Expanding Foreign Investment in 2016: Creating Jobs and Supporting the U.S. Economy

In 2011, the Swiss food company, Nestle, opened a 75,000 square foot facility in Cleveland, Ohio. In November 2012, Sasol, a South African energy company, announced that it would build a multi-billion dollar project to convert natural gas to other liquid fuels. And in 2014, the German automaker BMW announced a $1 billion investment in their plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, making it the company's largest factory in the world.

These three examples of foreign direct investment (FDI) illustrate why for three years running, the United States has earned the title of best place in the world to invest by the business consultancy AT Kearney -- the first time that any country has earned this title for three consecutive years. In 2013, 6.1 million people were employed by majority-owned U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms, the largest figure since the financial crisis. And the Bureau of Economic Analysis recently announced that in 2014, FDI expenditures made by foreign investors acquiring, establishing, and expanding U.S. businesses totaled $241.3 billion.

These numbers prove a critical point when it comes to foreign direct investment and the U.S. economy. The same competitive advantages that make our goods and services exports so in demand to foreign consumers are the same advantages that make the U.S. market so attractive to foreign investors: a workforce that is second-to-none in terms of productivity, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit; our global leadership in the use of innovative technology and advanced manufacturing; a high-quality supply chain; and a landscape defined by the rule of law, world-renowned educational institutions, and the broadest and deepest capital markets.

These reasons are precisely why the Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration -- the leading U.S. government agency responsible for attracting FDI -- is focusing on three historic opportunities in 2016 to attract greater business investment into the United States. The first will take place April 25-29 at the Hannover Messe trade fair in Hannover, Germany, the largest industrial trade fair in the world.

With President Obama's expected participation, and the United States participating as the "Partner Country" for the first time since the launch of the fair in 1947, Hannover Messe will represent a historic opportunity for American companies to showcase their goods, services, and investment opportunities. As a result of the added benefits coming from our Partner Country status, economic development organizations (EDOs) spanning approximately 30 states and regions, which actively work to encourage business investment, are already committed to attending. And businesses participating in our investment pavilion will achieve exposure to the 200,000 expected attendees, most of whom will have purchase-decision making authority.

The next opportunity will take place because of the efforts of our SelectUSA program, the first all-of-government program to attract FDI, which has facilitated $17 billion in investments since it was launched in 2011. The SelectUSA Summit in Washington, DC from June 19-21 will bring together representatives from business, government, and EDOs to highlight investment opportunities in the United States. SelectUSA will work to surpass the huge success of last year's summit; a summit that included the participation of 2,600 people from 70 international markets, as well as companies, business associations, and EDOs from all 50 states.

Finally, there will be our work with members of the House and Senate as well as other stakeholders to secure congressional passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP is the largest negotiated trade agreement in American history, and will reduce and eliminate trade barriers to 11 Pacific Rim markets, representing 40% of global GDP and 300 million consumers. This will incentivize companies from all over the world to set up operations in the U.S. to take advantage of this expanded access to our partner markets, in addition to our other competitive advantages. TPP represents a generational opportunity to enhance existing FDI flows and generate new investments that will drive economic growth throughout the United States.

Of course, none of these opportunities will create outcomes for American businesses and workers on their own. When American businesses attend Hannover Messe and the SelectUSA Summit, they can rely on the work of the trade and investment specialists from our Commercial Service, and our SelectUSA team, to assist in creating networking and matchmaking opportunities. Our business community can also rely on our dedicated staff in the 11 TPP markets to help generate greater foreign investment when that agreement comes into force.

Our country's singular ability to attract FDI has delivered growth, prosperity, and jobs coming out of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. And our continuing ability to ensure that the U.S. remains the top-global destination for FDI will be critical to furthering our future economic success and our ongoing global leadership.