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America: Still No. 1 in Direct Foreign Investment

Aaron Task
Editor in Chief
Fin - Daily Ticker - US

America is open for business and the world wants to do business here.

That's the combined message of a statement today by President Obama and the results of a study released in tandem by the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).

"My Administration is committed to ensuring that the United States continues to be the most attractive place for businesses to locate, invest, grow, and create jobs," President Obama said in a statement. "We encourage and support business investment from sources both at home and abroad."

Although the OECD ranks America a slightly above the global average for "openness" toward foreign investment, America "remains the most competitive and most desirable place for investment in the world," Austan Goolsbee, chair of the CEA, tells The Daily Ticker.

Goolsbee says that claim is based on both surveys of foreign businesses and where they actually invest their money.

"Pretty much by any measure, and by factor of three, people are saying the U.S. is where they want to invest," Goolsbee say.

Among the highlights of the CEA survey:

  • At $3.1 trillion in 2009, the U.S. received the most foreign direct investment (FDI) of any country in the world. America's tally was three times that of France or the U.K. and more-than six times the FDI in China.
  • Foreign firms like Siemens and Toyota employed 5.7 million U.S. workers in 2009, accounting for 5% of the U.S. private workforce and, with over 2 million workers, about 13% of the U.S. manufacturing sector.
  • Foreign firms account for more than 18% of total U.S. merchandise exports and, at $40.5 billion, over 14% of total U.S. private investment in research and development.

Citing initiatives such as the SelectUSA program, Gooslbee says the Obama Administration has been and will continue to pursue policies designed to lure additional foreign funds, including reforming the corporate tax code.

"We've got to make clear to the world: The U.S. is open for business," he says. "If you want to come here, employ U.S. workers, pay 'em a good wage and build stuff in America, we're open to it."

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @atask or email him at altask@yahoo.com