Caterpillar plant in Texas reminder of trade conflict stakes

SEGUIN, Texas (AP) — Dozens of half-built engines, more than twice the size of a car engine, stand in a row. They slowly roll ahead on a conveyor belt, stopping periodically as workers run quality checks, install fuel lines and tighten bolts with power wrenches.

The San Antonio Express-News reports these engines, ranging in size from nine to 18 liters, are used in generators, oil and gas operations and industrial applications. Nearly three out of four of them are heading out of the country to foreign markets.

The Caterpillar plant, its engines and the 2,000 people who work here are reminders of the stakes involved as the trade conflict between the United States, China and other countries escalates with new rounds of tariffs and retaliatory actions. Caterpillar is part of a broader heavy machinery and equipment manufacturing industry in Texas that employs about 90,000 people and shipped more than $40 billion in industrial machinery to international buyers last year, making it the state's second leading export after petroleum and accounting for 16 percent of all Texas exports.

"Many of our Texas member companies are multinational, they operate all over the world," said Tony Bennett, chief executive of the Texas Association of Manufacturers as he considered rising trade barriers. "We will not go unscathed."

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