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Export-Import Bank head visiting at pivotal time for agency

As Congress debates whether the Export-Import Bank should survive, the agency’s leader will visit the Buffalo Niagara region on Thursday to call attention to the Ex-Im Bank’s impact on trade.

Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the independent federal agency, is scheduled to participate in a manufacturing forum at Jamestown Community College before touring Moog’s Elma manufacturing complex later in the day.

The forum, aimed at educating small businesses about exporting, will be co-hosted by Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, and Rep. Glenn Thompson, a Pennsylvania Republican. The agency has held similar forums around the country, often with members of Congress as the co-hosts. Moog supplies aircraft components to Boeing, a major Ex-Im Bank customer that sells planes to overseas buyers.

The Ex-Im Bank may not be a household name, but it is the official export credit agency of the United States, helping to finance the export of U.S. goods and services to foreign markets. The 81-year-old agency’s charter is up for reauthorization on June 30, and its future is uncertain.

Many conservative Republicans in Congress favor letting the agency’s authorization expire. Critics denounce the agency as a source of “crony capitalism” or “corporate welfare” that mainly benefits big corporations.

But the Ex-Im Bank and its proponents contend the agency fills a critical gap in private exporting financing, rather than competing with private lenders, and that most of its transactions serve small businesses. Allowing the authorization to expire would endanger U.S. corporations’ ability to compete for overseas deals, proponents say.

Before the Ex-Im Bank received a short-term extension last year, Collins wrote a column for USA Today defending the agency. He credited the Ex-Im Bank with helping a company he had founded, Audubon Machinery, create 65 jobs.

Hochberg on Thursday will wrap up a three-day swing through three states. In each of his two previous stops, Hochberg highlighted the value of exporting and visited a supplier to a major Ex-Im Bank customer. On Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo., he toured Gasket Engineering, a supplier to Siemens. On Wednesday in Erie, Pa., he visited Industrial Sales and Manufacturing and a GE facility.