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GE boss calls for industrial renewal

THE United States should aim to have manufacturing jobs make up at least 20 percent of total employment, about twice what the current level, General Electric Co Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said last Friday.

Speaking to the Economic Club of Detroit, Immelt outlined what he called an American industrial renewal driven by an emphasis on manufacturing and exports, investment in new technology and research and development, innovations in clean energy and affordable health care.

The US has faltered as it has moved toward a service and consumption-based economy, Immelt said.

He singled out financial services, which he said comprise 45 percent of earnings of companies on the Standard & Poor's 500 index, up from 10 percent a quarter-century earlier.

American manufacturing can be reinvigorated through investment in research and development, infrastructure and training, and by fostering public-private partnerships, Immelt said.

There is nothing "predestined or inevitable about the industrial decline of the US, if we as a people are prepared to reverse it," he said.

"We would do much better to observe the example of China. They've been growing fast because they invest in technology and they make things. They have no intention of letting up in manufacturing in order to evolve into a service economy.

"They know where the money is and they aim to get there first," Immelt said. "America has to get back in that game."

Earlier that day, Immelt announced GE is developing a US$100 million research and development facility 40 kilometers west of Detroit.


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