US President Barack Obama has argued for the reauthorisation of the US Export-Import Bank (US Exim) in front of a group of US chief executives.

“One of the most important things congress can do right now for companies like yours, to sell your ideas and your products and your services around the world, is to re-authorise the Export-Import Bank at the appropriate funding level,” President Obama asserted.

US Exim provides financing for US exporters by providing funding or guarantees to support the financing of US export contracts.

The bank’s charter expired on September 30 last year, and it has been running on temporary authority since October, with the latest extension expiring on May 31.

In an election year, US Exim has attracted some criticism from Republicans and in an election year the future of the bank is very much under debate.

US Exim is hoping to increase its exposure cap to US$135bn; an amount agreed upon by the senate banking committee and the house financial services committee. The final approval of such a cap is pending a vote by the full house or senate. As yet, the vote has not been scheduled.

Speaking at the Business Roundtable held in early March; a collection of leading executives from US corporates and banks, Obama defended US Exim’s role in providing vital support to exporters during an economic downturn.

“During the financial crisis, trade finance dried up all around the world, and US Ex-Im Bank lived up to its mission – it stepped up to fill the void at record levels, and at no cost to taxpayers. In fact since 2005, US Ex-Im has returned billions back to the US treasury.”

Obama claimed that US Exim support is vital to help US exporters compete against other countries where he believes governments are providing “aggressive financing” for their exporters.

“I won’t stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules. A lot of you are expanding into growth markets, in emerging markets in Asia Pacific. But many of you, at least privately, have indicated to me that it gets harder and harder to do business there in terms of protecting your intellectual property, competing against indigenous innovation laws,” he argued.

Last year saw US Exim mark its third straight year of record authorisations at US$32.7bn, including a record US$6bn in small business transactions through its Global Access programme, up US$1bn from 2010.

The bank had an historic year in Sub-Saharan Africa, where its financing topped the US$1bn mark for the first time. The bank has also increased support for exports such as satellites and solar cells and authorised US$1.3bn in export financing for US-made communications satellites.

Overall US exports are rapidly growing; the country exported US$178.8bn in goods and services in December 2011, an increase of US$1bn compared to December 2010. During the whole of 2011, the US exported 33.53% more than in 2009 and exports have been growing at an annualised rate of 15.6% when compared to 2009, a pace greater than the 15% required to double exports by the end of 2014, according to US Exim.

Back in March 2010, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative which set a target to double US exports by 2015.

Click here to read more about the future of US Exim in the latest GTR.