United States: Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM)
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) is the official U.S. export credit agency. It is an independent federal agency that provides financial support of U.S exports in order to bolster U.S. job growth. EXIM provides trade financing solutions – including export credit insurance, working capital guarantees, and guarantees of commercial loans to foreign buyers.
Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM)
Created In: 1934
Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States
Mission: EXIM is an independent, self-sustaining Executive Branch agency with a mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services.
EXIM is an Equator Principles Financial Institution (EPFI), which means that it adheres to the Equator Principles (EPs) risk management framework for determining, assessing, and managing environmental and social risk in the projects that it supports. As of 1 May, 2011, EXIM implemented the EPs through its Environmental and Social Due Diligence Procedures and Guidelines (ESPG), which cover the processes for screening, categorization, guidelines, and environmental and social impacts review of all EXIM transactions, including project financing and project-related corporate loans.
As a federal agency, EXIM abides by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA, found in Section 552 of Title 5 of the United States Code, was enacted by Congress to provide the public with access to certain federal records. The Act requires federal agencies to produce government records in response to requests from the public, provided that the records are not exempt from disclosure by FOIA.
EXIM currently does not have an accountability office through which affected communities can seek redress for their complaints.
Advocating for the Creation of a Robust Accountability Office
Accountability Counsel has actively advocated for the creation of an accountability office at EXIM to provide redress and accountability for the export credit agency’s activities.
On 28 September, 2015, the EXIM Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released its Report on the Project Financing of Sasan Power Limited. The OIG is an independent office within EXIM that conducts and supervises audits, investigations, inspections, and evaluations related to the agency’s programs and operations. The Sasan Project involved the construction and operation of a 3,960 MW coal-fired power plant and a captive coal mine in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. EXIM provided a 16-year financing commitment of $650 million for the export of U.S. mining equipment and services.
In this report, the OIG highlighted that EXIM does not have a formal grievance mechanism to resolve complaints by parties who claim to be adversely affected by Bank-funded projects. The OIG stated that the “Bank’s process for receiving, processing, and tracking the resolution of complaints is more informal and lags best practices.” The OIG recommended that EXIM establish a more formal process and procedures for responding to such complaints. In their response, EXIM management agreed with this recommendation.
On 4 January, 2016, Accountability Counsel sent a joint response with 40 other organizations and individuals to EXIM’s Chairman and President Fred Hochberg regarding the OIG’s Sasan report and subsequent response from Management. In our letter, we offered our expertise and support for the creation of an accountability office. On 8 January, 2016, Chairman Hochberg invited us to meet with the team that EXIM established to develop a more effective process for addressing project-related concerns and complaints.
After meeting with EXIM’s team, the bank formally launched an Environmental and Social Project Information and Concerns feedback form on its website on 30 June, 2016.
About the Feedback Process:
- The feedback form is a management tool for receiving information requests and addressing complaints. It allows for individuals, groups, and community representatives to highlight concerns.
- The form can be submitted anonymously.
- The complainant will receive an automated acknowledgement of receipt within 3 days of submission, and a review and response within approximately 30 days. The complainant will receive a reference number in response to the submission.
- A team consisting of staff from EXIM’s Engineering and Environment, General Counsel, and other relevant divisions will review the submission.
- There is a registry of the complaints that EXIM receives.
- Read more about EXIM’s process for reviewing submissions here.
The feedback form is a promising development and a step toward greater accountability at EXIM. However, as we outlined in an August 2018 op-ed in The Hill, EXIM should take the next step and create a robust, independent accountability office, which would be a value-add to both the agency and affected communities.
We will continue to advocate for an independent accountability office through which affected communities can more effectively seek redress for their complaints.
Strengthening EXIM’s Environmental and Social Practices
In addition to pushing for the creation of a robust accountability office at EXIM, AC has also called on the Bank to operate according to best practice in the area of environmental and social due diligence. In January 2019, we submitted recommendations with 13 of our partners to improve EXIM’s Annual Competitiveness Report Survey of Exporters and Bankers. The survey will be sent to U.S. exporters and commercial lending institutions that have used EXIM’s services over the past year. It asks participants to evaluate the competitiveness of EXIM’s programs, and how the programs compare to those of foreign credit agencies, namely the major OECD official export credit agencies. EXIM will use the responses to develop an analysis of EXIM’s competitiveness inform the annual, congressionally mandated Competitiveness Report.
Our submission called on EXIM to specifically request an assessment of its social review practices. EXIM has committed to implementing all of our recommendations in the revised survey. We will push EXIM to use the information gathered through the survey and the overall analysis of EXIM’s competitiveness to ensure that it is a leader in environmental and social practices.
Documents by Release Date
Jan 2016 – Accountability Counsel, and 40 civil society organizations, submitted a joint letter to Chairman Hochberg.
Sep 2015 – EXIM management’s response to OIG’s Report on the Project Financing of Sasan Power Limited
Sep 2015 – OIG’s Report on the Project Financing of Sasan Power Limited