Pepsi Chief Says U.S. Needs Economic 'Blueprint'

CEO Indra Nooyi suggested taxing repatriated money at 15%, compared to the top corporate rate of 35% -- a move she described as 'a creative way to address unemployment without adding to the deficit.'

Divided U.S. lawmakers and officials must unite to forge a long-term economic "blueprint" that brings manufacturing jobs back to the world's largest economy, PepsiCo's chief executive Indra Nooyi said on April 17.

Nooyi, whom Fortune Magazine has listed as the most powerful businesswoman in the world for several years running, said President Barack Obama should tap top Democrats and Republicans as well as business leaders to draw up a multi-generational economic plan. "We need to start somewhere. I think the first step is, create a blueprint for the country," Nooyi told CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" in an interview that aired on April 17.

"I don't think worrying about the re-industrialization of America is a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It's the country's issue," she added.

"There is an extremely qualified cadre of recently retired CEOs and C-suite (top-level) executives who can all be co-opted to help author this blueprint for the future."

Obama's Democrats have been sparring with opposition Republicans over how much government spending to slash this fiscal year, as part of a broader budget war and debate over how to rein in a runaway deficit.

The president, Nooyi said, should "forge these coalitions" that would lay out an economic framework for the coming decades that would highlight energy efficiency.

"I don't know if they can do it with an election year coming up (in 2012), but I think people can put their differences aside and worry about the country."

She acknowledged that such a project would take years, but said there were several short-term measures that could revitalize job creation in America, including slashing taxes on U.S. subsidiaries that bring foreign profits back to the United States.

Some U.S. firms are "trapped in overseas countries, because the tax rate to bring them back is extremely high," Nooyi said.

She suggested taxing repatriated money at 15%, compared to the top corporate rate of 35% -- a move she described as "a creative way to address unemployment without adding to the deficit."

In a report this year, the Association for Financial Professionals estimated that U.S. firms had a total of $1 trillion in overseas cash and investments.

Should Washington lower the tax on repatriated profits, "the likely inflow of capital into the US would stimulate capital investment and hiring, contributing to economic recovery in the short run and economic growth in the long-term," according to the association.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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