General Electric Co said on Monday it will move production of large, gas-powered engines to Canada from Waukesha, Wisconsin, along with 350 jobs, to access export financing no longer available in the United States.
In its latest salvo aimed at persuading Congress to renew the U.S. Export-Import Bank's charter which expired in June, GE will invest $265 million in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing plant at a Canadian location yet to be determined.
The facility, to open in about 20 months, can be expanded to provide flexible manufacturing capacity to support other GE businesses, including engines for railroad locomotives, GE said.
In exchange for the new plant and the 350 jobs, Export Development Canada will provide financing support for a range of future products, including some still made in the United States.
These are expected to come from GE's Water & Power, Oil & Gas and Transportation units, a GE spokeswoman said.
Shares of GE were down 1.5 percent at $24.53 in midday trading.
At the 106-year-old Waukesha plant, GE builds piston engines for power and oilfield use that run on natural gas or methane from landfills. But few projects involving these engines currently use EXIM financing, so the move is more aimed at finding government export credit for other businesses, the GE spokeswoman said.
GE's plan to end manufacturing at the plant stands in sharp contrast to a 2014 visit to the site by President Barack Obama, in which he touted its worker training program as "a model for the country."
In recent weeks, GE has announced several deals to move thousands of jobs out of the United States following EXIM's closure and to access government export credit from the United Kingdom, France, Hungary and China.
GE Vice Chairman John Rice told Reuters that foreign export credit agencies are "rolling out the red carpet" for the industrial conglomerate, expanding its export finance capacity compared to EXIM.
"I think we're satisfied that we have positioned ourselves to compete successfully in a post-EXIM world," Rice said in a telephone interview from Hong Kong.
He said he was concerned about the resignation of House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, a longtime EXIM supporter who will leave Congress at the end of October.
Boehner's likely successor, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, has sided with hard-line conservatives in opposing the renewal of EXIM's charter, which expired on June 30.
"Obviously with the Boehner resignation, we lose one important person there, so I don't think it makes it any easier," Rice said.
(By David Lawder; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Bernadette Baum)
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