General Electric plans move 500 American jobs overseas, the company announced Tuesday, citing the expiration of the U.S. Export-Import Bank earlier this summer. GE says the jobs will be moving to France, Hungary and China. France will take 400 of them, and China and Hungary will split the remaining 100. Texas, South Carolina, Maine, and New York will all see job losses.
The Ex-Im Bank helps U.S. companies finance the sale of their products overseas. It is supported by President Barack Obama, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and mainstream factions in both parties. But it faces opposition from some conservative Republicans and tea party groups. As a result, Congress failed to reauthorize it, sparking widespread frustration among American corporations that are active overseas.
"In a competitive world, we are left with no choice but to invest in non-U.S. manufacturing and move production to countries that support high-tech exports,” GE Vice Chairman John Rice said in a statement. "We call on Congress to promptly reauthorize Ex-Im."
The huge Connecticut-based company, a component of both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500, says it is currently bidding on $11 billion in projects that require export financing. In the absence of U.S. support, it announced that it had reached an agreement with a French export credit agency to provide a line of credit for global power projects.
As it has expanded its footprint abroad, GE has shed 16,000 jobs in the United States since 2008. (However, some of those losses are inflated by the company's sale of NBC to Comcast in 2009.) Earlier this year, the company announced it was planning to sell off its financial-services arm, GE Capital, and get back to its industrial roots.
In June, the company said it was considering relocating its headquarters from Fairfield, Connecticut, in response to a tax hike passed by the state Legislature. CEO Jeff Immelt told CNBC that the company would make a decision by the end of the year.