Publication Date: July 2003
Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service
Research Area: Banking and finance; Trade
The Export-Import Bank is an independent U.S. government agency that is charged with financing and promoting exports of U.S. goods and services. The Bank operates under a renewable charter, the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, as amended, and has been authorized through September 30, 2006. Congress has amended the Bank's charter at times to meet various objectives, primarily U.S. foreign policy and international economic goals. These amendments restrict the Bank's activities relative to particular types of economic activities or have acted to advance other U.S. goals and objectives, such as improving workers' rights, protecting the environment, or protecting U.S. jobs.
Eximbank's legislative restrictions mark a clear distinction between the ExportImport Bank and any commercial financial institution and complicate the Eximbank's role as a quasi-banking institution involved in lending and insuring U.S. export transactions. Some restrictions likely serve primarily to advance very specific U.S. international economic or foreign policy goals and likely have a limited impact on the Bank's activities. Other restrictions, however, may well reduce somewhat the pool of firms that seek Eximbank's assistance in promoting U.S. exports. As a result, this assortment of restrictions and policy objectives often makes it difficult to determine what standard to apply to assess how well the Bank is performing. This report details the major restrictions Congress has placed on Eximbank's activities. This report will be updated as warranted by events.