(AFP) – Oct 7, 2011
WASHINGTON — US officials and business leaders stressed the need Friday to encourage China, India, Brazil and other countries to increase their investments in the United States as a means to create US jobs.
"In 2009 the United States attracted 12 percent of total global investment, down from 25 percent over a decade ago," Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank told President Barack Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
"That's despite having the world's largest consumer market, a highly educated workforce, strong intellectual property protection and fluid capital markets," she told the forum chaired by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"In the face of increased competition, we need to step up our game," according to Blank, who said the United States has a total of $2.3 trillion in foreign direct investment.
Antonio Perez, chairman and chief executive officer of the Eastman Kodak Company, echoed what he called a "troubling" trend in the US declining share of global investments.
"Even more troubling than that is the fact that out of the 12 percent, only two and a half percent comes from the combination of Brazil, India and China," he said, adding that "does not bode well for the future of this country."
Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of the General Electric Company who chairs the jobs council, underlined the same concerns before a gathering of top executives from US affiliates of companies based in other countries.
Executives of firms like Germany's Daimler Trucks, France's Air Liquide and other foreign-based firms said the United States produced top-notch engineers but needed to improve the vocational skills of its work force.
They also complained of costly visas for foreign executives, declining infrastructure and rising health care costs for workers as competitive disadvantages.
Immelt called on the United States to step up to the mark.
"When you think about what Singapore does or what other countries do to attract investment in their countries, there's no reason why we shouldn't be a lot more aggressive and lot more competitive and a lot more welcoming, and a lot hungrier, quite honestly, as a country," Immelt said.
"And with 9.1 percent unemployment, that should be our destiny," he added.
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