The commitment of the Obama administration to foster energy independence and to mitigate the impact of climate change, coupled with the flow of federal stimulus funding, should result in expanded activity in the environmental and renewable energy sectors of the U.S. economy. At the same time, many components of the nation's traditional industrial base, such as automobile and related supply chain manufacturing, may never recover to their former levels as economic recovery takes hold. Promoting the manufacturing of environmentally beneficial products such as wind turbines or energy efficient lighting, therefore, takes on heightened importance since it will achieve multiple, widely embraced policy objectives, from job creation to reduced fossil fuel consumption. As both the quantity and sophistication of goods and services produced by these sectors of the economy increase, U.S. businesses will seek expanded sales opportunities for their products abroad. Such export sales, however, will require capital on the part of both the domestic exporter and the foreign purchaser.
For businesses in the environmental and renewable energy sectors seeking capital in a tumultuous credit market, a potential source for those selling their products and services abroad is the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank).1 Importantly, Ex-Im Bank has established an Environmental Exports Program in recent years, and its authorizations for Fiscal Year 2008 for renewable energy and environmentally beneficial goods and services reached $257.3 million.2
This article discusses the federal policy objectives behind government sponsorship of an export bank, the particular financing programs that Ex-Im Bank operates to support U.S. businesses engaged in exporting, and the incentive program that Ex-Im Bank has implemented in order to promote the export of renewable energy and environmentally beneficial products. The article also addresses some of the mechanics of obtaining Ex-Im Bank financing. Given the ongoing turmoil in the international financial markets and the probable growth of the environmental and renewable energy sectors in the near future, familiarity with Ex-Im Bank programs could be beneficial to manufacturers and service providers engaged in or contemplating international green trade.