Another difficult region for Caterpillar has been China, where the firm has struggled to achieve a significant foothold. But Oberhelman said China's slowing growth last year - at 7.8 percent - actually provided a boost for the company.
"The reason we haven't made greater inroads [in China] is because the level of growth has been so fast that no company can keep up. In the past few years with the slowdown we have done a lot better, our market share is up. As the economy goes from double digit growth to 7, 8 or 9 percent, we are very happy to see that because it helps with consolidation and the construction industry here is starting to look a lot like others around the world," he said.
At a recent meeting with China's new leaders, who took over in the middle of March, Oberhelman said he talked about the need to create a more level playing field for foreign companies in China.
(Read More: A Push for Change in China as New Leaders Take the Helm)
"They recognize that. They have a lot of state-owned entities that are doing very well, they need to develop the small and medium enterprises in a bigger way which is where a lot of the entrepreneurialism and innovation is. I think they understand that," he said.
Oberhelman added that tensions between China and the U.S. over accusations of cyber-hacking provided one of the largest barriers to international trade and relations between the two economies.
(Read More: It's Absurd Only China Gets Caught for Hacking: Expert)
"We are hacked every day some of it is innocent some of it is not... We really need policy to help trade between us and soothe relations," he added.