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Remarks By Secretary Wilbur Ross at the U.S. Investment Advisory Council Meeting

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Thank you, Gil, for that kind introduction. It is my pleasure to welcome this group to the first meeting of the newly re-constituted Investment Advisory Council. I hope this morning’s session has been successful. Thank you all for volunteering for this assignment. Your civic engagement is extremely important to the future of our economy. Thank you also to Steven Meyers, and David Wheel, and everyone at SelectUSA, for all your work to get this Council up and operating.

We have a unique and diverse group of individuals on the IAC. You represent all facets of the American economy, and I’m glad you are finally on board and ready to go. Your knowledge, experience, and perspective will help us address economic issues that are the most pressing to millions of Americans. Your four subcommittees have a broad agenda that touches on all of the core themes associated with investment and economic growth. I look forward to hearing about your discussions regarding the Workforce, regarding Regulatory and Tax Policies, regarding U.S. Economic Competitiveness, and Strategic Communications. 

It will be a challenge to narrow your recommendations to those that can have the biggest and most immediate impact. I encourage you to think creatively about solutions. Please provide us with concrete policy proposals that we can implement to generate the high-paying jobs needed by millions of Americans and that fortify American competitiveness in global markets. In the era of globalization, the issues you are addressing are complex, and the diversity of special interests all collide in one place. Your challenge is to recommend actions that build on the Administration’s existing efforts to do what is best for American producers, American innovators, American workers, and the American communities in which they operate and live.

The former IAC provided us with numerous recommendations that are now being pursued through an interagency process. For example, this evening and tomorrow, I will be co-chairing with Ivanka Trump a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. This high-profile advisory group was established to support the National Council for the American Worker. The Advisory Group will be providing the President and the U.S. Government with recommendations during its quarterly meeting tomorrow.

We are pursuing other recommendations made by the previous IAC. We have strengthened Select USA’s outreach efforts to foreign investors. We are working with Treasury on streamlining the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act. And CFIUS has been reformed with the passage of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act — FIRRMA, which was signed into law last August.

President Trump has been pursuing an aggressive economic, trade, and investment strategy that benefits domestic producers and their employees. The goal of the Trump Administration is for the United States to be the number-one place in the world for investment in new and expanded production capacity, not only by American firms, but like-minded foreign firms as well. For the past two and a half years, we have focused on leveling the playing field for American producers. These policies — including tax and regulatory reform, and tariffs — are working, and they are working better than most people want to admit.

Companies are re-assessing the location of their production facilities and their supply chains. The tariffs have created the incentive for companies to question why are they in China. It is a communist nation that does not abide by the rule of law, and that also has no regard for intellectual property, human rights, or the basic values of a democracy. And despite the media chatter about how tariffs might upend economic growth, there is no evidence of it occurring.

The Census Bureau reported last week that retail sales in August were 4.6 percent above the same month last year. That is barely a harbinger of a recession. Online sales were up by 14.3 percent year over year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last Friday that import prices fell by 0.5 percent in August and are down by 2 percent over the past year. The problem of inflation caused by tariffs that people were so animated about last year is not at all evident.

Meanwhile, unemployment at 3.7 percent is at its lowest level since 1969. Wage growth at more than 3 percent is also the highest that it has been since 1969. There are 1.3 million more open jobs than there are people unemployed. And the Dow remains at very near historical highs. Americans know that prices they pay for manufactured products have been in long decline due to offshore outsourcing and the exploitation of foreign workers. Americans want to Buy American. We must figure out more ways for Americans to do so.

Re-Selecting the United States as a manufacturing hub to serve the U.S. market and be a base for exports is a primary goal of this administration. We have created a new ReSelect USA initiative under the Select USA banner.  We are interested in your recommendations as to how we can use ReSelect USA — and every other tool at our disposal — to create the profitable conditions that will enable companies to re-shore their production.

At the same time, it is imperative that we continue to be open to investment from foreign nationals in democratic countries. We welcome foreign investment from like-minded nations and we do everything we can to promote more of it. In my travels throughout the world and every time I meet with executives from foreign companies, I promote investment opportunities in the United States. We have the largest FDI stock of any nation in the world, totaling $4.3 trillion. We want that to grow, and to grow at an accelerating rate.

The Select USA Investment Summit has been a huge success, attracting record numbers of potential foreign investors. We are using all of our assets at the Commerce Department to promote next year’s Summit scheduled for June 1st through 3rd in Washington. But we are also mindful about the intentions of foreign investment.

CFIUS allows the U.S. Government to investigate foreign countries and foreign nationals who seek to obtain strategic industries by acquiring our most innovative small- and medium sized technology companies. Creating the conditions by which companies invest in the U.S. is a long-term endeavor that will outlast the two-year charter of your council.

I hope your meeting today sets you off on a good start. Again, thank you for your service. We will honor your commitment by doing everything we can to implement the solutions that you propose. I look forward to reviewing your recommendations and wish you the best in your efforts. Thank you.
 

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