Doug Oberhelman Archives - Shopfloor

The U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement: Opportunity Awaits

By | Trade | No Comments

Panama is already a great market for U.S. manufacturers and exports, and the expansion of the Panama Canal, the huge subway project in Panama City, and the development of the world’s fifth largest copper mine represent even more opportunity, the CEO of Caterpillar testified Wednesday.

Taking advantage will require President Obama to submit the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement to Congress for its enactment.

Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar’s CEO and vice chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers, testified Wednesday at a House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee hearing on the benefits of the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement. (Prepared statement)

Manufactured goods and agriculture consistently report trade surpluses, Oberhelman reminded the committee. (See graphic below.) The growth of U.S. exports has been especially strong in the Latin American countries with which the United States has free trade agreements. Lowering Panama’s tariffs against U.S. goods would help expand market share for American companies. Oberhelman:

U.S. export success in Panama comes despite a fundamental imbalance in the proverbial playing field. The United States unilaterally opened its market to Panama and its neighbors through the Caribbean Basin Initiative in 1983 and expanded that access through successive acts with the support of strong bipartisan majorities in Congress. Currently, under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), fully 96% of all imports from Panama already enter the U.S. market duty-free. By contrast, Panama’s average applied duty on imports of manufactured goods is 7.1%, and agricultural products face even higher tariffs. In other words, Panama enjoys virtually free access to our marketplace, while U.S. products continue to be taxed at steep rates when entering Panama. Read More

America Must Compete; We Can’t Tax Our Way Out of Recession

By | Taxation, Trade | No Comments

Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman was in the news Thursday thanks to an excellent third quarter financial report, which announced a quarterly profit of $792 million, 96 percent higher than the same three-month period in 2009.

Neil Cavuto interviewed Oberhelman on Fox News (video here), asking important questions about China, competitiveness, and the political climate. Oberhelman observed that Caterpillar was a net exporter to China.

We’ve hired year to date, 15,000 people worldwide. About 45 percent, almost half of those are here in America, good manufacturing jobs, good office jobs. It’s great to do it. I’m happy to do it. I love those kind of announcements.

For some reason in this country, the debate has changed from hiring in America to, if …any American company hires one person outside the United States, it’s a bad thing.

In fact, when we hire people in Belgium, or in China, Australia, wherever it is, likely there’s somebody back here in America supporting that job in some form or fashion. Those are markets we have to penetrate. Our competition will get them if we don’t. Then what we do we do with our workers, when we say, we don’t have an export, thus we don’t have a job, then what do we do? We have to learn to deal with this.

And on tax policy, Oberhelman said:

What I worry about is gridlock going into January 1 and tax rates going up for all of us. The last thing we need is a huge tax increase on this economy in this country. I have never seen a recession – and we’ve studied them all the way back – where you tax yourself out of recession. And if that happens, our risk of going big-time slow down next year is much greater…

Oberhelman was elected vice chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Manufacturers at the NAM’s board meeting earlier this month. He takes office for a two-year term in January.