Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined winemakers from the Walla Walla Valley in calling on Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which has supported exports of more than $70 million of Washington state wine since 2007.
Cantwell toured L’Ecole No. 41, an award-winning family-owned winery based in an historical schoolhouse in Lowden that has used the Export-Import Bank to expand its sales to other countries. The winery sold about $1 million worth of wine with assistance from the Export-Import Bank.
The Bank has helped Washington’s wine industry sell wines abroad to countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Denmark and Germany. The wine industry has a $500 million impact on Walla Walla county and supports more than 2,600 jobs. The Bank supports about 85,000 jobs overall in Washington state.
The Export-Import Bank is the export credit agency for the United States, and it finances or insures the purchase of U.S. goods by foreign customers. Export credit insurance enables wineries to expand international sales by protecting against the financial risk of a foreign customer not paying. The Export-Import Bank’s charter is set to expire Sept. 30, threatening export deals for Washington’s wine industry and more than 180 exporters in Washington state. In July, Cantwell cosponsored bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Bank’s charter for five years.
The Export-Import Bank is self-supported through interest payments and fees, turning a profit for the U.S. taxpayer. In 2013, the bank transferred $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury.
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