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EXIM President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed Addresses Representatives of 100 Banks at BAFT Annual Conference on International Trade in Chicago

Chairman Reed visits local EXIM customer, woman-owned KOVAL Distillery


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Chicago – Kimberly A. Reed, president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), today addressed representatives of approximately 100 banks in attendance at the 29th Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (BAFT) Annual Conference on International Trade in Chicago. Chairman Reed engaged with Rob Nichols, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, in a 30-minute “Fireside Chat,” in which she highlighted her vision for the future of the agency and emphasized EXIM’s support of U.S. businesses and workers so that they can compete and win globally.

Chairman Reed discussed President Trump’s economic agenda to preserve and promote American jobs, and his commitment to the restoration of EXIM’s board of directors earlier in the year in order to protect U.S. competitiveness in international markets. She stressed EXIM’s unique, targeted role in filling gaps in trade finance and loan guarantees where private sources of financing are not available, and the agency’s assistance to—but not competition with—the private financial sector.

“EXIM is a powerful tool that is essential to leveling the playing field for U.S. companies to be able to compete fairly in global markets to keep and grow jobs in America,” Chairman Reed said. “It was great to be with ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols, a dear former colleague from our days at the U.S. Treasury Department, to talk about what matters in our country: the success of our U.S. workers and businesses. EXIM’s collaboration with the banking industry and private sector lenders—including through EXIM’s guarantees of their loans and lines of credit—is an important tool in our nation’s trade toolbox to facilitate U.S. exports, including U.S. small business exports.”

In a telling moment of the discussion, Chairman Reed interacted with the audience and asked the participants to “please raise your hand if EXIM competes with you for business”—to which no one responded. She then asked how many in the room had worked with EXIM as a partner, and nearly two-thirds of the participants raised their hands.

“The Export-Import Bank plays a vital role in boosting U.S. exports in support of the broader economy,” said American Bankers Association President and CEO Rob Nichols. “We deeply appreciate Chairman Reed taking the time to share her agenda and views with trade finance professionals at the BAFT Annual Conference on International Trade. We appreciate her leadership and strongly support EXIM’s long-term reauthorization.”

Chairman Reed also discussed EXIM’s long track record of success in supporting U.S. exports and the impact of EXIM’s support domestically, noting that the agency has supported more than one million jobs throughout all 50 states in the past 10 years. She said that 90 percent of EXIM transactions have supported small businesses, including nearly $1 billion in authorizations in FY 2017 and FY 2018 that benefited minority- and women-owned businesses in the United States.

Noting that a “whole-of-government” approach is necessary to boosting U.S. trade, Chairman Reed stressed interagency collaboration among the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, and Energy, as well as specifically trade-related agencies in addition to EXIM that include the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Also while in Chicago, Chairman Reed toured a woman-owned business and EXIM customer, KOVAL Distillery, and visited with Sonat Birnecker Hart, president and co-owner with her husband, Robert. KOVAL Distillery, also known as KOVAL Inc., produces organic whiskey, liqueurs, and specialty spirits and uses EXIM’s short-term export credit insurance to sell to customers in Europe, Australia, and Asia.

“The Export-Import Bank of the United States has really accelerated growth for us,” said KOVAL Distillery President Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart. “KOVAL is located in Chicago and is one of the largest independent craft distilleries in the United States. We have more than 55 export markets and are happy to be sending ‘Made in Chicago’ all over the world with the support of EXIM.”

EXIM President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed (right) speaking on stage with American Bankers Association President and CEO Rob Nichols
American Bankers Association President and CEO Rob Nichols and EXIM President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed engage in a fireside chat before representatives of approximately 100 banks in attendance at the 29th BAFT Annual Conference in Chicago.


EXIM is an independent federal agency that promotes and supports American jobs by providing competitive and necessary export credit to overseas purchasers of U.S. goods and services. A robust EXIM can level the global playing field for U.S. exporters when they compete against foreign companies that receive support from their governments. EXIM also contributes to U.S. economic growth by helping to create and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs in exporting businesses and their supply chains across the United States. In recent years, 90 percent of the total number of the agency’s authorizations has directly supported small businesses.

For more information about EXIM, please visit www.exim.gov.