Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank is Vitally Important to Small Business

Seth Grae
The following is a guest post from Seth Grae, president and CEO of Lightbridge Corporation, a leading innovator of nuclear fuel designs and provider of nuclear energy consulting services.

There is a notion among some members of Congress that one way to shrink the U.S. government is to allow the U.S. Export-Import Bank to cease to exist at the end of September by refusing to reauthorize it. Allowing the Ex-Im Bank to die would actually increase the federal deficit by about a billion dollars per year and would be devastating to small businesses across the country. Overall, about 85% of Ex-Im’s transactions support US small companies.

Lightbridge Corporation (NASDAQ: LTBR) is a small company that has a world-class team of experts advising governments that are starting or expanding nuclear energy-generation programs. We have the opportunity to see the bid specs these countries use in procuring nuclear power plants. From what we’ve seen, if the US loses the Ex-Im Bank, US reactor vendors will not be able to meet the bid specs overseas. If this happens, the impact will ripple across the nation. When large US companies deploy reactors in other countries, they buy goods and services from smaller US companies through supply chains that reach hundreds of businesses. These supply chains often last for decades, during the operating life of the reactors.

Lightbridge has not applied for or received support from the Ex-Im Bank because we are paid directly by foreign governments and companies for services we provide, but we have firsthand knowledge of how vital the Ex-Im Bank is for other small US companies. Even where large American companies are not the reactor vendors, some US companies we work with receive support directly from the Ex-Im Bank for their involvement in overseas nuclear power programs.

These companies bring unique, world-leading expertise in vital areas, including nuclear safety and nonproliferation. The United States invented the nuclear reactor and our companies have the longest and deepest experience in running reactors safely. Having American personnel on the ground brings our expertise directly into foreign programs.

Congress’s failure to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank would cost taxpayers billions over the long term, hurt small businesses across the country, and limit the amount of American nuclear safety and nonproliferation expertise in foreign nuclear programs.

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