Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
2013 OFII Government Affairs & Communications Conference
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
As prepared for delivery
Thank you, Nancy, for your gracious introduction.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak at OFII’s Government Affairs and Communications Conference.
There are great companies represented here, that are driving economic growth and job creation in the United States.
The last time I addressed an OFII gathering was at the White House Business Council and the SelectUSA Forum on Global Investment on July 24.
White House senior advisors, Valerie Jarrett and Gene Sperling, along with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker were there, along with top CEOs, including OFII members, and ambassadors from 20 countries around the world.
I also had the opportunity to moderate a panel and we discussed four main topics.
What is the United States doing well to attract foreign business?
What could the United States improve to ensure that participating businesses retain and expand their U.S. operations?
What could SelectUSA do that would be helpful to ambassadors to bring in foreign investors?
And, what could we do with the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit to ensure that it achieves our objectives and was successful?
We had a great discussion and here are some of the key takeaways.
The importance of the U.S. regulatory environment to encouraging and retaining global investment.
The need for close interagency coordination on issues of importance to investors, including facilitating FDI and post-investment assistance, or aftercare.
Paying additional attention to building skilled labor in the United States, including pathways for apprenticeships and other training programs.
The expansion of trade agreements, with particular emphasis on T-TIP and TPP.
The point that visas and immigration issues remain a constraint and a critical area of concern to firms.
The need for increased federal engagement on facilitating FDI through SelectUSA.
And, lastly, the participants noted that university exchanges are critical for technology commercialization and business incubation.
As you may know, I am leaving my position later this year, after the SelectUSA summit, which I will talk about more in a bit.
I am honored to have been given an opportunity by President Obama to serve as Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.
The President understands the importance of international trade and it’s been a priority for him.
During his administration, we worked to get three trade agreements approved by Congress, with Panama, Colombia and Korea.
And, the T-TIP and TPP negotiations are moving forward.
The President is also seeking renewed trade promotion authority so that he can continue negotiating trade agreements to expand markets for U.S. products and services and create jobs here at home.
As you can tell, we are actively engaged on the trade front and I’m very pleased that U.S. exports are at record levels.
Furthermore, it’s a real privilege to promote the United States, our exporters, and our private sector everywhere I go.
However, just to be clear, that is not all I do.
I’ve also worked tirelessly to promote the United States as the premier investment destination during my travels abroad.
The hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs as a result of foreign direct investment in the United States are vital to the U.S. economy.
You and your companies already know this and would not be here if you felt differently.
In that vein, we also understand the importance of doing all we can to encourage more investment in the United States.
That’s why the President established the SelectUSA initiative, a whole-of-government effort to promote and facilitate investment in the United States.
SelectUSA works to provide information assistance to the global investment community, advocate for U.S. cities, states, and regions competing for global investment, and serves as an ombudsman for investors.
Regarding our ombudsman role, let me emphasize why this is important.
This means that if there is a federal rule or regulation that is hindering or delaying an investment project, SelectUSA will facilitate direct communication between the relevant agency and the client.
Not only are we working directly with foreign firms to address their concerns on a case by case basis, but we are also working to catalogue the real issues to help inform the policy-making process and make the United States more conducive to foreign investment.
Let me tell you about a couple of SelectUSA successes, one involving a company represented here.
In April 2012, Bombardier Aerospace held a groundbreaking ceremony in Wichita, KS, as part of an investment to expand its Learjet facility.
Our commercial service staff in Canada and SelectUSA helped Bombardier address its cross-border and regulatory concerns –including concerns relating to International Traffic in Arms Regulations and Buy American requirements.
We also scheduled more than 40 meetings for Bombardier with U.S. aerospace companies interested in partnering with Bombardier on its aircraft platforms.
Another success was the Austrian-based automotive industry supplier, Voestalpine Metal Forming.
It announced a plan to invest $62 million (€50 million) and create 220 new jobs in an automotive components plant in Cartersville, Georgia.
SelectUSA and our Commercial Service staff in Austria engaged Voestalpine over the last few years and supported this investment by providing comprehensive counseling concerning its planned greenfield investment by the Automotive Division of Voestalpine in the United States.
At the firm’s request, SelectUSA also connected Voestalpine’s program manager with the State of Georgia European Office in Munich.
I am also pleased that we have companies represented here today that have recently made investments and expansions in the United States such as Wipro subsidiary Infocrossing, Sumitomo Group subsidiary Valent BioSciences, Diageo, Areva, and, Syngenta.
Whether it’s through SelectUSA or companies making decisions on their own, these are all excellent examples of how the United States is a great investment destination.
Now let me tell you about the upcoming SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit this October 31 and November 1 at the Marriott Wardman Hotel in Washington, DC.
We are very excited about this first-of-its-kind event.
Companies and investors will be able to meet face-to-face with economic development officials from across the country.
These officials will be ready to talk about their projects for potential investment.
We will have economic development organizations from 42 states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia represented at the summit.
We’re also going to have a special area on the trade show floor where companies and investors can speak directly with representatives from across the Federal government to get their questions answered.
More than 70 countries from every part of the world will be represented at the summit.
And, we have a full agenda with a great lineup of speakers from cabinet members, top CEOs, governors, and members of academia to your very own Nancy McLernon.
Nancy, thank you for joining us and we look forward to hearing your insights.
I also know that some of your companies will be represented.
For those that have not signed up to join us at the Summit, I’d like to ask a little favor.
Sign up as soon as you get back to your offices this afternoon.
It’s very easy.
All you do is go to www.selectusasummit.com to register.
If you have any questions, you can call us at 202-482-4078.
I look forward to seeing each of you there at what promises to be an outstanding summit that you shouldn’t miss.
Let me close by saying that our work with OFII, going back to 2006, is very important for the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Administration.
OFII has been integral in providing support for several visits by senior Commerce officials to manufacturing facilities around the United States, and we appreciate that.
We’ve worked closely with OFII on FDI attraction efforts.
Your organization is uniquely positioned as the principal professional association for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms.
It is my hope that our mutually beneficial cooperation continues in the years ahead, particularly through efforts like SelectUSA.
Again, my thanks to Nancy and OFII for the invitation to join you today.
My thanks to the companies represented here for investing in America, for believing in America, and for contributing to our nation’s growth and prosperity.
Again, don’t forget to register for the SelectUSA summit when you get back to your offices.
We want to see each and every one of you there.
Thank you very much and have a great day.
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