Boeing may move work abroad with Ex-Im future uncertain: chairman

Wed Jul 29, 2015 4:25pm EDT
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By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote) Chairman Jim McNerney on Wednesday said the aircraft maker was actively considering moving "key pieces" of its operations to other countries given the uncertainty of the future of the Export-Import Bank, whose charter expired on June 30.

"We are now forced to think about this differently," McNerney told hundreds of executives during an interview hosted by the Economic Club of Washington, noting that Boeing is looking at countries that offer export credits.

Boeing officials had no further details about which business operations could be affected or when the company had launched its review.

Boeing's engineering union, SPEEA, declined to comment on McNerney's remarks but said it has consistently supported Ex-Im reauthorization.

The Ex-Im Bank was created during the Great Depression to lend money to U.S. exporters and their foreign customers. Its charter lapsed after conservatives in the U.S. Congress cast it as a promoter of "crony capitalism" for multinationals such as Boeing and General Electric Co (GE.N: Quote).

Hopes of reviving the trade bank were dashed on Tuesday as Congress moved toward a short-term extension of highway funding without a provision to renew the bank's charter. That means the bank's fate hangs in the balance through September or October, McNerney said.

Uncertainty about the availability of export credits is already making companies skittish about buying a range of Boeing products, including commercial satellites, according to sources familiar with the situation who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the business negotiations.

McNerney's comments reflect U.S. industry's growing frustration about deep partisan divides that have paralyzed Congress since the rise of the right-wing Tea Party in 2010 and the imposition of mandatory spending cuts that have hit revenues at the defense division of Boeing and other arms makers.   Continued...

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney in Everett, Washington February 17, 2012.  REUTERS/Jason Reed