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WASHINGTON - I want to thank the Commerce Department
for hosting the first SelectUSA summit.
I am here today with a very simple message. We do not
take investment in the United States for granted. We know it is important
for jobs. It is important for our businesses. And it is important
for our prosperity.
In our increasingly global economy, the United States cannot
settle for the status quo. That is why President Obama has made fueling
America’s competitiveness the cornerstone of his economic policies. Our
economy is the largest in the world, and looking to the future we need to make
it even stronger by improving worker training and education, upgrading our
infrastructure, driving innovation and research, and growing our manufacturing
base. The truth is, there are additional things we can and want to do to
make America an even stronger magnet for investment.
Before talking more about what makes our economy such an
attractive place to invest and what we plan to do to make it even more
attractive, let me start by saying a few words about the state of the world
There is broad evidence of recovery across the global
landscape. Economic conditions, particularly in advanced economies, have
improved. But there is also no doubt that global demand is not where it
needs to be. In too many countries, unemployment levels are unacceptably
high, especially among young people. As I have said before, leaders
around the world should make strengthening demand and creating jobs a priority
so we can unlock growth that is robust, sustainable, and balanced.
Looking at Europe, it seems the long recession is slowly
fading even as critical steps have been taken to restore financial
stability. This is good news since Europe is so integral to the global
economy. Nevertheless, growth in Europe remains weak, with domestic
demand particularly anemic. It is critical that surplus countries contribute
more to demand as deficit countries undergo adjustment. Europe must also
press forward on other measures to address high unemployment and the formation
of a strong banking union.
After years of economic weakness and deflation, Japan
appears to be turning an economic corner. Economic growth has improved,
and policymakers have demonstrated a commitment to economic transition.
This will require a careful balancing of fiscal policy and advancing reforms
that increase domestic demand.
Economic growth across many emerging market economies
remains positive, but it has slowed somewhat. This slowdown is primarily
because post-crisis stimulus has waned, the demand for exports has fallen, and
credit conditions have tightened. While these headwinds will put pressure
on some emerging economies going forward, most emerging markets have
strengthened their institutions and frameworks over the past decade. This
will help increase their ability to adjust to shifts in capital flows.
In China—the world’s second largest economy—policymakers
have also made substantial commitments to reforms. Growth there continues
to remain relatively robust, but there is the question of how to sustain robust
rates of growth over the medium term as the Chinese economy rebalances toward domestic
consumption and away from domestic investment and exports. At the same
time, China needs to increase the flexibility of its exchange-rate regime and
permit more market-determined access to capital and more open access to
markets. The success of this transition matters to the U.S., to Asian
countries, and the global economy.
China is currently conducting a series of high level
meetings designed to inform their reform agenda, and we look forward to seeing
how that plan evolves in the coming weeks.
As we meet this morning, there really has never been another
time when the world economy has been so interconnected. And it is
clear that what happens across the global economic landscape matters to us here
at home. Our prosperity grows when other countries succeed.
Economic challenges abroad reduce economic activity here in the U.S. And
so we have a stake in each other’s future.
We need the world to sustain greater growth, and the world
continues to need the United States to be the backbone of a stable global
Now, when you look at the United States, while we still have
work to do to speed up growth and create more jobs, we have been making
significant progress. And one of the reasons we have been making progress
is because the core of our economy is resilient.
To fully appreciate that resilience, it is important to
remember how much things have changed since the dark days of 2008.
Five years ago, our economy was hit by a devastating
financial crisis that helped trigger the worst recession since the Great
Our banks were on the brink. Our housing market was in
deep trouble. And our auto industry was sliding toward the abyss.
In fact, in the months before President Obama was sworn into
office, we were shedding roughly 800,000 jobs a month, and our economy was
shrinking at an 8.3 percent annual rate.
There was real concern that the U.S. economy would not
But it did—thanks to the tenacity of the American people,
the determination of the private sector, and the bold, decisive actions taken
Right away, the President moved to pull our economy out of
the recession. He worked to put out the financial fires, stabilize the
automakers, and jumpstart growth.
In addition, he pursued policies to fuel our economy into
the future. That meant investing in education and infrastructure.
Fixing a health care system that was broken. Creating new rules so our
financial system works better for consumers and investors. Locking in
lower taxes for 98 percent of all Americans. And lowering barriers so
that entrepreneurs and businesses can innovate, grow, and hire.
Because of these measures, we are moving in the right
direction. The positive signs are real. Since 2009, our economy has
been expanding. Over the past 43 months, private employers have added 7.6
million jobs. In fact, businesses have added more than 2 million jobs
over the last year alone. And the end of this year and beginning of next
show signs of further progress.
The auto industry is growing again. Manufacturing has
increased. The housing market has improved. American
companies like Ford and Apple are starting to move operations back to the
United States. We sell more products made in America to the rest of the
world than ever before. The cost of health care is growing at its slowest
rate in years. And our deficits are half of what they were when the
President took office.
So we have seen the United States economy make a
turnaround. Our economy has actually recovered faster than any other
advanced economy. And just as it is becoming more expensive and more
difficult to do business in other parts of the world, our economy is becoming
more competitive and more attractive. Business leaders from around
the world tell me all the time that there is no other place where they would
rather do business.
On my very first trip as Treasury Secretary, I visited a
plant in Alpharetta, Georgia, and saw firsthand American workers producing
electronic equipment that would be added to construction machinery for export
to China. The plant is owned and operated by Siemens, the German-based
engineering company, and it is one of 130 manufacturing facilities that Siemens
runs throughout our country. Siemens has invested more than $25 billion
in the United States over the past decade, and it invests about $1 billion in
research and development here annually.
