WASHINGTON (Mar. 20)
Acting under Presidential authority, the U.S. Export-Import Bank will sign two agreements with the Soviet Union tomorrow and another on Friday giving credits totaling approximately $202 million at an annual interest rate of six percent, to be paid in 7-10 years. Major U.S. banks are now charging a prime rate of 6 3/4 percent which is the minimum interest charge on short term loans to the largest and most credit-worthy American corporations. The World Bank charges 7 1/3 percent.
Questioned by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Miss Rosemary Mezon, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Export-Import Bank, said that the bank is not a commercial lending agency and is “not concerned” with private bank rates, although U.S. banks are those which are providing the Soviet government with the credits to buy American goods and equipment. The spokeswoman said that the Export-Import Bank has been charging six percent for the past ten years to give private American banks “a competitive mix” in the foreign markets.
Congressional sources told the JTA that the Jackson amendment, when adopted, will definitely affect Export-Import Bank operations. The amendment and its companion Mills-Vanik measure in the House have not been voted upon pending the submission to Congress by the White House of the Soviet-American Trade Agreement signed last Oct. Congress must ratify the agreement that provides tariff benefits and credits to the Soviet Union.
TRYING TO GET MANY DEALS
“The Administration is trying to get in as many deals with the Soviet Union as possible before Congress acts on the trade agreement,” said an aide to Senator Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash.). The signing of the Export-Import Bank agreements scheduled for two weeks ago, was postponed for completion of legal details, according to bank spokesmen.
President Nixon authorized the Export-Import Bank to arrange credits for the Soviet Union last Oct. at the time of the signing of the Bilateral Trade Pact. These are the first such credits granted the Soviet Union since the Export-Import Bank was founded 39 years ago.
The bank, an independent U.S. agency, is forbidden by its charter to negotiate trade arrangements with a communist nation or a nation that lends aid to a communist nation unless the President proclaims it to be in the national interest. Walter C. Sauer, first vice-president, will sign the agreements for the Export-Import Bank and Viktor Alhimov, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Trade will sign the agreements for the Soviet Union.