Caterpillar CEO Decries Protectionism

U.S. policymakers and manufacturers must embrace globalization and resist protectionist attitudes if the nation's manufacturing base is going thrive in the new economy, said Caterpillar Inc. Chairman and CEO Jim Owens March 22 during National Manufacturing Week.

Owens scolded attempts by policymakers to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, citing the Schumer-Graham bill, which would impose a 27.5% tax on Chinese imports, and other 'protectionist' bills that he says could throw the worldwide economy into a recession and block U.S. manufacturers from doing business in growing markets.

"If the United States adopts trade barriers then all U.S. manufacturers large and small will see access to these prospective customers restricted or at least will be impaired relative to our other international competition with this business," he said.

He noted that Caterpillar's workforce has grown by more than 20% in the last two years and that the company's stock price has more than tripled in the last five years, while increasing its exports to China by 40%. At the same time, Caterpillar exported more than $9 billion in products from the U.S. in 2005, he said.

Owens said the U.S. could further benefit from open trade relations if China revalues its currency and the U.S. encourages China's admission into the Group of Eight nations and helps move the country to market economy status before the World Trade Organization's 2016 deadline.

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