Executives at Caterpillar's predecessor company began building a global business a century ago, Caterpillar Chairman Jim Owens said. That insight has allowed Caterpillar to grow into an international company. However, Owens noted that more free trade agreements are needed for the company to maintain its strong position in international markets. The duty on a Caterpillar machine can run as high as $200,000 in a country that does not have a trade agreement with the U.S., he said.

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