General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt acknowledged the rise of economic nationalism sweeping the globe, telling shareholders GE must “remain agile to move on our own.”
Immelt acknowledged in his letter to the shareholders what he characterized as a “strong trend toward economic nationalism,” and predicted that governments would “execute heavy influence over the economy with an even stronger focus on local job creation.”
The CEO of GE, number 11 on the Fortune 500 list, insisted that his company doesn’t need trade deals, because it has a “superior global footprint.” Immelt asserted that the U.S. government has hindered American companies for years. “We have never considered ourselves to be a ‘stateless multinational.’ We are a proud American company that is winning in every corner of the world,” the CEO said.
“Over the past generation, the U.S. has done very little to help our manufacturers or workers,” Immelt asserted, listing tax policy, subpar infrastructure and an explosion of regulations as factors that put American companies at a disadvantage on the global stage.
He differentiated between the outsourcing of jobs and globalization, explaining that GE’s globalization is “driven by a desire to access fast-growing global markets.” The CEO argued that increased exportation of its goods and services can be beneficial to its American workforce.
One area the CEO and the president disagree is on trade. Immelt wrote that GE’s preference is for “multilateralism and free trade.” President Donald Trump blasted current multilateral trade agreements as “big quagmire deals that are a disaster.”
The president has labeled himself a “total nationalist,” unapologetic of his America first mantra.
“There is one allegiance that unites us all, and that is to America. No matter our background, or income, or geography, we are all citizens of this blessed land. No matter our color, the blood we bleed is the same red blood of great, great patriots,” the president said during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday. (RELATED: The GOP Will Be The Party Of The American Worker)
“I want great trade,” the president said today during a meeting with the country’s governors. “The word ‘free; is very deceiving because it’s good for them, it’s not good for us. I want fair trade,” Trump said.
The president added, “if we’re going to be taxed, they should be taxed at the same amount, the other countries,” in a signal that he may be preparing to tax incoming goods as he promised throughout his campaign.
Immelt asserted that General Electric can be loyal to both their global teams and their country because “American values endure.” The CEO argued that American business needs to invest more, saying that capital investment has declined substantially in recent years.
“Industrial Internet and additive manufacturing are two emerging technologies that create new entitlements for productivity,” Immelt asserted. “GE has the most to gain by building the Industrial Internet and additive manufacturing and the most to lose by giving it to others.”
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