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While the recession has left U.S. economic growth straggling at less than 3 percent, annual growth in such emerging economies as China, India, Brazil and Turkey is ticking along at 7 percent or higher, notes Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. That's an irresistible lure for savvy U.S. companies, not least the country's small and medium-sized businesses.
"When I was in business myself, the rule was that once you saturated the U.S. market, then you'd think about exporting. But that's dated; exporting is now an integral part of any good business strategy," says Hochberg, who served in the Small Business Administration under President Clinton and was appointed to his current post by President Obama in January 2009. He steered his mother's catalog company, Lillian Vernon, from 1974 to 1993. Under his leadership, it went from a family-owned, $4m retailer to a $180m public company.
The Ex-Im Bank approved more than $32bn in export financing in the 12 months through September, with more than $6bn going to support overseas sales for small businesses. That figure is up from $24.5bn for the 12 months ended September 2010. The bank works to fill financing gaps for small and mid-sized exporters, providing working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance, and supply chain financing.
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