The U.S. House voted to renew the Export-Import Bank’s charter on Tuesday, but the trade lender still needs Senate approval to be revived, and that has split Georgia’s Senate delegation.
Republican Rep. David Perdue has maintained the position he’s held since July, according to multiple media reports, when he released a statement that said he’s “concerned about the structure of the bank,” and wants to see more debate on the issue.
While Republican Rep. Johnny Isakson said in a statement, “The Export-Import Bank is important for jobs in Georgia. The Bank allows U.S. businesses to compete on a level playing field against global companies who receive far greater assistance from their governments.”
The Export-Import Bank helps finance sales of U.S. exports to foreign customers. Its charter expired June 30, and it has been unable to approve new applications to help overseas buyers get financing to purchase U.S. products.
Supporters say the bank helps sustain tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs and bolsters trade.
Dave Bruce, a professor of international business at Georgia State University, says critics argue the bank hurts competition and small businesses.
But Bruce says Georgia’s economy benefits when there’s more trade and more products moving through the state’s ports and airports.
“It doesn’t make so much difference to Georgia as a whole whether trade is coming or going,” says Bruce, “it’s generally viewed as a win-win here.” Bruce says the companies and organizations doing the trading need lawyers, accountants and bankers, which boosts the state’s economy even more.
Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg spoke with WABE’s “Closer Look with Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer” in April just as the fight over the bank was heating up in Congress. He said before the bank offers a company a loan, it does research and asks, “Does the [product of a capital good export], like an airplane, farm equipment or power equipment, … actually hurt the U.S. economy?”
According to a report from the White House, which supports the Export-Import Bank’s renewal, 129 small businesses and 181 total exporters benefited from the bank from 2009 through 2014. The same report says more than $4 million in Georgia business was supported by the Export-Import Bank during that period.