Caterpillar CEO Oberhelman Says U.S., China ‘Need Each Other’

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said the U.S. and China “need each other” as the global economy slows.

Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, sees China as a “huge opportunity” as its population grows and rapidly moves into the middle class, Oberhelman said today at an Economic Club of Chicago event.

Oberhelman, who supports former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the U.S. presidential election, said he worries about the current political debate regarding trade with China and other countries and Caterpillar needs open foreign markets.

The Peoria, Illinois-based company, which is a net exporter to the Asian country from the U.S., is working to be the market leader in China by 2015. Almost two-thirds of its 2011 sales came from outside North America.

“China and the U.S. need each other desperately,” Oberhelman said.

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