Export/Import Bank provision to help Puerto Rico

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) introduced the Office of Territorial Exporting Act, which passed as part of H.R. 4863, House Democrats’ larger bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

Export-Import Bank

The Export-Import Bank is an official credit agency of the United States specializing in exports. The services of the bank include the following:

  • export credit insurance
  • working capital loan guarantees
  • loan guarantees of other kinds
  • direct loans to finance the export of U.S. goods and services to developing markets

“Ex-Im Bank’s products remove the financial risks of exporting and helps exporters successfully compete in foreign markets,” their website explains. “With Ex-Im Bank’s backing, exporters can secure affordable financing from private sector lenders and offer their overseas buyers payment terms comparable to their foreign competitors’ offers.”

The bank has already provided support to several businesses in Puerto Rico, and claims that they support exports to the Caribbean and Central America, Puerto Rico’s main trading partners, to the tune of nearly $100 million per year. However, Velazquez said that the Bank had provided support for just 28 businesses in Puerto Rico, out of 3,900 total projects.

The Office of Territorial Exporting

Velazquez Proposed the creation of Creation of the Office of Territorial Exporting in the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The office will have a physical existence in Washington, D.C., as well as in the various territories.

“The Office shall conduct outreach, education, and provide learning resources to facilitate the provision to export businesses in the territories of all forms of financial assistance offered by the Bank,” the Act explains. The office will also be required to provide an annual “report on the steps taken by the Bank” to increase the presence and effectiveness of the Ex-Im Bank in the territories.

All these provisions were added to H.R.4863, becoming Section 7 of the bill.

Progress in Congress

The House approved H.R.4863 in a vote of 235 – 184.

“As Puerto Ricans work to rebuild their local economy, manufacturing and exporting will be a vital part of the equation,” Velázquez said. “Unfortunately, to date, Puerto Rican firms haven’t been able to access all the tools available to them at the Export-Import Bank.   The bill we passed today will take important steps to remedy that problem, fueling exports from the Island and fostering greater economic opportunity and creating good paying jobs along the way.”

The proposal now awaits consideration by the U.S. Senate.

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