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GE CEO Threatens To Outsource If US Ends Export Subsidies

General Electric will switch from exporting goods to exporting jobs if Congress does not reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, CEO Jeffrey Immelt warns.

During a speech in Washington Wednesday, Immelt claimed Ex-Im financing is critical to GE’s ability to manufacture in America, and the company would have no choice but to relocate its production facilities if Congress allows the bank’s charter to expire June 30, The Financial Times reports.

GE is America’s largest manufacturer and second-biggest exporter, employing about 136,000 workers in the U.S., some of whom participated in a company-organized rally supporting Ex-Im earlier this week in North Carolina. (RELATED: GE Enlists Workers to Make Case for Ex-Im)

GE is also a major beneficiary of Ex-Im financing. Between 2007 and 2014, GE received $8.3 billion from Ex-Im, which is second only to Boeing’s share and represents 4.4 percent of the bank’s total authorizations over that period, according to research by Mercatus Center fellow Veronique de Rugy.

Without Ex-Im, “[GE] would build these products in places where export credit financing is available because we have to,” Immelt explained. “What happens then? Good jobs in the US will become good jobs in Canada and Europe.”

Immelt argued that exporting nations such as Germany and China are cheering on Ex-Im’s demise, believing it would “clear the field” of U.S. competition. “They can point on a map to all the projects and deals that American companies won’t have a shot at,” he said.

Ex-Im opponents, however, dispute Immelt’s contentions, citing the company’s own financial statements as evidence that he is exaggerating Ex-Im’s importance to the company. (RELATED: Aircraft Manufacturers Say Falling Sales Show Need for Ex-Im)

Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham, for instance, points out in an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer that while international sales are a major source of revenue for GE’s aircraft manufacturing business, “just one-third of one percent (0.33 percent) of GE Aviation’s 2014 revenue was ‘supported’ by Ex-Im subsidies.”

Moreover, in its annual financial disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission, GE Aviation—which has been at the forefront of the corporation’s lobbying efforts—neglected to include the potential closure of Ex-Im among the “serious risks” that it must disclose to investors. (RELATED: Rep. Flores: Ex-Im is a ‘Modern Day Enron’)

“At some point Mr. Immelt needs to square his public comments with his company’s federal financial disclosure forms,” Heritage Action communications director Dan Holler told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Is he misleading lawmakers? Or did he mislead investors?” Holler ruminated. “Neither is acceptable. And it all distracts from GE’s amazing technology and the real barriers to competitiveness.”

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