National, Pittsburgh region companies rally to extend charter of Export-Import Bank |
Local Stories

National, Pittsburgh region companies rally to extend charter of Export-Import Bank

GE Transportation recently signed a deal to build 100 locomotives in Erie — including engines made in Grove City — and sell them in Angola for $350 million.

GE used financing through the Export-Import Bank, which provides loans, loan guarantees and insurance to U.S. companies selling overseas. The bank, supporters say, helps U.S. companies compete more effectively for foreign business.

“If we hadn’t had that financing, the order would have gone to China,” said Richard Simpson, global head of supply chain for the company, who said Thursday that GE Transportation financed $720 million in sales to three other countries last year.

Such deals are in jeopardy, advocates for the 80-year-old bank say. Its charter expires June 30 and observers say it might not come up for a vote in Congress before then.

“There is no compelling case to reauthorize the bank,” said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican. He won’t allow his panel, which oversees the bank, to consider legislation to extend it.

Opponents say the program amounts to a form of corporate welfare that disrupts the free market. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, says small companies such as those which supply GE Transportation, or are trying to do business overseas themselves, need the support.

Companies that are subsidized by their home countries or that have similar export credit agencies would have an automatic advantage over U.S. firms, he said.

“That alone should be reason enough for folks in both parties to support the Export- Import Bank,” Casey said during a conference call with reporters a day after the Senate took a test vote showing members supported reauthorization 65-31.

The bank has supported $7 billion in business from 314 exporters in Pennsylvania since 2007, according to its records.

Advocates say it supports American jobs by requiring that companies using Ex-Im source their supplies here, a requirement other export credit agencies don’t have.

“Rather than debating reauthorization we should be talking about strengthening and supporting Ex-Im significantly,” said Devesh Sharma, managing director of Canonsburg-based Aquatech International, which sells water treatment systems.

The company, which employs 500 people, has used revenue from international sales to support its work for Pennsylvania gas drilling companies, Sharma said.

“Without Ex-Im, we would be required to scale down operations in the United States and would have to procure millions of dollars of material from other countries thus impacting hundreds of American jobs in the process,” he said. “That doesn’t help anyone but the other countries.”

Bloomberg News contributed to this report. David Conti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5802 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.