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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at the Export-Import Bank Virtual Board Meeting on Domestic Content Policy

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Thank you, Chairman Reed and Directors Bachus and Pryor, for your leadership of this Board, and for your work developing the proposal we are considering today, permitting EXIM to provide full financing packages for exports in designated transformational sectors containing at least 51 percent U.S. content. This change is an update over the current policy which stipulates an 85 percent requirement. Over the past 40 years, this policy has helped ensure that EXIM Bank financing supports American exports and jobs. 

But as the world changes and global supply chains become more complex, our competitors have adopted more flexible approaches. Germany, for instance, requires 51 percent domestic content but can approve exceptions; the United Kingdom requires only 20 percent; and Canada requires zero percent provided that the transaction benefits Canada. Furthermore, EXIM Bank’s 2019 Report to the U.S. Congress on Global Export Credit Competition details how China provided $33.5 billion in financing during 2019, more than three times Italy at $11.1 billion. So I welcome the EXIM Board’s consideration of this proposal today to modernize the existing U.S. content policy.

The new measure aims to bolster U.S. export competitiveness, to the benefit of American exporters, jobs, and economic and national security. I understand too that if projects are deemed critical to national security in combatting China, this new proposal allows for a transaction with less than 51 percent U.S. content to also be considered for financial support from EXIM. This is critically important to U.S. exporters and foreign buyers experiencing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And as a result, EXIM will be able to support many of the more than $1 billion in financing requests in its pipeline under the Program on China and Transformational Exports, including several water treatment and 5G telecommunications programs, among others.

I am also especially pleased that this proposal includes the provision recommended by the Commerce Department requiring each applicant to submit a written action plan for expanding its U.S.-based jobs in the coming 3-5 years. This includes potentially shifting supply chains and sourcing to the United States from offshore. We must do all we can to keep our exporters viable and competitive during this time.

And my Department stands ready and willing to continue our work with EXIM as you implement your Program on China and Transformational Exports. Thank you, and I look forward to our discussion.

Leadership