Obama visits 787 factory, calls for export finance match

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Speaking from Boeing's 787 final assembly line, US President Barack Obama today announced an expansion of the nation's Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank in a push to aid the small businesses that support exports.

In the first visit of a US President to Boeing's Everett, Washington, facility since 1993, Obama also instructed the Ex-Im bank to match the financing conditions of its overseas counterparts.

"I'm also instructing the Ex-Im bank to give American companies a fair shot by matching the unfair export financing that their competitors receive from other countries," said Obama, who cited US competition with Europe and China as the driver for the move.

As part of the President's visit, Boeing also announced it will become the latest US exporter to sign onto the supply chain financing programme to "help its eligible small-business suppliers gain access to affordable financing" through the Ex-Im bank.

The establishment of the system is the latest move by the Obama Administration to double US exports by 2013, and coincides with the commercial aerospace industry's steepest production ramp-up that will see Boeing raise rates 40% by 2014.

The global supply chain that supports jetliner production is seen as the key to reaching and sustaining the high rates of production, with the available liquidity and financial stability of many small suppliers at issue.

The financing programme will be operated by Citibank N.A. and will provide small discount rates to suppliers in exchange for early payment of their bills from Boeing.

The supplier programme was initially authorised in September 2011 with the Ex-Im bank's approval for an initial $740 million financing capacity.