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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Ex-Im Bank Ready To Boost Loan Program

The U.S. Export-Import Bank is prepared to step up its lending activities in Russia, Ex-Im Bank president and chairman James Harmon said Wednesday in Moscow.

He said in an interview that he will use his three-day visit to combine "old business that we're trying to get done and new things that we're trying to explore."

"Under the new leadership under President [Vladimir] Putin and [Prime Minister Mikhail] Kasyanov, this is the right moment to see if we can strengthen our partnership by finding ways to do more."

The bank's two largest projects, which Harmon said were stalled after the 1998 crisis, are an agricultural transaction of $200 million to $400 million for equipment from agricultural-machinery makers John Deere and Case and a $120 million loan for U.S.-made engines for three Russian Il-96 aircraft.

No contracts have been signed, but Harmon said he was hopeful the deals would proceed.

Harmon said the bank has a "long list of other transactions in the pipeline in different industry sectors, from textiles to mining to telecommunications."

He also said the bank f which has in the past conducted transactions with giants such as Gazprom, Aeroflot and, earlier this year, Tyumen Oil Co. f will put a new focus on small businesses and health care.

"While we do many things in capital equipment and the industrial area, we are particularly proud with what we can do to help in the health care of these people," Harmon said after touring a hospital that in June received a $31 million loan from Ex-Im that was guaranteed by Ex-Im's local partner, Vneshekonombank.

"This is the fourth transaction in health care [in Russia], but we are here to see how we could do more," he said.

Grigory Golukhov, the chief doctor of the Scientific Center of Children's Health of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, or Hospital No. 31, expressed effusive thanks to his visitors as he showed off the new equipment f nearly all of which was purchased through the Ex-Im loan or with a similar German loan. The new building on the hospital grounds was paid for mostly with money loaned from the Turkish Ex-Im.

Golukhov said that after reconstruction, the hospital, which every year treats 20,000 inpatients and "countless thousands" of outpatients, would hold 720 beds.

Harmon said he had been convinced to reduce the fees to the hospital by 50 percent, a rare act in Ex-Im Bank's history, after a meeting with Kasyanov two months ago in Washington.

During his stay, Harmon is to meet with Kasyanov and attend a breakfast meeting with the local American Chamber of Commerce.

Ex-Im is an independent federal government agency that supports American exporters by providing loans, loan guarantees and export credit insurance to foreign entities that will purchase American equipment.