(New throughout, adds details and comments from GE executives)
By Dave Graham
MONTERREY, Mexico May 12 General Electric
on Friday praised Mexico as a big part of its future and
said the company is "very supportive" of the North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that U.S President Donald Trump has
threatened to ditch.
GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt said on a visit that
Mexico had great potential and was not properly understood. He
touted the conglomerate's Mexican operations and the trade deal
binding Mexico, Canada and the United States.
"GE as a company, we're very supportive of NAFTA," Immelt
told employees at an event to mark the expansion of operations
in the northern city of Monterrey. He said the trade accord
could be modernized, as Mexico has argued.
Immelt sits on a Trump-appointed manufacturing council that
Mexico has targeted for lobbying as Mexico and Canada push U.S.
business leaders to defend NAFTA.
The GE boss said trade meant "win-win" opportunities across
"We will continue to work constructively in the context of
wanting to see a close relationship between the U.S. and
Mexico," he said, noting that GE's exports to the rest of the
world from Mexico were worth $3 billion.
"We're optimistic about Mexico, we're optimistic about what
we can do here," Immelt added, saying Latin America's no. 2
economy would be a "big part" of GE's future.
Earlier this month, Immelt urged the Trump administration to
avoid protectionist policies, calling on it to level the playing
field for U.S. companies with tax reform, revived export
financing and improved trade agreements.
Trump touts a "Buy American" policy and has railed against
U.S. companies moving operations to Mexico. He has threatened to
ditch NAFTA, a lynchpin of the Mexican economy, if he cannot
rework it to secure better terms for the United States.
Unlike some U.S. companies, GE has not backed off plans in
Mexico, risking broadsides from Trump on Twitter.
Earlier, the Mexican presidency said in a statement that GE
had stated an interest in doubling purchases from Mexican
suppliers next year. Immelt did not mention this.
Vladimiro de la Mora, CEO for Mexico, said the figure came
from an announcement last year and did not mean GE aimed to
double purchases between this year and 2018.
On Thursday, GE said it had won a contract to provide plants
producing two new gigawatts of power in Mexico and secured a
separate $120 million, multi-year service deal.
De la Mora said GE could not yet reveal details of the 2 GW
deal, but it was "likely" the value of the total investment in
the power plants would exceed $500 million.
(Reporting by Dave Graham in Monterrey, Additional Reporting by
Mexico newsroom in Mexico City; editing by Grant McCool and