The U.S. doesn’t compete for global markets on the same basis as China and Germany. Over the past generation, the U.S. has done very little to help our manufacturers or workers. Our tax policy favors imports, not exports. Our infrastructure is subpar. Our regulations have exploded. We remain the only major economy in the world without a functioning export bank. In almost every category, the U.S. stands apart with antiquated policies while our global competitors have embraced change. Meanwhile, other countries are on the move, doing trade deals and promoting growth. They are selling “government-to-government” to grow their competitive advantage. The world does not stand still. We are hopeful that the new administation will "level the playing field" for U.S. companies.
We have globalized in our own way. We know that outsourcing is different from globalization. Outsourcing is yesterday’s game. During the ’80s and ‘90s, business looked to the emerging markets as a cheap labor source. Some American jobs migrated to countries that welcomed U.S. companies with open arms. Some American workers lost in the game of wage arbitrage.
Today, our globalization is driven by a desire to access fast-growing global markets. We still see substantial opportunity to grow around the world by investing, operating, and building relationships in the countries where we do business. We’ve developed creative financing solutions and joint ventures that have given us a critical edge in economies where the opportunities for growth are immense. Being global and local gives us the ability to compete and win in 180 countries around the world. Because we are a real and regular presence in diverse markets, when we win globally, we benefit the U.S. as well.
This includes China. Every company and country needs a strategy to engage the second-biggest economy on earth. We continue to grow in China. GE competes by localizing capability, building partnerships, and creating a productive digital framework for the local market. We are a net exporter to China. We partner with Chinese construction companies and leverage their funding to win in Africa and Asia. Our investments have created jobs in China and the U.S., while making GE more competitive.
GE’s innovations solve some of the world’s toughest problems. We have long been a leader in clean energy innovation and providing affordable healthcare. GE’s locomotives can be found in South Africa, Brazil, and Indonesia. We have restored electricity to Iraq, Argentina, and Nigeria. Our jet engines power military aircraft that keep the world safe. You can only solve local problems where you have local capability. I would confidently state that GE has the finest global footprint of any company in the world.
At the same time, the benefits we bring to the communities where we operate are clear, especially to the roughly one million men and women we employ either directly or indirectly in the U.S. They count on us for high-quality jobs and for long-term investing at home and abroad to keep our company strong and growing. Leadership, now more than ever, is about embracing the new and bringing people with you. We act like a single company, a meritocracy that doesn’t discriminate or fear the future. The Americans in GE like their Brazilian and Chinese counterparts. Good global companies are diverse teams, who take care of each other when times are tough.
Are we witnessing the end of globalization? I don’t think so. It is the end of the “global elite,” those who see the world only from financial centers or a website. Most “Global Institutions” are 70 years old and must be modernized to address contemporary global challenges. Globalization is “gritty,” meant to be consumed at retail, from the ground. It is differentiated and intensely local. Investment and jobs matter everywhere. Globalization is fresh - it changes every day.