and guarantees, and $3.692 billion in short-term insurance and working capital. Direct small business authorizations totaled $1.773 billion.

During the last year, Ex-Im Bank helped U.S. exporters meet the challenges of selling to countries affected by the global financial crisis of 1998. Ex-Im Bank took effective measures to support short- and medium-term U.S. exports to the recovering markets of South Korea, Brazil, and elsewhere. Ex-Im Bank also established innovative trade financing agreements and developed new initiatives to support increased exports to many countries and regions, including China, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Central America, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In China, Ex-Im Bank for the first time opened its financing programs to support the sale of U.S. exports to the private sector. In Mexico, another key U.S. market, Ex-Im Bank concluded a $4 billion trade agreement with Mexico's Ministry of Finance and Public Credit that provides for Ex-Im Bank financing to support the purchase of U.S. goods and services by Mexican businesses in 1999 and 2000. Also in Latin America, Ex-Im Bank opened in the public sector in Brazil, and provided financing to the Central American Development Bank (CABEI) and the city of Buenos Aires, the Bank's first-ever financing for a municipality. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Ex-Im Bank increased the number of countries in which it is open from 18 to 32, launching a $200 million pilot program in August to provide short-term financing in 16 countries, including 11 where financing previously had been unavailable.

During the year, Ex-Im Bank launched several new initiatives to improve customer service, meet changing needs, and expand outreach to more small businesses and private lenders. Ex-Im Bank established partnership programs with trade associations and chambers of commerce to help it expand its customer base. As an additional way of reaching more U.S. businesses and increase its transaction-processing capacity, Ex-Im Bank pioneered several new approaches to its Delegated Authority Working Capital Lender Program, which permits certain lenders to approve loans and receive Ex-Im Bank guarantees.

Ex-Im Bank also introduced a program to provide medium-term bank-to-bank insurance to cover sales of eligible capital goods made by multiple exporters to multiple importers. A new competitive Letter of Interest for project finance transactions was unveiled as a way of increasing applicants' prospects for winning international contracts in the highly competitive market for large infrastructure projects. To meet the huge international need for Y2K computer compliance, Ex-Im Bank launched a Small Business Y2K Export Credit Insurance Policy.

Harnessing the power of the Internet, Ex-Im Bank is now open 24 hours, seven days a week worldwide. Last year, the Bank introduced a secure, online Letter of Interest application to simplify and speed up the application process. This is the first of a series of Internet-based applications that will allow prospective customers to make applications day or night.

Ex-Im Bank also took action to enhance cooperation among export credit agencies, particularly in response to the Asian financial crisis and in the area of environmental standards. In an effort to reduce market distortions, Ex-Im Bank took the lead in successful negotiations to establish an OECD mechanism for standardizing risk assessments for countries. As a result of this agreement on minimum exposure fees, export credit agencies cannot provide underpriced financing to secure transactions.

On November 29, 1999, the President signed into law, P.L. 106-113, an omnibus appropriations bill, which contained the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Appropriations for FY2000. The bill provides Ex-Im Bank with a program budget of $759 million and an administrative budget of $55 million.

Ex-Im Bank is an independent U.S. Government agency that assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to industrializing and developing markets throughout theworld, by providing loans, guarantees, and insurance. As part of the Government's commitment to continued export growth, Ex-Im Bank helps create a level playing field for U.S. exporters by countering the export credit subsidies of other governments. It also works to increase the number of U.S. small businesses using Ex-Im Bank programs, promotes environmentally beneficial exports, and expands project finance transactions.