On the following pages, we highlight our major growth platforms: healthcare, hydrogen, electronics, China and technology licensing. But, of course, there continued to be a tremendous amount of activity in our strong base business around the world. Demonstrating our strengths as a global supplier, we entered into a multi-year agreement with General Motors to supply of gases, technologies and services to 81 GM facilities in six countries in North and South America. We also gained business with The Boeing Company for the supply of propellants for the Delta IV launch vehicle.

Praxair Surface Technologies extended its production agreement with GE Aircraft Engines under which it will expand its production capacity of advanced coatings for gas turbine airfoils and add new in-house, platinum-aluminide coating capability. Praxair Europe signed 400 new contracts during the year in a variety of markets and our business in Brazil introduced new service offerings

Underpinning these and many other growth initiatives was an ongoing production excellence effort aimed at continuously improving the efficiency of plant and distribution operations. In addition, Six Sigma teams in all of our regional organizations tackled a wide range of projects, from pipeline efficiencies to invoice processing to technician retention. Now that the entire organization has a common focus, we expect that savings and improvements in customer service will accelerate in the coming years.