U.S. Government Lends $105M to Brazil—to Build Aquarium

Terence P. Jeffrey | December 7, 2012 | 4:06pm EST
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An aquarium in Singapore (AP Photo/Wong Maye-e)

(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Export-Import Bank, an agency of the federal government, is lending $105 million to the Brazilian state of Ceara to help build an aquarium in its capital city of Fortaleza.

“An anticipated tourist attraction, the aquarium will boast four floors housing 25 large tanks containing approximately 15 million liters of water and showcasing 500 marine species and 35,000 individual specimens,” the Export-Import Bank said in a press release.

“The aquarium will also feature interactive exhibits, two 4D cinemas, one 3D cinema, and an educational platform dedicated to the research and preservation of aquatic life along the Brazilian coastal regions,” said the U.S.-government-controlled bank. “When completed, Acquario will rank as the largest aquarium in the Southern Hemisphere and the third largest in the world.”

The bank says the $105 million loan for the project will "finance the export of American good and services" for construction of the aquarium.

In May, President Barack Obama signed legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank through fiscal 2014, increasing its financing authority from $100 billion to $140 billion.

When the reauthorization legislation was debated in Congress, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) offered an amendment that would have terminated the bank by prohibiting it from engaging in new loans, loan guarantees or any other form of financing after May 31, 2013. After that date, the bank would have been permitted only to fulfill the obligations into which it had already entered. Lee’s amendment failed, however, and the Senate voted 78-20 to reauthorize the bank. The House had earlier voted 330-93 for reauthorization.

“We need to end the corporate welfare that distorts the market and feeds crony capitalism,” Lee said during Senate debate on the bank. “The corporations that largely benefit from the Ex-Im Bank should have no trouble marshaling their resources to compete in today's economy. If they are struggling, then they are most likely not deserving of taxpayer help; and if they are turning billions in profit, then they clearly do not need taxpayer-subsidized loans.”

“Having the government pick winners and losers does not make industries stronger, it makes them more dependent on subsidies,” said Lee. “When government is picking who wins, the loser is always the taxpayer.”

The Export-Import Bank approved the loan to Brazilian state of Ceara to build the aquarium in October.

"Ex-Im Bank's financing for this transaction will level the playing field for an American exporter in Brazil--one of the bank's nine key markets--and enable the company to confront foreign competition on an equal footing," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg, an Obama appointee. "As a result, the transaction will directly support hundreds of American small-business jobs in a specialized industry. The aquarium, which attests to the craftsmanship of American workers, will be a major tourist attraction in Brazil that will help support jobs here at home."

The bank said in its press release that Colorado-based International Concept Management would be designing and building the Brazilian aquarium.

In fiscal 2012, the bank said in October, it "earned for U.S. taxpayers $803.7 million above the cost of all operations."

"This year, Ex-Im helped support 255,000 quality jobs in communities across the country, all at no cost to the taxpayer," said Chairman Hochberg.

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