More than three dozen export credit agencies (ECAs) have been established by the governments of more than thirty countries around the world. 1 An ECA that is a focal point of this book is the agency established by the U.S. government: the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). This chapter is devoted to the Ex-Im's history, evolution, and operations of this agency.
Ex-Im has nothing to do with imports. The name is a misnomer. Ex-Im is only involved in transactions that result in the export of U.S. merchandise. In addition, Ex-Im has never done what its original charter mandated it to do. The institution was established in 1934 by an act of the U.S. Congress to facilitate the financing of trade with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), to which the U.S. government, under President Franklin Roosevelt, had just given official recognition. The Great Depression had already begun at that time, and little or no international trade was carried out during the 1930s. The institution was not used during World War II and, after the end of the war, the Cold War between the United States and the USSR began. Thus, trade between the two governments was never financed in a method requiring the guarantees of Ex-Im during those years.
In 1945, the Export-Import Bank Act was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law, creating the U.S. Export-Import Bank as we know it today. The agency was established to supplement, but not compete with, private export financing. It is not an aid or development agency,