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Highlights

The Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) provides financing to support U.S. exports, and its support for environmentally beneficial exports has been of long-standing congressional interest. In fiscal year 2008, Congress directed Ex-Im to allocate 10 percent of its annual financing to renewable energy and environmentally beneficial products and services. For fiscal years 2009 and 2010, it directed Ex-Im to allocate 10 percent to renewable energy and energy efficient end-use technologies. In 2009, it directed GAO to conduct a review of Ex-Im's efforts to meet congressional directives concerning environmental exports financing. This report addresses (1) the extent of Ex-Im's financing of renewable energy, energy efficient end-use technologies, and other environmentally beneficial exports; (2) Ex-Im's definitions for, and its reporting on, these exports; and 3) the extent to which Ex-Im has followed strategic planning key practices in its planning efforts in these areas. GAO analyzed Ex-Im transaction data and planning documents and interviewed officials from Ex-Im, other U.S. agencies, state-level trade promotion agencies, environmental industry associations, and other industry experts.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Export-Import Bank of the United States 1. To improve the planning and reporting of its activities related to environmental exports, the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank should develop and provide clear definitions for its subcategories of environmentally beneficial exports--especially energy efficient end-use technologies--and report annually on the level of financing for each of the subcategories. These definitions should be developed in conjunction with other agencies as appropriate.
Closed - Implemented
The Export-Import Bank agreed with our findings and stated that it would strive to implement our recommendations promptly. Ex-Im has published on its website examples of energy efficiency items, including examples in a definitional subcategory for end-use energy efficient exports. It has also included the level of financing provided for energy-efficient end-use technologies in Ex-Im's annual report in 2011. These actions fully address our recommendation.
Export-Import Bank of the United States 2. To improve the planning and reporting of its activities related to environmental exports, the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank should consistently implement key practices for effective strategic planning, including the following (1) clearly communicating the bank's priorities for increasing financing of renewable energy and energy efficient end-use technologies to both internal and external stakeholders, and soliciting input on how to do so; (2)demonstrating in the bank's strategic planning documents a more complete and systematic assessment of external and internal factors affecting environmentally beneficial exports financing, such as market information for energy efficiency exports and the availability of needed Ex-Im services for exporters; and (3) using these assessments to determine the resources required and realign resources if needed.
Closed - Implemented
The Export-Import Bank agreed with our findings and stated that it would strive to implement our recommendations promptly. Ex-Im has laid out its recommendations for increasing Ex-Im Bank's support for renewable energy in its FY 2011 Business Plan for internal stakeholders, which include communicating Ex-Im's support for renewable energy exports to external stakeholders through conference attendance, speaking engagements, and industry outreach. Ex-Im has also reported on the results of their planned FY 2011 and FY 2012 business development activities, as a follow up to its FY 2011 Business Plan. These actions address part 1 of this recommendation. Ex-Im provided examples of assessments determining internal and external factors affecting environmental financing. It also stated that in response to increased demand and specific factors outlined in the assessments (eg, increased solar transactions in India), the Bank had dedicated one staff person in the Project Finance Division, to be the subject matter expert for renewable energy within the Division. These actions address parts 2 and 3 of this recommendation.

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