United Technologies Corp. CEO Greg Hayes defended global trade and argued against "tearing up" the North American Free Trade Agreement last Monday during the Concordia Annual Summit in New York, a gathering of business executives, leaders of nonprofit groups and politicians.
Hayes acknowledged NAFTA is an imperfect compromise, but worth defending. "Tearing up and eliminating the basic framework of NAFTA would be wrong," he said. The agreement has created wealth in Mexico and helped spur job growth in the U.S. and Canada, he added.
UTC sales last year from outside the U.S., including U.S. export sales, accounted for more than 60% of its sales of about US$ 57 billion. Its overseas businesses include jet engines and aviation components for commercial airlines and military jets, elevators, and heating and cooling equipment in homes and commercial buildings.
Hayes said NAFTA and other trade agreements help create jobs in the U.S. by providing overseas markets for U.S. goods. "This is not a one-way street where jobs are just migrating out of the country," he pointed out.
"Obviously, it costs less to do business in Mexico from a direct labor standpoint. But frankly, we can't find workers to do many of those jobs that are at the lower end of the wage scale anyway. We'd rather have those people doing jobs that create intellectual property, adding to the economy and to the wealth of this country," he added.
Hayes said nearly 90% of job losses are due to increased productivity and automation, with only about 10 percent the result of global trade.