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GE's Immelt says Ex-Im bank closure would hurt US-Africa trade: FT

(Reuters) - Trade ties between the United States and Africa will be hit if the U.S. Congress decides to close the Export-Import bank, the Financial Times reported General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeff Immelt as saying.

The Ex-Im Bank provides loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to help private companies export goods overseas. Its biggest beneficiaries are companies such as Boeing and Caterpillar , but smaller exporters also receive financing.

Ex-Im will be forced to close if Congress does not renew its charter by Sept. 30.

Immelt said the bank was crucial for U.S. companies operating in Africa because it showed the government was prepared to have "some skin in the game", the FT reported. (http://on.ft.com/WVN5SO)

The closure will mean that "we are basically making a statement as a country that we do not think that exports are important," Immelt said.

On Monday, GE said it would invest $2 billion in Africa by 2018.

(Reporting by Ankush Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jenningss)

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