GE CEO Immelt's advice to Trump: 'We have to engage globally'

GE CEO Immelt: Believe in trade deals, but don't need them

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt told CNBC on Tuesday he hopes President-elect Donald Trump will have a "forward-looking view" of the world, and that it's reflected in his policies.

Immelt said policies that result in tax reform and improvements in infrastructure could help GE be more productive domestically, but growing internationally through exports is also key to his company's growth.

"I believe in trade deals, but we don't need trade deals in GE," Immelt said on "Squawk Alley." "We're a global company, we sell in 190 countries around the world, we do it from a local standpoint — we're going to keep globalizing."

He emphasized that the world has changed drastically since he took the helm of GE in 2001. The roles of China, the European Union and the Middle East have all evolved, he said, adding that he hopes Trump takes a "forward-looking view and not a backward-looking view in terms of the way he looks at the world."

Immelt reinforced the idea that the U.S. needs to compete in global markets to continue growing.

"We're 5 percent of the world's population, 25 percent of the world's GDP," he said. "This country has to win globally, we have to engage globally, it's the only way we can sustain our standard living."

Immelt said GE is well positioned for the future, adding that he "can never own enough GE stock." Shares of the industrial company were down slightly Tuesday, but up more than 2 percent this quarter, although they're down this year.

Immelt also spoke about his relationship with the president-elect when GE owned NBC and Trump was appearing on "The Apprentice" reality show.

"This is a guy that's a competitor, he wants to win," Immelt said. "And I always found him in one-on-one sessions to be a listener and a guy that wanted to do good work."

Regarding Trump's recent appointments to his administration, Immelt said his core belief of respect for everyone around the world will never change, regardless of whom the president-elect chooses.

"We [at GE] believe in diversity, we have many Muslims that work for the company, we have many Mexicans that work for the company, we have many great Americans that work for the company," he said. "We believe that every person around the world deserves to be treated with respect."