Actions Needed to Promote Competitiveness and International Cooperation

February 7, 2012

The United States and other G-7 countries have ECAs that support domestic exports, but Ex-Im differs from other ECAs in several important ways, including its explicit mission to promote domestic employment. The G-7 ECAs range from government agencies to private companies contracted by governments. Most of these ECAs, including Ex-Im, are expected to supplement, not compete with, the private market. Ex-Im offers direct loans, which were increasingly utilized during the recent financial crisis, while European ECAs do not.

Ex-Im has specific mandates in areas where other G-7 ECAs have broad directives. Ex-Im has specific mandates to support small business and environmentally beneficial exports, while other ECAs are broadly directed to support such exports. In addition, Ex-Im has other mandates and legal requirements, such as shipping certain exports on U.S.-flagged carriers and conducting economic impact assessments for large transactions, which other G-7 ECAs do not.

Ex-Im's requirements for the level of domestic content in the exports it fully finances are higher and generally less flexible than those of other G-7 ECAs. Ex-Im requires 85 percent domestic content for medium- and long-term transactions to receive full financing, while other ECAs' domestic content requirements generally range between zero and 51 percent. Ex-Im's policy on supporting local costs can result in more foreign content support in some transactions. While Ex-Im has modified its method for calculating domestic content, its threshold for receiving full financing for medium- and long-term transactions has not changed since 1987, and the policy and its overall impact on jobs has not been studied systematically. Other ECAs have modified their policies in recent years, citing increasing global content of industrial production. In its charter, Ex-Im is directed to provide financing competitive with that of other ECAs, as well as to support U.S. jobs. 

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