GE agrees deal with China's Huawei to improve productivity

Huawei logo Image copyright AFP

US manufacturing giant General Electric has agreed a deal with Chinese technology and smartphone giant Huawei to help it improve production.

GE hopes that by connecting all areas within a production process via the internet it can improve productivity, lower costs and reduce emissions.

It predicts that the improvements will help it to save $500m (£381m) this year.

Both sides see the concept as a key step towards "smart manufacturing."

Shenzhen-based Huawei is one of the world's biggest smartphone vendors behind Apple and Samsung.

Huawei's executive board director, William Xu, said he was "very pleased" with the deal.

"The next ten years are an important period for the traditional economy to move to a digital economy... Companies can not cope with all the challenges alone," he added.

The move came as GE said that it still saw plenty of opportunities in China, despite the country's slowing growth.

"Yes the economy is growing at a slower growth rate... (but) it's the the world's second-largest economy so there's plenty of opportunity," said GE vice chairman John Rice, speaking in Shanghai.

China's economy grew at an annual rate of 6.7% in the first quarter of the year, its slowest quarterly growth for seven years.

Sterling boost

Mr Rice also said the fall in sterling following the outcome of the EU referendum vote would boost the company's exports.

The US-based multinational firm is a huge conglomerate, whose business interests include everything from manufacturing jet engines, to providing firms with finance, developing software, and making consumer goods such as dishwashers and coffee-makers.

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