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GE: 500 Jobs Could Move Overseas Amid Export-Import Bank Impasse

Without export financing available from the federal government, GE officials said the company was forced to pursue options from agencies abroad.

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General Electric could move 500 U.S. manufacturing jobs to France, Hungary and China after the expiration of the U.S. Export-Import Bank's charter earlier this summer.

Without export financing available from the federal government, GE officials said the company was forced to pursue options from agencies abroad.

An agreement with French export agency COFACE will provide a line of credit and shift production of heavy duty gas turbines — and 400 jobs — to Belfort, France. The jobs will primarily be moved from plants in Maine, New York, South Carolina and Texas.

Another 100 jobs, meanwhile, will move from Houston to Hungary and China after GE secured export credit for gas turbines used in aviation. GE will not close any U.S. plants due to the changes.

Company officials said that additional foreign financing agreements would be announced soon; GE said that it is currently bidding on $11 billion in international power projects that require export financing.

"If the Ex-Im Bank were open, it would be business as usual," GE Vice Chairman John Rice told Reuters. "If Ex-Im isn't going to happen, or it's going to be a regular fight to be reauthorized, we've got to make other plans."

The Ex-Im Bank, established more than 80 years ago, offers low-interest loans and loan guarantees to help finance foreign purchases of American-made goods.

Some Republicans in Congress, however, allege that the bank interferes with the free market.

Opponents successfully halted reauthorization of the bank before its charter expired on June 30, as well as an effort to include the bank in a must-pass highway bill in July. Further legislative efforts to revive the bank are expected this fall.

GE is one of three industrial giants, along with Boeing and Caterpillar, that receive the bulk of Ex-Im loans — another source of consternation for bank critics.

Supporters point to those companies' massive supply chains as well as the billions in economic activity supported at no cost to taxpayers.

Boeing recently announced hundreds of layoffs in its satellite division due to concerns about Ex-Im financing and speculated that some operations could move overseas.

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