Obama showcases GE’s Samalkot deal to say he’s creating jobs

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Showcasing a new General Electric Co (GE) deal with India, US President Barack Obama has called for a new effort to put the economy into job-creation “overdrive” by boosting American exports.

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“For America to compete around the world, we need to export more goods around the world. That’s where the customers are. It’s that simple,” Obama said visiting the birthplace of GE founded by inventor Thomas Edison at Schenectady, New York. The Schenectady plant now makes power-generating turbines that the company markets globally, including a recent sale in India.

“We’re going back to Thomas Edison’s principles…. We’re going to build stuff and invent stuff,” said Obama as he named General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to head an advisory panel on job creation. The panel will be called the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a successor to the Economic Recovery Advisory Board that was chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

“The economy is in a different place” than two years ago, Obama told workers at Schenectady. But, though the economy is again growing after a deep recession, the president acknowledged that “it’s not growing fast enough yet.”

Obama held up exports as a core goal, arguing that for a decade the US economy has relied too heavily on debt-financed consumption by its own citizens.

“As I was walking through the plant, you guys had put up some handy signs so I knew what I was looking at. And I noticed on all of them they said, this is going to Kuwait; this is going to India; this is going to Saudi Arabia.”

“That’s where the customers are, and we want to sell them products made here in America,” Obama said.

“That’s why I travelled to India a few months ago – and Jeff was there with us – where our businesses were able to reach agreement to export $10 billion in goods and services to India. And that’s going to lead to another 50,000 jobs here in the United States.

“Part of the reason I wanted to come to this plant is because this plant is what that trip was all about. As part of the deal we struck in India, GE is going sell advanced turbines – the ones you guys make – to generate power at a plant in Samalkot, India, Samalkot, India.

“Most of you hadn’t heard of Samalkot, but now you need to know about it, because you’re going to be selling to Samalkot, India,” Obama said mentioning the small Andhra Pradesh pilgrim town, 165 km west of Visakhapatnam, at least four times.

“And that new business halfway around the world is going to help support more than 1,200 manufacturing jobs and more than 400 engineering jobs right here in this community-because of that sale,” he said amid repeated applause.

Obama said US firms are “on track” to achieve his goal of doubling exports in a five-year period.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])