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Head Of Business Cited In Defense Of Export-Import Bank Says It’s Unnecessary

The president of a Washington state company cited as an example of the Export-Import Bank’s usefulness came out against its re-authorization Tuesday.

Edmund Schweitzer III, founder and president of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, expressed this opinion in a letter to the editor of the Spokesman-Review.

“Some Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories customers have used the Ex-Im Bank for financing, at their choosing. SEL does not depend on it, nor encourage it,” he writes. “If the Ex-Im Bank were to disappear, I believe buyers and sellers would find attractive commercial options unencumbered by politics and special interests.”

Ex-Im’s purpose, he argues, is to stimulate U.S. exports by providing low-interest financing and risk mitigation. With interest rates remaining near zero throughout much of the world and a variety of options for insuring risk that were not available when the bank was created 80 years ago, both functions can now be performed just as easily by private lenders and insurers.

As a result, he says, government is now effectively “competing with commercial banking, financing, and insurance,” going far beyond its role of promoting “free and honest trade around the world.”

Ironically, the same newspaper in which Schweitzer opposed re-authorization once held up his company as an example for why Ex-Im merits support.

“Although Boeing Co. is by far the biggest beneficiary,” argued a 2012 Spokesman-Review editorial, “in the last five years several Eastern Washington companies – SCAFCO in Spokane, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, and Colmac Coil in Colville have done more than $3 million worth of foreign business with Ex-Im’s help. Dozens, if not hundreds, of jobs have been created or sustained.”

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan also expressed his opposition to the bank Tuesday, saying that it “is corrupting free enterprise,” and calling it “a pretty obvious example of crony capitalism.” (RELATED: Is the Export-Import Bank Crony Capitalism)

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