Caterpillar’s Jim Owens on Globalization: Lou, Are You Listening….?

By March 24, 2006Dobbs Watch

By all accounts, those who were in attendance at National Manufacturing Week outside Chicago this week said Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens hit it out of the park in his speech on Wednesday. We weren’t there, but we have a copy of the speech for you. It makes a great read for anyone interested in manufacturing or in the issue of globalization. Somebody oughta send it up to Lou, not that he’d read it, or that it would make sense to him.

Some excerpts:

On becoming a net exporter and on growing Cat’s presence near their international customers:

“You know Caterpillar as one of America’s major manufacturers. Over the years, we’ve leveraged our U.S. manufacturing base to become a leading net exporter and major contributor to the health and strength of the U.S economy. Last year alone we exported more than $9 billion in products from the United States.
At the same time, we’ve also become a major British manufacturer, a major Brazilian manufacturer, and a major Chinese manufacturer — just to name a few of the 40 countries in which we have a presence.”

A la Tom Friedman’s observation on globalization and India, Owens’ thought on the effect on US employment of their global presence:

“In fact, wherever Caterpillar invests, we find that our U.S. exports to these countries increase as well. Take China, for example. Over the last few years, we have more than doubled our Chinese workforce and significantly expanded our sales there. At the same time, we have increased our U.S. exports to China by 40 percent — helping to create some 5,000 new production jobs here in the United States.”

On the dangers of the protectionist mindset:

“I can think of no faster path to a worldwide recession than for the twin engines of the global economy — the United States and China — to turn against one another. And if some misguided piece of legislation like the Schumer bill gets through Congress, the chances of that happening are high…But in our global economy, engagement has a far better track record than unilateral sanctions.”

Here’s the link to the full speech. As we said, a must-read if you care about manufacturing and the issues we all face. Along the way,. Owens also talked bout the real issues we face, like taxes, energy costs, regulatory costs and workforce issues. But on globalization, he’s got it dead-on right. Don’t expect to see him on the Lou Dobbs show any time soon….