Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Business Roundtable, the association of major U.S. companies’ chief executives, today named John Engler, head of the National Association of Manufacturers, as its new president.
Engler, who will take over the Washington-based organization next month, said his priority would be to spur economic growth. The U.S. unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in November.
He praised the pending U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement and President Barack Obama’s proposal to ease export controls on certain technology that could be used for military purposes, as well as the recent $858 billion tax-cut legislation. Obama and several corporate executives met earlier this month to discuss how to improve the economy.
“That’s everybody’s job one, to get America back to work,” Engler said in a conference call with reporters.
NAM announced today that its executive vice president, Jay Timmons, would succeed Engler. Timmons worked on Capitol Hill for Republican lawmakers and was executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
A former Michigan governor, Engler, 62, is the third Republican hired to lead a major association since the party captured control of the House and reduced the Democratic Senate majority in November’s elections.
Last month, the Washington-based Air Transport Association, the trade group for U.S. airlines such as United Continental Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc., chose Nicholas Calio, a former aide to President George W. Bush, as its president. Calio had been Citigroup Inc.’s chief lobbyist.
Engler succeeds John Castellani, who became president of the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America in September. The Washington-based trade group, known as PhRMA, represents drug companies such as Amgen Inc. and Pfizer Inc.
Engler said U.S. companies need to compete worldwide with China, India and other countries.
“We face globally the most intense competitive environment we’ve ever faced,” Engler said. “Our idea of competition is that we’ve got to go out and win.”
Business Roundtable chairman Ivan Seidenberg, the chief executive of Verizon Communications Inc., said Engler had worked closely with the group while at NAM.
“His leadership skills, policy expertise and broad background in both the public and private sectors uniquely qualify him” to be the group’s new president, Seidenberg said in a statement.
Other Business Roundtable members include the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Xerox Corp.
Engler was elected governor of Michigan in 1990 after 20 years in the state legislature and served three terms. He became NAM president in 2004.
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