Last week, Congress reauthorized the Export-Import Bank of the United States as part of the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act,” a law funding new transportation infrastructure. The bill was signed into law on Dec. 4. EXIM Bank has been unable to lend to new projects since its charter expired on June 30 this year. The FAST Act reauthorizes it for four years – through Sept. 30, 2019 – and enables it to begin lending again.
EXIM Bank is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the United States. In this capacity, it supports the export of U.S. companies’ goods and services to foreign buyers and provides financial backing to guarantee payment to U.S. companies. This includes critical support for satellite deals that many commercial lenders are unable or unwilling to finance.
The reauthorization comes with a slate of reforms for EXIM Bank. First, it must set up a new Office of Ethics, headed by a chief ethics officer, and a Risk Management Committee, headed by a chief risk officer. EXIM Bank must also make 25% of its loan, guarantee, and insurance products available to small business exporters (formerly it had to make only 20% of such products available to small businesses).
EXIM Bank’s online application systems and exim.gov are fully operational, and EXIM Bank is now accepting applications for new transactions. The Bank is still waiting for Senate approval of enough members of its Board of Directors to constitute a quorum; until that time, transactions requiring Board approval (those totaling over $10 million) will be reviewed by EXIM employees but cannot be authorized by EXIM Bank.