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UTC CEO: Isolationism Will Not Make America Great

Nov 3, 2016

The CEO of Farmington-based United Technologies has delivered a rebuke to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his stance on trade. 

Greg Hayes said the presidential campaign has at times demonstrated a "detachment from reality" on issues of globalization.

"The forces of globalization are real, and they are inescapable. The genie truly is out of the bottle, and it's not really open to debate," he told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "Developing an isolationist approach will not, I repeat not, create growth or jobs, nor will it make any country great. It will simply take us all backwards."

Hayes noted that global trade has tripled per-capita incomes around the world in the last 50 years. He also said that many job losses in manufacturing in the U.S. are due to increased productivity, and not off-shoring.

United Technologies' Carrier Air Conditioning business has come under fire from Trump on the campaign trail, after it announced it would ship work from Indiana to Mexico, affecting about 1,400 jobs.

Hayes described that as a tough decision. 

"Most of our competitors in the air conditioning business had already moved production to Mexico, and most of our supply chain had also moved to Mexico," he said. "The only way to be competitive in the marketplace was to reduce labor costs."

Hayes said he’s been lobbying Congress to allow a vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal during the lame duck session.

"If TPP fails, and our trading partners are left out there, they'll have no choice but to turn towards China," he said. "We need to think about TPP not just as a trading vessel, but also as a way of furthering our U.S. foreign policy in the area."

Both presidential candidates have been critical of TPP, a deal negotiated between 12 Pacific Rim nations.

In response to a question from the audience, Hayes said United Technologies is not making any particular contingency plans for the event of a Trump win, saying the company stands ready to work with either administration.