When explaining why the company is so committed to the
United States, Helmuth Ludwig, the CEO of Siemens Industry Sector, North
America, puts it this way: “America produces better than anyone.”
The heart of our ability to produce better than anyone is
the American people. Our workers are talented and highly
productive. Our entrepreneurs are the most determined and
At the same time, we are the largest single market in the
world. We have a deep infrastructure that connects this vast and vibrant
market through pipelines, ports, roads, and bridges. And our universities
attract and challenge the best and brightest minds from around the globe.
On top of that, we are experiencing an energy revolution in
America. Today, the United States is less dependent on foreign oil than
at any time in more than two decades. We produce more oil at home than we
have in nearly 25 years, and more natural gas than any time in history.
This transformation is driving down energy costs for consumers and
And our increase in energy production is not limited to oil
and gas. Energy from renewable sources like wind and solar doubled in the
President’s first term, and we will continue to make investments in these
So our economy has made progress, and that progress has made
the United States an even better place to invest.
But I want to underscore for everyone here that we are not
satisfied with the current pace of job creation and economic growth. We
know there are things we can do to invest in American skills, American
innovation, and American infrastructure so that the United States remains the
most attractive place around the globe to do business. Taking actions in these
areas is good for growth and job creation.
While the process created unnecessary anxiety, Congress
proved that it can still do what is needed when it came together on a
bipartisan basis just two weeks ago to reopen our government and raise the
statutory debt limit. It is now time for Congress to make a pro-growth,
pro-jobs agenda the focal point. This will strengthen our economy at home
and further cement the United States as the best place to invest, hire and grow
Let me point to the key areas where we can make a difference
First, as Democrats and Republicans meet to produce a
budget, they have an opportunity to forge an agreement focused on restoring our
long-term fiscal health while making targeted investments to grow our
economy. They should use this occasion to replace the corrosive
across-the-board cuts known as sequestration with fair and balanced deficit
reduction policies. It is crucial that we close wasteful tax loopholes,
eliminate costs where it makes sense, and use some of the resources we free up
to invest in a few key areas like manufacturing, infrastructure, and education.
Second, Congress should finish comprehensive immigration
reform and send a bill to the President for his signature. The Senate has
already passed bipartisan legislation, and it is awaiting passage in the House
This immigration legislation would strengthen our borders,
chart a path to earned citizenship, and increase economic growth by more than a
trillion dollars. It drives growth by attracting highly skilled
scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to our country. It will bring
greater investment in the United States from beyond our shores, create new job
opportunities, ignite new consumer demand, and spark business activity.
It would do all this while increasing payroll tax revenue that will reduce our
deficit and put Social Security and Medicare on a more stable footing.
Another bipartisan bill that can strengthen our economy is
the farm bill. Bipartisan legislation that has already passed the
Senate is designed to protect America’s farmers and ranchers and provide a
safety net for America’s most vulnerable children.
The farm bill conferees have an opportunity to work together
to develop a bipartisan package that promotes economic growth and job creation
while ensuring that a generation of needy children are well
Over the years, Democrats and Republicans have come together
to foster economic growth, job creation, and investment. We can again see
that kind of bipartisan progress as we work together to reform how we tax
businesses while upgrading our infrastructure to meet the economic needs of the
Let me be clear: the President is committed to business tax
reform. This will help create and retain good jobs in the United
States. The fact is, the United States now has one of the highest
statutory corporate tax rates in the world. But as high as that rate is,
it only raises about an average amount of revenue as a share of GDP when
compared to other advanced economies. Our tax code is also full of
special interest tax breaks and loopholes, allowing some companies to pay
little or nothing in taxes while hurting others that are investing in the
United States. We can do better. And we can do this by broadening
the tax base and lowering tax rates in a way that does not add a dime to the
federal budget deficit. The President has put forward the details of his
approach to business tax reform, and he has made clear his commitment to
budget-neutral business tax reform paired with an infrastructure package, paid
for with one-time revenue.
We have a real opportunity ahead to seize the mantle of tax
reform and establish a simpler, fairer, and more competitive business tax system
in the United States. The plans currently being considered in Congress
right now share much in common with the approach the President has put forward,
and there is no reason why we cannot start with the substantial policy areas
that we agree on and come together to find common ground.
In addition to reforming our tax system, we must finish the
hard work of creating new trade agreements that are free and fair. These
agreements must open up markets for America’s businesses. And they must
add to the millions of American jobs that are currently supported by
trade. As Congress comes together in support of trade deals, we will help
expand the biggest, most dynamic marketplace in the global economy and
reinforce America's position as the preeminent platform to invest and export.
To that end, we are working to complete a Trans-Pacific
Partnership. When completed, this comprehensive, high-standard agreement
will boost exports and level the playing field in the Asia Pacific.
I want to point out that the United States welcomes
investment from around the world from every type of enterprise and in all
sectors. We are committed to maintaining the most open and transparent
investment environment. Our process for reviewing the national security
implications of foreign investment in the U.S. focuses solely on national
security considerations, and reviews are completed within a period of one to
So as we press forward, we know where we need to focus our
efforts. The priorities I just outlined are clear and doable. They
amount to real solutions that will make a real difference for our economy now
and in the future.
Let me close by thanking the Commerce Department for hosting
this summit as well as everyone for coming today. America has always been
known as the land of opportunity—a place where you can make it if you
try. And have no doubt, opportunity in the United States is very much
alive and well. It is alive for our workers. It is alive for our
businesses. And it is alive for all of you who want to invest here.
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