Aerospace & Defense

The Boeing Fight to Save the Export-Import Bank Begins in Earnest Next Week

Boeing F15 Fighter
Source: Courtesy Boeing Co.
Among the first items of business Congress is expected to take up when members return from vacation next week is a reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. No company has fought harder — or stands to lose more — than aircraft maker Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA). Without the Ex-Im Bank, Boeing would have to find another way to finance an additional $3.5 billion to $5.5 billion in export sales, according to Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

On one side, congressional conservatives and Tea Partiers are joined by the airlines, arguing for dissolution or significant reforms of the Ex-Im Bank. Heading into the off-year elections in November, how a Congressperson votes could be a litmus test for that member’s conservative credentials. Many House members have called the Ex-Im the “Bank of Boeing” and a definition of the term “crony capitalism.”

On the other side, Boeing does not stand alone, but it has been the most visible support of a reauthorization of the bank. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers also support reauthorizing the bank for a full five years. The bank’s latest financial statement indicates that 3,413 of 3,842 lending deals worth a total of $27.3 billion went to small business. Of the total dollar amount of $27.3 billion in loans and guarantees, $5.22 billion was directed at small businesses, down from $6.12 billion in fiscal year 2012.

In 2013 the bank made long-term loans totaling nearly $6.9 billion and guaranteed another $12.2 billion in new loans. Boeing received nearly two-thirds of the total guarantees — about $7.9 billion worth. The United Arab Emirates received the highest total of Boeing guarantees at just over $900 million. The UAE’s Emirates is Boeing’s largest customer for its 777 family of planes, with 289 of Boeing’s total of 1,803 orders for the 777. Emirates has taken delivery of 86 777s and has ordered 53 more 777-300ERs and 150 of the still-to-be-built 777X.

The debate and ultimate vote on reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank is nearly all about politics and the stakes are high for House members, all of whom are facing voters in November. The conservatives arguably have more to lose if they cannot kill the bank. One analyst told Bloomberg that even a short-term reauthorization to get through the election “raises the odds of a more permanent and longer term extension” and that would be viewed as a clear loss for the bank’s conservative opponents.

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