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Caterpillar's China Head Criticizes U.S. Policy

By Mark Dreyer
May 4, 2012
China News

(Beijing) – An often-reported conversation between former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and U.S. President Barack Obama relates how the leader of the free world asked the leader of the world's biggest company what it would take to bring the jobs involved in Apple's manufacturing process back to U.S. soil. The reply was simply: "Those jobs aren't coming back."

Kevin Thieneman, president of Caterpillar's Asian operations, said the call for U.S. companies to bring manufacturing back home is missing the fundamental point that the United States needed to focus instead on being competitive in four areas: infrastructure, power, skilled labor and tax policy. He said tax policy has not been reformed for several decades and is no longer globally competitive.

Caterpillar's presence in China, he argued, aimed – like many multinationals – to serve the China market, not U.S. interests.

"We run a net trade surplus U.S. to China. So as our business grows here, it creates jobs in the United States," he said. "But people don't believe it, don't understand it, and they try to demonize [it]."

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