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Conversation from Davos: John Rice and John Negroponte

A dramatically growing, global middle class is becoming a “demand generator” for companies “because they want infrastructure, healthcare and good, stable electricity,” said John G. Rice, GE’s Vice Chairman and President and CEO of GE Global Growth Operations.

Rice’s comments came in a wide-ranging video conversation with former U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte last week during the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

During the conversation Negroponte talks about the Philippines, China and Mexico and how important each is to the U.S.  On China he notes the “almost miraculous accomplishment” of economic reform that has lifted “so many out of abject poverty… and it continues to happen by leaps and bounds.”

On the Philippines he talks about the country’s “special relationship” with the U.S. and how the country has “cleaned up their image of corruption” allowing trading partners to focus on booming economy growing at six to seven percent annual and a market of 100 million people.

And on Mexico Negroponte highlights NAFTA, which he had a big hand in helping to negotiate, and notes that “from an economic perspective” Mexico is even more special to the U.S. than the Philippines because they are such as huge trading partner of the U.S.  The success of NAFTA, he said, “is helping move us toward a North American economic platform with possibilities of competitive manufacturing and many other things.

Rice noted that people don’t understand the deep benefits to the U.S. of NAFTA “they see it as more of a threat than an opportunity,” he said, and “companies like ours have to have a sharper message” on the benefits of the trade agreement.

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