Billions Meant for US Small Businesses Go to China, Russia: Watchdog

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Small businesses seeking to increase their overseas sales are supposed to be the primary beneficiaries of loan guarantees by the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), although a new analysis by a nonprofit government watchdog finds most of the funds are going to corporate giants and corrupt foreign regimes.

“Small businesses, supposedly the intended beneficiary of the Export-Import Bank, received only $54.8 billion of the over $234 billion in total assistance since 2007, or about 23 percent” of the bank’s total funding, according to the report by Open The Books (OTB), a Chicago-based nonprofit that monitors government spending.

By filing more than 40,000 federal Freedom of Information Act requests and posting the checkbooks of 49 state governments, OTB has posted to the internet more than $6 trillion in public spending. The nonprofit’s goal is to “post every dime in real-time.”

By far the biggest beneficiary of Ex-Im lending is Boeing Co., the largest U.S. aircraft manufacturer and one of the world’s most successful designers and builders of commercial airliners.

While currently based in Chicago, the company is planning a move to Arlington, Virginia, in the near future.

“The Export-Import Bank has been nicknamed ‘Boeing’s Bank’ by critics, and it is easy to see why. From 2007-2021, the aircraft giant received 33 percent of all of the Export-Import Bank’s assistance, totaling over $66.4 billion, while the second largest vendor received just over $5 billion. That’s more than all small businesses received combined,” the OTB report said.

“Boeing subsidiary Boeing Satellite Systems International reaped another $1.4 billion in assistance. Major international airline companies like Ryanair, Emirates Airlines, and Air Canada have all received assistance for Boeing purchases. Boeing employs a small army of 18 lobbyists to advocate for the Export-Import Bank.”

The second-largest beneficiary of the funding is Reston, Virginia-based Bechtel Corp., which ranked behind Boeing despite getting assistance for only seven contracts since 2007.

“The engineering and construction company received just over $5 billion from the bank for petroleum engineering in wealthy countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and India, as well as with governments like Serbia and Kenya,” according to the OTB report.

By Mark Tapscott

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