Washington’s economy depends on exports and imports of goods and services by companies of all sizes, from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to some of the largest companies in the world. Approximately 40% of all jobs in Washington are tied to trade, making us the most trade dependent state in the nation. In 2018, Washington was the 4th largest exporting state by value for merchandise and commodities after Texas, California, and New York.
For hundreds of Washington exporters operating in dozens of industries, a crucial element of their success is the support they receive each year from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the official export credit agency of the federal government. The mission of the Ex-Im Bank is to fill gaps in private export finance in order to bolster U.S. job growth. Because it is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, the Ex-Im Bank assumes credit and country risks that the private sector is unable or unwilling to accept. This briefing looks at the importance of the Ex-Im Bank to Washington state trade, particularly as the bank approaches an important deadline for reauthorization by September 30, 2019.
This briefing draws on data from the federal government, including the U.S. Census Bureau, Export-Import Bank, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Congressional Research Service, as well as news sources and previous research conducted by Community Attributes Inc.
Background and Overview
The Export-Import Bank is an independent federal agency that helps finance exports of U.S. goods with the goal of increasing U.S. exports and jobs. Approximately 90% of firms supported by the Ex-Im bank are small businesses.
The Ex-Im Bank was founded in 1934 and exists today under the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, which Congress must periodically reauthorize for the Bank to operate. Congress also appropriates funds to the Bank to cover administrative and operational costs, although throughout its history the Bank has largely been able to sustain itself through offsetting collections. Furthermore, over the last 10 years the Export-Import Bank has returned approximately $5.2 billion to the U.S. Treasury. The Bank is led by its five-person Board of Directors who are appointed by the President and must be approved by the Senate.
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