* Bank president says companies would be hurt
* Delta Air chaffing at Boeing loans that help rivals
WASHINGTON, April 11 Taxpayer-backed financing
would "grind to a halt" and many U.S. companies would find
themselves at a competitive disadvantage if Congress does not
renew the Export-Import Bank charter by the end of May, the
bank's president said.
In remarks prepared for delivery at the bank's annual
meeting on Thursday, Fred Hochberg said an effort by some
lawmakers to "gut" the organization would disarm businesses
"just as foreign competition is heating up."
Hochberg said export credit agencies around the world are
"working to expand their footprint" and increase their
"This is the world we live in. And we've got to compete in
the world as it is, not as we'd like it to be," Hochberg said.
"However, some in Congress don't accept this. They want us to
move in the opposite direction."
The comments were the most pointed yet by Hochberg on the
election-year controversy that has complicated White House
efforts to renew authority for the nearly 80-year-old bank for
another four years and raise its credit exposure ceiling by $40
billion to $140 billion.
Its charter expires on May 31.
Bank supporters say it is conservatively run, has
experienced very few defaults and makes money for the
government. President Barack Obama has touted it as a key to his
administration's goal of doubling exports.
Critics say the bank is an unnecessary government intrusion
in the market and puts taxpayer funds at risk.
It provides loans and credit guarantees to help Boeing
, its biggest customer, and other U.S. manufacturers make
sales in markets that private banks consider too risky to
operate in without U.S. government backing.
China, Canada, France, Brazil and other countries have
similar government export credit agencies.
Delta Air Lines has raised concerns about the
fairness of taxpayer-based loans to help Boeing. Delta says it
is hurt by the bank's financing that allows foreign carriers to
buy Boeing planes at lower interest rates than the Atlanta-based
airline can get in the commercial market.
U.S. airlines sued last year to block loan guarantees for
the sale of Boeing aircraft to Air India. The court denied an
initial injunction and the case is pending.
Delta has said the airline's aim is to eliminate all export
financing for wide-body jets, such as Boeing's 777 and the
Airbus A380, which are the type used on long
Lawmakers are expected to take up the issue this month.