MTD President Michael Sacco as well as a coalition of maritime unions and U.S.-flag shipping companies are setting the record straight about legislation in Congress to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank until 2015.
Sacco challenged a Washington Post editorial of April 9 that sought to end U.S.-flag shipping requirements for American export cargo generated by Ex-Im Bank loans. The newspaper went so far as to call the action “protectionist.” (Since its 1934 creation, Ex-Im Bank generated cargo has been carried aboard U.S.-flag vessels.)
“In an industry where foreign competitors are heavily subsidized by their governments, we must ensure American mariners move American goods financed by American tax dollars,” Sacco stated.
“The Post’s call for not expanding the portfolio of the Export-Import Bank should not be placed on the backs of yet more American workers who simply perform their jobs day-in and day-out in a safe, world-class manner.”
The measure before the Senate has bipartisan support and White House backing as the bank’s work produces U.S. jobs. Yet, the newspaper’s editorial board calls for a reduction of the bank’s portfolio in order to save money and “phase out market-distorting practices.”
In a separate response to the Post, Jim Henry, chairman of USA Maritime which is composed of U.S.-flag carriers and maritime unions (including several MTD affiliates), wrote: “The cargo vessels financed by Ex-Im Bank are vital to U.S. national security. They are among those vessels that meet critical Department of Defense national security sealift requirements and, as a result, transported over 90 percent of the equipment and supplies to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The use of these fleets is extremely cost-effective; it would cost at least $13 billion just for the capital costs of duplicating a portion of U.S.-flag sealift capability if purchased directly by the government.
“And finally, the operation of U.S.-flag ships provides Americans much-needed jobs; jobs that are critical to the U.S. industrial base.”
The bottom line, according to Henry, is, “By eliminating Ex-Im support, we will increase the cost of shipping, eliminate American jobs and weaken our national defense. This is a great investment in America and in our U.S. maritime fleet.”