U.S. EXIM Bank says 2020 financing volume still far below global rivals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Export-Import Bank of the United States said on Wednesday it remained far behind its global competitors in financing volume in 2020 even as overall financing activity fell due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its annual competition report here to Congress, EXIM said it authorized $1.8 billion in official medium- and long-term export credit support during calendar 2020, compared with global leader China at $18 billion, France at $12.1 billion, Germany at $8.6 billion and South Korea at $5 billion.

China, traditionally the largest provider of export credit, saw its financing volume decrease last year from over $33 billion in 2019.

EXIM provides direct loans, commercial loan guarantees, export credit insurance and working capital guarantees for U.S. exporters.

It is still recovering from years of operating at diminished capacity after conservative Republicans in Congress tried to shutter the institution in 2015, arguing that it provided “corporate welfare.”

In 2014, the agency reported here it had authorized $12.5 billion in medium- and long-term export credit support, a year in which it said China approved volume of $58 billion.

EXIM in 2019 secured a seven-year re-authorization, the longest in its 87-year history, and saw Congress restore its full board membership. That allowed it to resume financing large deals above $10 million, such as commercial aircraft and power plants.

At the end of 2020, EXIM said it had a backlog of about $39 billion worth of projects in its financing pipeline awaiting approvals.

“EXIM is on the pathway back to being a leader in export credit and providing the nature and scale of official MLT export credit needed to give U.S. exporters and U.S. interests a fair shot at trade opportunities in the years ahead, EXIM’s acting vice chairman, James Cruse, said in a statement.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Leslie Adler