Last week, Congress passed--and President Obama signed--legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. This extends the bank's lending authority through 2014 and increases the bank’s credit limits.
This legislation levels the playing field for thousands of American businesses, giving them the tools they need to sell more of their products and services overseas. That's important for the President's initiative to double American exports.
And, for America’s manufacturers and our merchant mariners, it means good jobs.
Our Maritime Administration has strongly supported the Ex-Im Bank because exports supported by the bank add to the cargo volume that has been a bright spot for the US-Flag merchant fleet. And one need only look to the Port of Milwaukee for proof of that connection.
Last Friday, for the first time since the 1980s, a ship flying the American flag left Milwaukee with cargo bound for international export.
More than 227,000 jobs and $34 billion in annual economic activity are supported by the movement of goods within the Great Lakes Seaway System. Cargo can be transported through the Seaway on any nation's vessels, but because financing for the export cargo was arranged by the Export-Import Bank, an American-flagged vessel is required for shipping.
Through the past twelve months, U.S. companies exported $2.15 trillion worth of goods, the most we've ever exported in one, 12-month period. Some 9.7 million people went to work because of these exports, which is itself an increase of 1.2 million export-related jobs since 2009.
And part of the reason for that success has been the Export-Import Bank. The Bank, which is 78 years old, offers assistance to companies around the world that buy American products -- in order to help boost the sale of those goods.
During the last two years, the Export-Import Bank has been instrumental in creating a substantial number of US-Flag cargo opportunities, allowing for at least six new heavy-lift vessels like the Maersk Illinois. The continuing success of the Ex-Im Bank is a win for President Obama's National Export Initiative. It's a win for American manufacturers and their workers, and it's a win for our US-Flag fleet.