News Column

Schumer supports maintaining Export-Import Bank

September 4, 2014

By Joe LoTemplio, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Sept. 04--PLATTSBURGH -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says the loss of the federal Export-Import Bank could be devastating to many businesses here.

"This Ex-Im bank is very, very important for North Country companies," Schumer (D-Brooklyn) said during a visit to Plattsburgh Wednesday afternoon.

"It's probably more than 500 jobs in the Plattsburgh area that are dependent on the Export-Import Bank."


The Export-Import Bank was established in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a way for foreign interests to secure financing to purchase goods and services from American companies.

It has existed largely without fanfare since its inception and has received bipartisan support the dozen times it was re-authorized over the years.

But in recent months, it has become a political football, with a faction of the Republican Party opposes re-authorizing the bank when its term runs out Sept. 30.

Opponents argue that the bank is competing with private commercial banks in the United States and that taxpayer money should not be used to finance such business, that the private sector should make the loans.


Schumer said the bank helps put American businesses on a level playing field because U.S. importers are often met by competition from foreign companies overseas that have an advantage because they are backed or wholly owned by their governments.

Through direct loans, loan guarantees and insurance programs, the Ex-Im Bank helps lessen risk for foreign buyers so they can more easily purchase U.S. products, which helps American businesses expand and sell their products all over the world, Schumer said.

About 270 businesses in New York state directly benefit from the bank, he said, many of them small.

The bank has supported about $6 billion in New York exports over the last five years, including about $26 million in the Plattsburgh area, his office said.

Nationwide, it supported about $37.4 billion in American exports in 2013, with small businesses accounting for nearly 90 percent of the bank's transactions.


Swarovski Lighting and Plattco in Plattsburgh are two American companies that benefit from the Ex-Im Bank, as many of their products are sold overseas to businesses that get loans from that bank.

The senior New York senator, who has served in the Senate since 1999, toured Swarovski Lighting in Plattsburgh on Wednesday.

He said the bank directly helps small companies stay in business and that if it is dissolved, it would be a huge blow to many companies.

"It's one of the key tools that we have in our toolbox to support manufacturing jobs," Schumer said.

"As we've learned over the years, manufacturing jobs are a bellwether of the middle class."

Swarovski employs about 350 people at its Plattsburgh plant.

Peter Pelletier, senior vice president for Swarovski, said about 50 percent of their business is in exports and that losing the Ex-Im Bank would be a great concern.

He handed Schumer a white pen with shiny crystals embedded in the top.

"You can give this to the president to sign the bill to keep the bank," Pelletier said.


Danielle Howard-Ross of Plattco, which makes airlock valves for industrial equipment, said the company has experienced significant growth the past five years and anticipates more growth, but the dissolution of the bank could hurt.

"About 30 percent of our business is exports," she said.

Schumer said it would make no sense to dissolve the bank because other countries have a similar system where they finance companies doing business in their homelands.

"We would be fighting with one hand tied behind our backs if we did this," he said.

Schumer said renewal of the bank was always a "slam dunk" that both Democrats and Republicans supported.

"Ex-Im Bank is a classic example of the new form of gridlock," he said.

"I'm hopeful that it won't succeed, and I am hopeful that the gridlock is short-lived."

Email Joe LoTemplio:

Twitter: @jlotemplio


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Source: Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, NY)

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