May 26, 2009 / 9:37 AM / 11 years ago

GE's Immelt says to get harder to achieve growth

Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and cheif executive of General Electric Co, announces a partnership in healthcare technologies with Intel corp during a news conference in New York in this April 2, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

TOKYO (Reuters) - General Electric Co’s growth will be “harder to come by” in coming years given the prospect the global economy may grow at a slower pace once it emerges from recession, the company’s chief executive said.

Jeff Immelt said he would look to shift more of GE’s resources to China and other emerging markets set to play a larger role in driving economic growth as tighter credit forces the U.S. consumer to rein in spending.

“The basic engine of global growth for a long period of time — maybe 25 years — has been the U.S. consumer,” Immelt said in a speech to clients, business partners and media in Tokyo. “The U.S. consumer is finally going to have to save.”

The global economy could settle at a slower growth rate once the recession runs its course, making it more difficult for the world’s largest maker of jet engines and electricity-producing turbines to expand its business, Immelt said.

“As consumers around the world get more conservative, we think that overall economic growth — not just for a year or two but even post the recession — overall economic growth may be slower,” Immelt said.

“Our focus on research and development, our focus on globalization, our focus on customer service and customers has to be increased... in an even more substantial way because growth will be harder to come by and we are going to have to work harder to get it.”

Reporting by Nathan Layne and Mayumi Negishi

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