U.S. Export-Import Bank Seminar Will Expand Business Opportunities in California's 35th Congressional District
I gave opening remarks at the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) Seminar, "Extend Credit and Get Paid for Your Exports to Africa." Rep. Waters invited the Ex-Im Bank to Los Angeles to discuss business opportunities and, according to the Ex-Im Bank, "learn how Ex-Im Bank products can help them get working capital to finance export sales, protect against buyer nonpayment, and offer buyer financing for capital equipment and services." The seminar was hosted by the City of Inglewood and the U.S. Department of Commerce's Downtown Los Angeles Export Assistance Center. Rep. Waters made the following statement at the event:
Good Morning. Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to thank the Mayor of the City of Inglewood, Roosevelt Dorn, and Bobby Hines, International Trade Specialist, of the Los Angeles Export Center of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the representatives form the U.S. Export-Import Bank for holding today's seminar "Extend Credit and Get Paid For Your Exports to Africa" in Inglewood, CA.
I am thrilled that the Ex-Im Bank and the Department of Commerce chose to host today's event in Inglewood, CA. The City of Inglewood is a thriving part of the 35th Congressional District of California. Some 115, 208 persons live in the City of Inglewood; 47.1 percent are African American and 46.0 percent are Latino. At last count, there were 6552 businesses located in the City of Inglewood, a number that has surely grown since the 2000 Census. Minority owned firms represent 56.5 percent of the businesses, while women owned firms total 25.8 percent. Approximately 60 percent of the persons in the City are homeowners. So, not only is the City of Inglewood a place where business is taken seriously by the community, it is place to great place to live.
Today's seminar is an opportunity for businesses in this and the surrounding communities that are engaged in exporting their goods to become familiar with ways to expand their business, particularly in Africa. California is one of the nation's leading exporters with some $116 billion in exports in 2005. California is one of four states, including Florida, New York and Texas, that represent 41 percent of the know U.S. export value in 2004. Not surprisingly, much of California's exports go to Mexico and Japan, and not to Africa. However, many of you know that African is a major priority of the Ex-Im Bank, the World Bank and the IMF. And, of course, the Gates Foundation has made health and education in Africa a top priority. So with the incredible amount of resources devoted to Africa, it only makes sense that business opportunities will follow and exports to Africa will increase.
During the past several years I have worked closely with my colleagues on the Committee on Financial Services and the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology of which I am a Member to develop measures that promote U.S. exports to Africa and to increase the role of small minority and women owned business enterprises in Ex-Im Bank programs. In 2002, the Bank was required to expand its activities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Congress also required the Bank to establish an Advisory Committee on Sub-Saharan Africa. The Advisory Committee is made up of exporters and bankers with background and knowledge of the Region, and it is required to develop recommendations on the Bank activities in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2003, the Commission on Capital Flows to Africa made a number of recommendations for increasing capital flows to Africa by the Ex-Im Bank, including allowing 20 year repayment terms for African countries, raising credit costs form 15% to 50 percent of the export value, and offering guarantees and loans in local currency.
More recently, in May of 2006, the Committee on Financial Services passed, H.R.5068, legislation to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank for five years. A major provision of the bill is the establishment of a Small Business Division within the Bank, which I strongly supported. It places responsibility for the management of the Small Business Division at the highest management levels of the Bank. This was something previously unheard of at the Bank. The bill also requires Ex-Im Bank to develop closer relationships with the African Development Bank, the Africa Export-Import Development, and other financial institutions to strengthen export programs to increase the flow of U.S. exports to Africa.
I am very proud that the reauthorization bill includes two amendments that I authored. One amendment requires the Bank to study ways as to how the Bank can increase U.S. exports to new and emerging democracies, including Liberia and Haiti. Once that study is submitted to Congress it will provide a blueprint for action. Another amendment requires the Bank to develop performance measures for all Bank program activities related to small, minority and women owned businesses. In the past, the Bank has not aggressively promoted many of these businesses in its export activities. Indeed, later this year, when these measures become law we will have added incentives for increased participation of small, minority in women owned businesses in the Bank's export activities. In Fiscal Year 2005, Ex-Im issued $13.9 billion in financing – mostly guarantees and insurance of commercial loans. That financing supported $17.8 billion in U.S. exports. It is the U.S. exports that in turn help to support jobs in places like the City of Inglewood. In the same year, the Bank approved 3,100 separate credit authorizations. Of these, 2,600, or 84 percent were to support exports of by small and medium sized companies. My goal is to ensure that these opportunities to export are also shared equally by minority and women owned firms.
Today's seminar is evidence of the priority that Ex-Im Bank has placed on small business and opportunities in Africa. I believe that we will witness an even more robust agenda related to small business and Africa over the next several years. Laying the foundation to do business and to expand business in Africa makes sense. Accessibility to Ex-Im Bank and the U.S. Department of Commerce, both repositories of a wealth information and expertise on exports, is one critical element to add to your business strategy to achieve business success. Ex-Im bank products are available in just about in country in Africa. Whether it is export credit insurance, buyer financing, used and refurbished equipment guarantee, aircraft finance, working capital guarantee, or project finance, each of these Ex-Im Bank products is designed to smooth the ride for U.S. exporters.
You will have an opportunity to learn more about Ex-Im programs and the unique experience of the experts about how to best use these program to be successful in Africa. Although trade with Africa represents a fraction of our trade globally, that is certain to change. By participating in today's seminar you are giving yourselves a leg up on the competition, as well as to be part of the change. I thank you for participating in this very exciting event. Enjoy today's program.