Jul 09, 2015

General Electric Wasn’t Always Threatening to Move to Canada and Europe Without the Ex-Im Bank

Post by Freedom Partners

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, one of the Export-Import Bank’s biggest supporters, hasn’t been shy about using inflammatory rhetoric in order to scare Congress into reauthorizing the bank. He characterized a post-Ex-Im world as an economic catastrophe and threatened to ship American jobs overseas if the bank wasn’t reauthorized.

But that’s not what he said five years ago. During the Ex-Im Bank’s Annual Conference in 2010—when the probability of expiration was low and the bank’s supporters could talk more freely—Immelt candidly acknowledged to Chairman Fred Hochberg that GE was so large that it could “never use [a lack of government support] as an excuse” for not doing business somewhere.

Despite Immelt’s warnings, the Ex-Im Bank did expire on June 30 and the economy remains intact.

General Electric Wasn’t Always Threatening To Move To Canada And Europe Without The Ex-Im Bank

SHOT: “GE Chief Says He’d Move Jobs If Ex-Im Isn’t Reauthorized.” “Immelt raised the stakes on Wednesday, saying GE would move U.S. jobs to Canada or Europe rather than lose business for a lack of export financing. Immelt said at The Economic Club in Washington, DC, that 27 countries require companies to offer financing such as that provided by the Export-Import Bank ‘just to bid on a large infrastructure project.’ If Congress fails to re-authorize the bank, GE would be ‘left to make choices of our own,’ Immelt said. ‘Because we’re not going to lose this business,’ he said. ‘We’ll build these products in places where export financing is available because we have to.’” (Rudolph Bell, “GE Chief Says He’d Move Jobs If Ex-Im Isn’t Re-Authorized,” Greenville News, 06/20/15)

CHASER: Immelt Told Chairman Hochberg At The Export-Import Bank’s 2010 Annual Conference That General Electric “Is Big Enough That We Can Never Use [A Lack Of Government Support] As An Excuse” For Not Being Able To Do Business Somewhere. HOCHBERG: “Are there places where because of that you have found it much harder to do business than it might otherwise have been because we don’t have the same kind of national interest that you see in Germany and you see in Italy. Many countries, the government takes a much more direct hand in promoting exports.” IMMELT: “You know Fred, our company is big enough that we can never use that as an excuse. You know, in other words, GE should never use as an excuse that we couldn’t go someplace because the government wasn’t there.” (“A Conversation: Powering Jobs Through Exports,” Export-Import Bank of the United States, 03/11/10)

IMMELT: “We Can Fight Our Own Way By And Large.” (“A Conversation: Powering Jobs Through Exports,” Export-Import Bank of the United States, 03/11/10)