From USA-ITA OFF THE CUFF for February 1, 2013
On January 31st, USA-ITA attended a roundtable luncheon at the Heritage Foundation featuring Nancy McLernon, President & CEO of the Organization for International Investment (OFII). The luncheon included a lively discussion on topics including U.S. efforts to attract foreign investment, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and more.
Everyone is talking about the need to “bring manufacturing back to the United States,” but what about bringing more foreign companies? OFII represents U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies and is working to make sure that they receive non-discriminatory treatment under state and federal law. After all, these foreign companies with U.S. operations employ some 5.3 million Americans (4.7 percent of private sector employment) in jobs that pay salaries 36 percent higher than the economy-wide average. These companies also account for 18 percent of U.S. exports.
McLernon discussed the need to be more open to these foreign companies. In particular, the United States needs to address the skills gap, and look at Germany, which has done well with training workers in skilled manufacturing required by foreign companies. The United States is still the top destination for foreign direct investment, but we’re rapidly losing our share as developing countries seem more attractive—so we need to be careful that we don’t lose those jobs and economic opportunities that are still needed in our country today.
The discussion also focused on issues surrounding acquisition and the Committee on Foreign Direct Investment (CFIUS), the inter-agency group that has the authority to review investment and M&A transactions by foreign companies in the United States. (You may recall CFIUS and the Dubai Ports World controversy.) While the lunch attendees disagreed over the role of CFIUS, all agreed that the United States should do what we can to attract foreign investment without harming national security. (Related: Heritage Senior Research Fellow Derek Scissors, who attended the lunch, just published a new paper titled, “A Better Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,” available here.)
Finally, during the Q&A, one attendee asked OFII about their involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. While OFII hasn’t been necessarily involved in trade advocacy, McLernon said the TPP agreement is very important and they will likely get engaged on the issue.