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Opening Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Thank you, Karen, for that kind introduction, and a good morning to all of you. Welcome to the Sixth Annual SelectUSA Investment Summit.

Thank you, everyone, for making the trip to Washington, D.C., to learn about the great investment opportunities throughout the United States.

We appreciate the time you are taking from your busy schedules to investigate opportunities to grow your enterprises here in the most innovative country in the world.

The response to this year’s Summit was so strong that we had to add overflow rooms due to capacity limitations. Even with that, we had to turn down some late responders.

Thank you to the state economic development delegations who are here and to the country delegations in attendance.

We very much appreciate the support of all our embassies in recruiting attendees, and the 120 members of the U.S. diplomatic corps who have traveled with your country delegations to Washington for this event.

And a special thank you to the nearly 1,400 foreign delegates from 78 markets, who are here today. We hope that you have a productive next two days.

We are also thrilled that four Cabinet Secretaries, and Larry Kudlow, Director of the White House National Economic Council, will be addressing the conference; as will Ivanka Trump, who will be with us tomorrow.

It’s a clear demonstration of the commitment of the entire U.S. government to embracing and encouraging your investments in the United States.

We also have eight Governors attending:

  • The Governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb;
  • Governor Matt Bevin, from Kentucky; 
  • Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan; 
  • Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant; 
  • The Governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt; 
  • Mike DeWine, the Governor of Ohio; 
  • Puerto Rico Governor, Ricardo Rossello; 
  • and the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer.

All of them are interested in hosting you in their states.

This is my third Investment Summit. I look forward to it every year. It is an exciting three days.
Please use this event as a springboard to visit the states to learn just how committed they are to working with you to develop new business opportunities.

Nowhere else but in the United States will you find such an advantageous mixture of innovation, entrepreneurship, diversity, a dedication to hard work, and an incredibly high quality of life.

Our unique, dynamic population of 328 million provides companies with direct links to every global market.

Opening operations in the United States provides your company with access to the wealthiest and most discerning consumers in the world. Being close to American customers drives the digitization of your operations and your products, making them more appealing everywhere in the world you sell them.

The SelectUSA Investment Summit is the largest annual economic development conference in the United States. The companies and economic development officials in attendance make connections and help create the successes that come from the event.

Past attendees have announced almost $104 billion in new investment projects within five years of attending the Investment Summit.

Those projects support more than 167,000 American jobs.

That tells me a few things:

First, that the executives who attend this event are ready to grow and renew their companies.
Second, that companies know that investing in the United States will help assure their long-term competitive viability, not only in the United States, but also in their home countries.

Foreign firms who have invested in the United States know that if they are successful here, they will be successful anywhere else in the world.

And, third, the Summit provides our economic development leaders from the states and territories with a unique opportunity to work with your company and, perchance, to close a deal.

Year after year, this Summit brings the right people together in one place to meet and develop life-changing partnerships, and life-long friendships.

It is important for you to know that America is, and always will be, open for business.

We are a society that welcomes new companies from abroad, in ways that most foreigners find surprising, and refreshing.

We are a society that embraces free-market capitalism as an economic model that fosters optimism, and opportunity for all. More than 7 million Americans are gainfully working for foreign-owned firms in the United States.

Any company that has opened a facility in the United States knows just how hard Americans work.
They are dedicated to learning and using the latest technologies to grow existing businesses, and to help start new ones.

The United States welcomes foreign companies of all sizes, and in a wide range of industries.
French sporting goods retailer “Decathlon” attended last year’s Investment Summit and recently opened its first outlet in Emeryville, California.

The company said the SelectUSA Investment Summit provided it with the legal, regulatory, and economic understanding it needed to succeed. 

While at the Summit, the French company also connected with officials from the California economic development community. These officials continue to support the company and its indigenous growth.

In just a year, Decathlon added 97 workers in California, and has access to the incredibly powerful consumer base on the West Coast.

On the larger side of the size spectrum, South Korean energy storage company SK Innovation attended SelectUSA Investment Summits in 2013 and 2018. 

Just three months ago, I had the honor of attending the groundbreaking of SK's $1.7 billion electric-battery facility in Commerce, Georgia.

I was joined by SK Innovation CEO and President Jun Kim; Executive Vice Chairman, Jae-won Chey; Georgia Governor Brian Kemp; and leaders from across Georgia to celebrate the company's investment in Georgia. 

Taiwan’s Lung-Soon Ocean Group is creating 50 jobs in Astoria, Oregon, in a $10 million pet food processing plant that will open next year. 

Canada’s New Flyer opened a new $30 million, 300,000-square-foot bus manufacturing facility in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, and will hire 350 workers.

The company from Pakistan, Midwest Fertilizer, is opening a $2.4 billion fertilizer plant in Indianapolis next year. 

Finally, South Korea-based LOTTE Chemical USA entered a joint venture with Texas-based Westlake Chemical Corporation for a $3.1 billion ethane cracker complex in Lake Charles, Louisiana. 

The facility will employ 250 people directly, and support 2,000 indirect jobs in the area. 
The United States welcomes all of these companies with open arms, just as it has welcomed thousands of other foreign-owned companies that have committed more than $4 trillion in FDI in the United States.

The United States is the world’s biggest destination for FDI.

And there are good reasons why.

We have reduced the corporate tax rate; provided 100 percent of capex; and created Opportunity Zones — all to substantially improve the competitiveness of U.S.-based producers.

We are eliminating senseless regulations that hinder your investment in new plants and equipment. 

We are defending American producers from foreign nations that dump government-subsidized products into the U.S. and global markets, or that have refused to play by the global rules of trade.
We will protect your most strategic asset: your intellectual property. We will staunchly defend your business from nations that are selling fakes and counterfeits.

And we are training a new generation of skilled workers.

Ivanka Trump will describe our new worker and training programs later in the summit. 

These pro-business and workforce policies are paying off.

America continues to astound the world with its economic growth rates.

At 3.6 percent, our unemployment rate is lower than it has been in decades, and incomes are finally on the rise.

The United States remains a land of opportunity.

For the seventh straight year, global CEOs ranked the U.S. at the top of A.T. Kearney’s FDI Confidence Index.

This is due in large part to our openness to new ideas, and to investment from companies like yours.

Taking advantage of everything available to you at this Investment Summit will positively change both the course of your business, and your own personal life trajectory.

The networking and match-making sessions will give you the chance to reach new partners, and to meet people who are here for only one reason: To help you succeed.

Our plenary discussions and breakouts provide you with the viewpoints of government officials and the world’s top business leaders who have successfully navigated the path to growth in the United States.

I wish you all the best of success this week in making contacts and working together.Please, take time to visit all of the booths in the exhibition hall. Each has something unique to offer.

The representatives here from the states and territories are looking forward to working with you.
Thank you and welcome again to this exciting event.

Leadership