U.S. Launches Campaign For More Foreign Investment

Administration assures world that the U.S. is not hostile to foreign investors.

A new initiative announced on May 10 by President George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson aims to bolster foreign investment in the U.S. amidst a drop-off in global investment in recent years and a perception of barriers to foreign firms, officials said. "As both the world's largest investor and the world's largest recipient of investment, the U.S. has a key stake in promoting an open investment regime," Bush said."My administration is committed to ensuring that the U.S. continues to be the most attractive place in the world to invest."

DP World sparked a furor by acquiring U.S. port operator P&O, but then sold the U.S. operations in the face of massive criticism in Congress and elsewhere.

Paulson said the administration was concerned because of a drop in foreign investment in the U.S. since a peak in 2000. "And as I've traveled around the world, there are some that in the wake of the Dubai Ports confusion and publicity are questioning whether we'll really welcome investment, whether we're erecting barriers," Paulson said in an interview with CNBC television

Treasury figures showed the number of Americans employed by foreign firms declined from 5.7 million in 2000 or 5.1% of the private sector workforce, to 5.1 million, or 4.7% in 2005.

The new effort was welcomed by the Organization for International Investment, an association representing U.S. affiliates of global corporations. "International investment in the U.S. is a crucial part of our economic vitality, providing 5.1 million jobs, contributing to our export performance and providing consumers with robust competition," said Todd Malan, president and chief executive of the organization. "Unfortunately, some international business leaders have wondered if the U.S. had become hostile to foreign investment.

"This affirmation of longstanding U.S. policy is a signal that the U. S. continues to support international companies to 'insource' capital and jobs to the United States. This policy also sets an example for our trading partners, some of whom have slid toward investment protectionism," Malan added.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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