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Statement for the Record, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Jan. 28, 2014

Statement for the Record
By the Nuclear Energy Institute

Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
United States Senate
On Reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank
January 28, 2014

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI[1]) appreciates the opportunity to provide its views on reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank.  The Ex-Im Bank’s charter expires September 30, 2014.

Opportunity to create thousands of U.S. jobs

The global expansion of nuclear energy infrastructure provides the United States a unique opportunity to increase U.S. exports and create American jobs.  Worldwide, 71 new nuclear energy facilities are under construction[2], and an additional 172 are in the licensing and advanced planning stages.[3]  The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates the value of this market at up to $740 billion over the next decade.  Capturing even a modest share of this market will enable the United States to create and sustain many thousands of high-paying U.S. jobs.

Ex-Im Bank is vital to U.S. commercial nuclear exports

Export credit agency support is generally a prerequisite for participation in foreign nuclear power plant tenders.  Without Ex-Im Bank, U.S. commercial nuclear suppliers would be precluded from competing for international business.

Ex-Im Bank plays a vital role in helping to level the playing field for U.S. commercial nuclear suppliers.  Global commercial nuclear opportunities are concentrated in emerging markets, where financing is most critical.  The global commercial nuclear market is dominated by government-supported, government-financed competitors.  By providing structured finance for U.S. commercial nuclear projects, Ex-Im Bank prevents foreign competitors from enjoying an undue advantage.

Ex-Im Bank has supported nuclear exports to a wide range of countries, including Taiwan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, China, Russia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Romania.  In 2012, Ex-Im Bank authorized $2 billion in financing for U.S. exports to the Barakah One Nuclear Power Plant in the United Arab Emirates. U.S. companies party to the transaction include Westinghouse, CH2M Hill, and Bechtel. According to estimates, the financing will support approximately 5,000 American jobs in 17 states.[4]

Ex-Im Bank is considering support for a $10 billion nuclear power plant expansion project in the Czech Republic. The Czech customer CEZ will select between Westinghouse and the Russian supplier Rosatom for the $10 billion tender. 

To promote U.S. competitiveness in the large and growing international market for nuclear energy, NEI urges the Committee to support Ex-Im Bank’s reauthorization.  Specifically, we support the following measures:

Reauthorize Ex-Im for a Long Duration

Doubts about Ex-Im Bank’s future hurt the competitiveness U.S. nuclear exporters today.  The tender process and project development for nuclear power plants occurs over many years.  Customers must be assured that financing will be available when it is needed.  The Bank has been operating under a series of short-term extensions with only a modest increase to its lending cap.  Foreign competitors have used uncertainty about the Bank’s reauthorization and terms as a reason not to procure from U.S. suppliers.  A long-term extension would reassure customers of U.S. commercial nuclear exports that the Bank (and the U.S. government) is a reliable partner. If the current situation continues, export sales will be lost, jeopardizing U.S. jobs.

Make Ex-Im Bank fully competitive with other ECAs

Section 2 of the Ex-Im Bank Charter establishes Congress’s intention that the mandate of the Bank is to provide export financing that is fully competitive with the financing provided by other export credit agencies in support of their companies.  NEI supports favorable consideration by Congress of proposals to address the Bank’s competitive disadvantages against other ECAs, including its higher domestic content requirement, its relatively low lending cap, and its limitations on financing services.  In particular, NEI proposes that Ex-Im Bank be specifically authorized to provide equity financing, in addition to loans and loan guarantees, to support U.S. content in carbon-free electricity generation projects.  Other export credit agencies – e.g., the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) – provide both debt and equity financing, and Ex-Im Bank should include the same scope in its portfolio of financing options.



[1] The Nuclear Energy Institute is responsible for establishing unified nuclear industry policy on matters affecting the nuclear energy industry, including regulatory, financial, technical and legislative issues.  NEI members include all companies licensed to operate commercial nuclear power plants in the United States, nuclear plant designers, major architect/engineering firms, fuel fabrication facilities, materials licensees, and other organizations and individuals involved in the nuclear energy industry.

[2] International Atomic Energy Agency, http://www.iaea.org/pris/, accessed January 24, 2014.

[4] Export-Import Bank of the United States News Release, September 7, 2012.