Obama push on inward investment




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By FT

President Barack Obama is mounting a big push to bolster foreign investment the US – amid evidence America is falling behind other countries the race for global capital.

The aggressive move by Mr Obama to pitch America as open for business reflects a growing realisation Washington the case for investing the world’ biggest economy is no longer self-evident.

2000, the US held 37 per cent of the worldwide inward stock of foreign investment. By 2012, had dwindled to 17 per cent. The US attracted $166bn foreign direct investment 2012, a 28 per cent fall on 2011, and this year’ performance could be weaker. In the first six months of 2013, the US brought in $66bn in foreign investment, well behind the $84bn of the first half of 2012.

The FDI push comes after this month’ fiscal – involving a 16-day government shutdown and a brush with debt default – that has raised eyebrows about the ability of the US to manage its economy.

Mr Obama and senior figures in administration will ask foreign investors to shrug off the country’s paralysis this week when they speak at a two-day in Washington, the first of its kind by the commerce department, uniting foreign investors with US economic development agencies and and local .

’s time for folks to . . . focus on doing everything we can to spur growth and create new high-quality jobs,” the White House said on Friday.

The US has generally shied away any big initiatives to promote foreign investment. But that has changed, with the growth of emerging markets such as , and Brazil, which has heightened .

“The administration is focusing on FDI as an economic priority because the US has been losing ground,” said Nancy McLernon, president of the for International Investment.

The argument for investing in the US has traditionally been that enjoys a huge and wealthy consumer market and a predictable legal system.

But otherwise, its competitiveness appears to have taken steps backwards. Its corporate tax system remains a morass, infrastructure is in of retooling and there are growing fears about the education system’s capacity to develop a well-trained workforce. Moreover, dysfunction in Washington has damaged the case for investment.

“The way that the US has handled things – on fiscal policy and, frankly, monetary policy – has not exactly been confidence-inspiring,” said Clay Lowery, vice-president at Rock Creek Global Advisers and a senior US Treasury official under George W Bush.