General Electric Co (GE) expects sales in China to double in the next four to five years, while its Chinese researchers should play a growing role creating products for global markets, chairman Jeff Immelt said yesterday.
Immelt also said he signed an agreement with the Chinese government to spend up to US$50 million in China over the next five years developing more environmentally friendly technologies.
GE's revenues in China last year totaled nearly US$5 billion, and "we think business could double again in the next four to five years," Immelt said at a news conference.
Immelt said GE is expanding a Shanghai research center that employs 2,000 Chinese engineers and is expected to produce new power generation, water filtration and other products.
"Not only do I view China as a market, but I also view it as a center of excellence in technology and manufacturing that can benefit all of our products around the world," he said.
Immelt has described China in the past as critical to Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE's future, supplying new markets and products but also creating potential competitors.
He said GE, which gets 35 percent of its revenues from railways and other "infrastructure industries," expects to benefit from China's heavy investments in coming years in new power plants, railways, airports and other public projects.
GE, which has nearly 13,000 employees in China, said that under its agreement with the Chinese Cabinet's National Development and Reform Commission, the two will "expand cooperation in the development of advanced experimental technologies" for sustainable economic growth.
GE said it also will provide management and leadership training for up to 2,500 Chinese managers and government officials over the next five years.
In addition, GE is to cooperate with Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China's top science schools, on research for less environmentally damaging products.
Immelt said details of that agreement were still being worked out but he expected it to focus on coal gasification and other energy-related fields.
The project is part of GE's "Ecomagination" initiative, an effort unveiled last year to boost sales of environmentally friendly technology such as pollution controls and wind power generators.
Immelt said GE expects to tap into strong growth in China for solar, wind and other renewable power sources. He said sales of wind power generation equipment are expected to reach US$300 to US$500 million a year in time.
"We think all of them have a fit in China and have the potential to be fast growth for a long period of time," he said.
GE says products already being sold in China with advanced environmental technologies include more fuel-efficient aircraft engines and railway locomotives.