The Export-Import Bank of the United States (US Exim) has approved the first transaction under its domestic manufacturing programme, a direct loan of US$4.7mn to a Pennsylvania-based technology firm.

The financing supports the purchase of services and equipment by Aquatech, the North American export credit agency (ECA) says, in turn helping the company modernise and expand laboratories in two US states.

Nearly a dozen construction jobs and eight new positions at Aquatech will be created by the agreement, which will also help the firm compete to win contracts supplying foreign and domestic lithium extraction projects.

The transaction comes more than a year after US Exim formally launched its Make More in America Initiative (MMIA), which in the time since has made available the agency’s range of medium and long-term loans for the establishment or expansion of US-based manufacturing facilities with an “export nexus”.

US Exim had been recommended to explore the possibility of creating such a product a year earlier, following a 100-day White House review of supply chains for critical products, such as minerals and semiconductors.

“We are thrilled that Aquatech, a small business with more than 25 years of history with US Exim, is the first company we are able to support under the Make More in America Initiative,” says US Exim president and chair Reta Jo Lewis.

Venkee Sharma, executive chairman at Aquatech, says the support will enable the company to “better support” critical minerals and electric vehicle supply chains in the US and abroad, and demonstrates “the power of public-private coordination to strengthen American manufacturing competitiveness”.