President Signs Bill Strengthening Small Business Access to Export Financing
Washington, December 21, 2006
Legislation to improve small business access to export financing – that was strongly backed by the Small Business Exporters Association of the United States – was signed by the President yesterday evening.
“This is some of the most important legislation ever passed to aid small American companies that need to finance their exports,” said James Morrison, President of the Small Business Exporters Association of the United States. “At a time of record high trade deficits, Congress and the President have taken very constructive steps to strengthen U.S. exports.”
The new legislation will ratify several enhancements that the Bank was making to its export financing for smaller exporters, as well as make additional changes recommended by SBEA to improve the handling of small business transactions.
Ex-Im Bank provides guarantees and insurance to companies that export and the commercial banks and other financial institutions which finance those transactions.
Under the new law, Ex-Im Bank will be required to:
• Continue devoting at least 20% of its financing dollars to small business.
• Create a permanent Small Business Division at the Bank, headed by a Senior Vice President who will report directly to the Bank President.
• Designate a group of underwriters at the Bank to focus solely on small business transactions, and provide them with authority to “sign off” on small business transactions.
• Give the Senior VP for Small Business significant responsibility for monitoring the work of the small business underwriters, and reviewing small business financing applications prior to any disapproval by the Bank.
• Streamline its applications process, putting the entire process online and responding to applications within five days.
• Create an office at the Bank to assist women and minority-owned businesses.
• Delegate more transaction processing and approvals to commercial banks.
These changes to current law were made as Congress renewed the charter for Ex-Im Bank for the next five years. While the Bank had made some of the changes internally before Congress acted, the new law will assure that these and other changes are permanent.
Members of the House and Senate who played an important role in enacting the small business changes were: Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Representatives Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Don Manzullo (R-IL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Mike Oxley (R-OH), Barney Frank (D-MA) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY).
SBEA worked on the small business provisions in the Ex-Im legislation for more than a year, testifying on it five times and coordinating closely with members of Congress and their staffs.
SBEA is the oldest and largest non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to small and mid-sized exporting companies in the United States. It also is the international trade council for the National Small Business Association (NSBA).
For nearly 70 years, NSBA has been an advocate for the interests of small businesses throughout the country. The organization, which reaches more than 150,000 small businesses, is the nation’s oldest nonprofit advocacy organization for small business.
The Small Business Exporters Association of the United States is located at 1156 15th Street NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20005. The phone number is (202) 659-9320.