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Friday, April 18, 2014  

US lawmakers seek to boost foreign investment share
WASHINGTON A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday are calling for action to boost the US share of global foreign investment, which has fallen 50 per cent over the past decade as companies pour money into faster-growing economies.  

“We think it’s critical to evaluate what we need to do and how we can actually attract more capital here” because of the role foreign companies can play in creating US jobs, Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said.  

 Kerry said he was teaming up with Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Repub-lican, to introduce legislation requiring the Commerce Department to assess what policy changes are needed to encourage more companies to invest in the United States.  

 “We want to ensure there aren’t barriers out there that are preventing more foreign investment from taking place here grow. It’s as simple as that,” Kerry said.  

 US subsidiaries of foreign companies already employ an estimated 5.3 million workers, or roughly 5 per cent of total private sector employment. Roughly 2 million of the jobs are in the manufacturing sector, and the subsidiaries also account for about 21 percent of US exports.  

But even though foreign direct investment in the United States dipped 4 per cent in 2011, the United States is still the biggest draw for global investors. The $227.9 billion invested last year was more than double what second-ranked China saw, according to the Organisation for International Investment, a US industry group that advocates open investment policies.  

 “Yet, the US share of total world stock in foreign direct investment dropped to 18 per cent in 2010, down significantly from 37 per cent a decade earlier as worldwide competition for foreign investment dollars has increased and multinational companies have expanded investment in developing countries” like China, Brazil and India, the group said in a recent report.  

 Representatives Robert Dold and Peter Roskam, both Illinois Republicans, are working with Representatives Gary Peters and John Darrows, Democrats from Michigan and Georgia, on a companion bill in the House of Representatives.  

 “We are not necessarily the most business-friendly environment in the United States,” in part because of a high corporate tax rate, Dold said. “What this legislation does is respond to the challenge of other countries so hopefully we can get better at attracting foreign investment.”  

He argued a concerted push could be part of broader solution to tackle the United States’ economic woes.  

“At the end of the day, we want to talk about growing the number of taxpayers. That means getting people off the unemployment line into good high-paying jobs,” Dold said.    

President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has already recommended a National Investment Initiative to capture $1 trillion in new foreign investment over the next four to five years. That’s akin to Obama’s National Export Initiative, which hopes to double US exports in five years.  

Reuters
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