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Opinion Editorial - POLITICO - "United States is open for business"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Commercee Secretary Penny Pritzker and Secretary of State John Kerry
Opinion Editorial, POLITICO
"United States is open for business"

Companies all over the world are choosing to invest in America. Don’t take our word for it. Just look at the latest headlines: Novelis, a subsidiary of an Indian company, is creating 100 manufacturing jobs with a $200 million expansion at its Oswego, N.Y., aluminum plant. German company Siemens is expanding its facility in Crittenden County, Ky., creating 50 new jobs. Singapore’s Flextronics International is planning to hire 1,700 workers in Austin, Texas, to build a next-generation computer. South African company Sasol recently announced a $16 billion to $21 billion investment, which will create more than 7,000 jobs in Louisiana.

The departments we lead work closely together to expand foreign investment in the United States, along with opportunities for American businesses overseas. Our promotion of inward investment took center stage in Washington last week at the first-ever SelectUSA Investment Summit.

For years, we’ve drawn more foreign investment to our shores than any other country. Our goal is to accelerate a growing trend that already supports 5.6 million American jobs and contributes $736 billion in value to the U.S. economy. The reasons are clear: We have a skilled and educated workforce, abundant and affordable energy, sound and stable financial markets, a transparent legal system and excellent intellectual property protection. 

While we guard and protect those areas in which national security is concerned, make no mistake: Foreign investment into America is a vote of confidence that helps secure our future. It creates jobs and grows our economy.

And we have infrastructure in place to help sustain that investment over the long term. We have free-trade agreements with 20 countries that offer U.S. firms unprecedented global access and foreign firms similar access to our markets. From our newest agreements with countries like South Korea — the world’s 12th-largest economy — to our long-standing free-trade partnerships with Mexico and Canada through the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States has demonstrated a strong commitment to doing business with our global partners. These agreements encourage two-way foreign investment, contributing to a shared vision of prosperity and the creation of good-paying jobs on all sides.

But our work is far from over. As the rest of the world becomes more competitive, we need to make our case for why the United States is still open for business. Thirty years ago, the United States had a larger share of the Foreign Direct Investment pool, accounting for nearly half of all global FDI flows. Now, we hold closer to 15 percent of the same pool.

The United States has never before had a federal-level focus on attracting job-creating foreign investment. We’ve historically left our states and cities to compete with foreign countries. Despite strong state and local efforts, the federal government can do more in support of our states and cities.

Last week, President Barack Obama announced a plan to build on our initial success and put in place the first-ever, coordinated effort across the federal government to bring jobs and investment from around the world to the United States by expanding and enhancing SelectUSA. The president’s plan will make attracting job-creating investment a top priority, call for a globally coordinated effort with active teams initially in 32 economies, create the first-ever advocacy process in which administration officials including the president will advocate for businesses to help states and cities compete with other countries, provide a single point of contact for prospective investors so they know where to begin in navigating our large and complex economy, and support our partner economic development organizations around the country compete for job-creating foreign investment.

Of course, jobs and investment are not the whole story. The good work of the State and Commerce Departments is also measured in the value of our work together to promote a favorable investment climate at home and encourage other countries to consider investing in the United States.

The bottom line is that we want more BMWs, Schneider Electrics, Samsungs and so many others to invest here, locate here and create jobs here. These firms know the United States is open for business.

Our job is to make sure we do everything we can to show that the United States is where the world’s next big investments should occur and then close the deals. That’s an indispensable strategy for shared prosperity and a legitimate vision that Americans and our partners can embrace.