GE to move U.S. jobs overseas in fight over export credits

Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:17pm EDT
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By David Lawder and Lewis Krauskopf

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Flexing its muscles amid a bitter congressional fight over the U.S. Export-Import Bank, General Electric Co (GE.N: Quote) on Tuesday revealed plans to shift up to 500 U.S. manufacturing jobs to Europe and China because it can no longer access EXIM financing.

The largest U.S. industrial conglomerate said it will move production of some heavy duty gas turbines and 400 jobs to Belfort, France, in exchange for a credit line from France's COFACE (COFA.PA: Quote) export agency. The deal will support GE bids for international power projects.

U.S. plants in Greenville, South Carolina; Schenectady, New York; and Bangor, Maine, will lose out on those jobs if GE wins the power bids, a GE spokeswoman said.

GE also said 100 additional final assembly jobs for smaller turbine generator sets derived from aircraft engines will move next year from outside of Houston to Hungary and China. No U.S. facility will close, a GE spokeswoman said.

The company is bidding on $11 billion worth of international power projects that require export credit agency financing, including some in Indonesia.

The announcement rang alarm bells on Capitol Hill as lawmakers, still ramping up from a long summer recess, searched for a strategy to revive the trade bank after letting its charter expire on June 30.

"This is what happens when Congress sits idly by while thousands of jobs are on the line," said Republican Representative Stephen Fincher, who has led efforts to revive EXIM in the House of Representatives.

The lack of clarity on whether EXIM will ever resume lending has companies scrambling to make alternative plans.   Continued...

A worker walks past a gas turbine under construction at the gas turbines production unit of the General Electric plant in Belfort, June 24, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler