General Electric said Tuesday that it will move about 500 jobs outside the United States, most of them to France, blaming Congress for shutting the US Export-Import Bank.
The US industrial giant said it was currently bidding on $11 billion of projects that require export financing and that it had struck a financing deal with France's export credit agency COFACE for power projects in a number of international markets, including Indonesia, GE said.
That will result in the relocation of more than 400 jobs from the United States to GE's gas turbine plant in Belfort, France.
In addition, GE will move the final assembly of its aeroderivatives turbines from Texas to Hungary and China, entailing the transfer of 100 jobs. That decision was also driven by the need to qualify for access to export credit support, it said.
"We do not make today's announcements lightly, and in fact, have done everything in our power to avoid making these moves at all, but Congress left us no choice when it failed to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank this summer," said John Rice, GE vice chairman, in a statement.
"We know this will have an impact not only on our employees but on the hundreds of US suppliers we work with that cannot move their facilities, but we cannot walk away from our customers," Rice said.
The authorization for the 81-year-old Ex-Im bank expired on June 30 as Republican lawmakers who are pushing for a smaller government refused to fund it.
The Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE noted that the US was now the only major economy without an export bank.
"We call on Congress to promptly reauthorize Ex-Im," Rice said. "The truth is that Ex-Im supports thousands of US jobs and has returned $7 billion to the US Treasury over the last 20 years -- a rare government program that supports the economy while cutting the deficit."
In a letter to Congressional leaders on Monday, the Business Roundtable, an association of corporate chief executives, urged passage of a multi-year reauthorization "as soon as possible".
"Since its authority lapsed in July, Congress's failure to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank has already resulted in US companies losing international sales and puts hundreds of thousands of US jobs at risk," they said.