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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President After Meeting with Small Business Owners to Discuss the Importance of Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank

Roosevelt Room

2:31 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I just had the opportunity to hear from businesses all across the country to talk about the importance of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

This is not an issue that typically rises to the front page of the newspapers, but for these businesses and for their employees and for the communities that they serve, this is vital. Just understand what the Export-Import Bank does and has been doing for 81 years is to help U.S. companies with U.S. employees sell their products overseas.  It helps a small coffee company or quiche company, but also large manufacturers of trains or bridges and infrastructure to be able to go to foreign businesses, foreign markets -- in some cases, foreign governments -- and say to them, America makes the best product in the world, we want to sell to you, and we are prepared to do business with you on terms that allow you initially maybe not to send us all the cash but we’ve got -- we’re sending the goods to you, you get the cash back.  

And as a consequence of this arrangement, not only do we not end up subsidizing these companies -- these companies are paying a fee to the Export-Import Bank; the Export-Import Bank makes money for the U.S. government.  So I just want to be clear about this.  This is not a situation in which taxpayers are subsidizing these companies.  In fact, at the end of the day, we have a situation in which the U.S. Treasury is benefitting while at the same time allowing these companies to sell their products overseas.  

And this historically has been a bipartisan program -- under Democratic Presidents and Republican Presidents with support from Democratic members of Congress and Republican members of Congress.  The fact that for the first time since its inception Congress failed to reauthorize this is a shame.  And this is what Representative Heck was alluding to -- every other advanced country on Earth has a program like this in order to promote their businesses when they’re selling overseas.  And for us to be the only country that leaves these outstanding companies high and dry makes absolutely no sense.

You’ll hear some critics suggest that, well, this is just corporate welfare for big multinationals.  That is wrong.  It is true that Boeing is able to sell planes, GE is able to sell big turbine engines in part because of this kind of financing arrangement -- because oftentimes the customer is not prepared to just go ahead and pay cash upfront -- but Ferra coffee is a company with 12 employees.  It needs this.  Susan Axelrod’s company makes quiche, but 30 percent of their revenue is from exports.  

We’ve got companies here that range from 12 employees up to 500 employees.  All of them are savvy business people.  If, in fact, they were able to make effective financial arrangements in the private marketplace, they would do so.  But private financing in the traditional banks are not able to provide the same service or have the same expertise about dealing with some of these other markets that the Export-Import Bank does.

So this should be a no-brainer.  Nobody has presented to me a plausible argument as to why we wouldn’t do this.  And by the way, this also affects every community in the country -- there’s a reason why we’ve got the mayors of Mobile, Alabama and Mesa, Arizona here.  You’ve got small companies -- or small companies and small towns in Texas that are being affected.  You’ve got small companies in Portland, New Hampshire, Maine.  From coast to coast, people are being affected by this, and we heard stories from these companies right now that orders are on hold, business is in danger, potentially expansions will stall, fewer employees will be hired if we do not get this done.

So we need to get this done.  And the good news is, is that you’ve got outstanding members of Congress like Maxine Waters and Denny Heck and Gwen Moore, and Senators like Sherrod Brown and Heidi Heitkamp and Maria Cantwell who have been working this issue very hard for a long time.  These next couple of weeks, before Congress adjourns, is the time for us to go ahead and complete this.  We cannot leave these businesses hanging; we cannot unilaterally disarm.  Most importantly, we can’t have American workers losing jobs because Congress doesn’t act or because of some ideological arguments that don’t make any sense and don’t match up with the facts.  

So I feel very strongly about this.  I know it’s not as interesting as some of the other issues and Donald Trump and all that -- (laughter) -- but I’ll tell you what, this is actually something that matters to people on the ground.  And I’m hoping that we really stay focused on this until Congress reauthorized.  

So I want to thank the companies for being here.  We really appreciate you telling your stories.  And I’m willing to bet that any of these companies or mayors who are here representing their communities will be happy to meet with some of the members of the media and tell their stories more directly so that you guys can highlight what’s at stake here.

Thank you very much, everybody.

2:38 P.M. EDT