By Anthony Capkun
September 28, 2015 – Citing the lack of an export credit agency in the United States, GE Power & Water announced it plans to stop manufacturing gas engines in Waukesha, Wisc., and invest $265 million in Canada for a new ‘brilliant factory’ with manufacturing capacity for multiple business lines, including Power & Water, Oil & Gas, and Transportation.
The company will build its new facility in Canada to access additional support from the our export credit agency, Export Development Canada (EDC). GE says it is currently bidding on $11-billion of projects that require export financing, but while more than 60 other countries have export credit agencies (ECAs) that support domestic manufacturing for export, the U.S., apparently, does not.
“We believe in American manufacturing, but our customers in many cases require ECA financing for us to bid on projects. Without it, we cannot compete and our customers may be forced to select other providers,” said John Rice, GE vice-chair.
The authorization for the U.S. export credit agency—the Export-Import Bank, or ExIm—lapsed on July 1, reports the company. GE says that, for the last year, exporters and suppliers have called upon Congress to reauthorize the ExIm “to support manufacturing jobs and level the playing field” for American companies that compete globally, yet the U.S. remains “the only major economy in the world without an export bank”.
“We continue to urge Congress to reauthorize the ExIm Bank for all American companies,” Rice continued. “However, we must prepare for the worst case and arrange export finance outside the U.S. Unfortunately, this will come at the expense of American jobs. In a slow-growth and volatile world, we must go where the markets are and compete in over 170 countries.”
GE currently employs 350 at its manufacturing facility in Waukesha, building gas engines for compression, mechanical drive and power generation applications. The company notified its Waukesha employees and more than 400 U.S. suppliers of its plans.
“We know these announcements will have regrettable impact not only on our employees but on the hundreds of U.S. suppliers we work with that cannot move their facilities, but we cannot walk away from our customers,” said Rice.
The Canadian factory (location not announced at this time) is expected to be completed in 20 months and will be a flexible production facility that can expand over time and also support manufacturing requirements for other GE businesses.