Export Promotion:

Observations on the Export-Import Bank's Efforts to Achieve U.S. Policy Goals

GAO-10-1069T: Published: Sep 29, 2010. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 2010.

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This testimony discusses the role of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) in promoting exports and achieving other U.S. policy goals. As Congress considers policies to achieve more robust growth in the U.S. economy, it must consider the full range of tools available to further growth and create new jobs for U.S. workers. Some of these tools are related to promoting exports, which can have broad benefits to the U.S. economy. As the official export credit agency of the United States, Ex-Im has a key role in helping many U.S. firms achieve sales in foreign markets. In addition to establishing Ex-Im's broad mandate of supporting U.S. employment through exports, Congress has laid out specific, targeted goals for the bank in areas such as increasing financing for environmentally beneficial exports and expanding services to small and minority-owned businesses. This testimony provides some broad observations regarding Ex-Im's contribution to the export promotion goals announced in the President's National Export Initiative. It also describes progress Ex-Im has made in achieving the specific targets set by Congress, as well as some challenges the bank faces in meeting those targets. The statement also provides some background information concerning the ways in which exports can enhance U.S. economic output.

The President's National Export Initiative has put forth an ambitious goal of doubling exports in the next 5 years. Ex-Im has been identified as having a key role in the initiative, and a recent administration report identifies a number of specific actions for Ex-Im. Our work on Ex-Im's financing with respect to small business found areas where Ex-Im needed to improve its data systems for accurate reporting as well as its tracking of efforts to increase small business financing. Regarding Ex-Im's environmentally beneficial exports financing, we found that the bank could benefit from more consistently following strategic planning practices. Ex-Im has taken a number of steps in response to GAO recommendations, but opportunities for improvement remain. Additional attention to these issues will enable Ex-Im to develop better communication with Congress and other stakeholders regarding the balance between the small business and environmental export targets and the broader priorities in the National Export Initiative.

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