Press Releases: Remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit

Thank you. Well, good afternoon. Thank you very much, Vinai. Appreciate the kind introduction. More importantly, I want to thank you for doing such a terrific job at SelectUSA. Thank you all for being here. I’m honored to be the closing keynote speaker, I gather, which means that I’m the guy who talks when everything’s been said – but not by everyone. So I’m here to add a little reinforcement to some very important messages, and I’m really delighted to be here with you.

I want to begin by thanking our absolutely extraordinary Secretary of Commerce – she is a delight to work with. Penny Pritzker and her team are making SelectUSA a great program. Penny, thank you. (Applause.) And I also want to thank the more than 2,600 people, I gather, from nearly 80 countries who’ve traveled here to be part of this summit. And you represent investors from all over the world, economic development organizations from every corner of the United States, and officials from every level of government, who have come here to facilitate greater investment in the United States. And your presence, I think, is evidence of the value of what we want to accomplish and of the very fulsome possibilities, the rich possibilities that we’re looking at and that we hope this summit will set in motion.

I’m particularly grateful to the dozens of U.S. ambassadors and chiefs of mission at posts all across the globe who’ve not only helped to bring so many international business people here today but who are in attendance themselves. I won’t embarrass them by asking them to stand, but that also could be an attendance check here. (Laughter.) But I will thank them profusely for making the effort. I really am grateful for that.

We have more than 50 chiefs of mission who are part of this summit, and that is a very significant deal. It’s leading delegations – each of them are leading delegations from the countries to which they’re posted. And they – all of them, believe me – understand that in today’s world, foreign policy and economic policy are not only linked, but they’re actually one and the same. And that’s why business and economics, believe me, are top priorities at every single one of our posts. We have 275 embassies, consulates around the world, and at every single one of them, this is a top priority. And I think the sheer number of organizations and businesses that are represented at this summit are an indication of that fact.

Now, some might debate it – I don’t – I think the United States of America, particularly at this moment of time is without doubt one of the best places in the world to invest, if not the best place. And I say that not with an ounce of arrogance, with some humility because there’s a certain – there’s a responsibility that falls in the hands of our entrepreneurs. I don’t stand here as a principal in the government and suggest that we did it all. We didn’t. It’s a combination. You have to create the framework, the structure, and then people have to come along with good ideas, good businesses, and they have to be free to be able to go out and make those businesses work.

But I am proud of what we have done since the moment of the economic crisis when I was in the United States Senate. I could never forget the Treasury secretary coming up pale and literally shaking, quite agitated, as he told us that the financial system of the United States of America was in jeopardy. And we have made an extraordinary return from that moment, and I believe President Obama, who came in at the transition of 2008 into 2009, made the right decisions at the right time that literally pulled this country back from the brink of certainly a huge recession, if not depression. And he deserves credit for the choices that he made. (Applause.)

Now we’ve – so much has happened, you kind of forget the tension of those moments and the reality of what was happening to businesses and to value in the marketplace. But I think you’ve heard a lot over the course of this week about the realities on the ground here in the United States. But I just want to reiterate a couple things, few things. First of all, the United States is the world’s largest market still. And it is the world’s richest market still. And we believe we can boast some of the world’s, if not the world’s, most productive workers, some of the world’s finest universities, and certainly some of its most innovative entrepreneurs, and the strongest intellectual property protections that you will find anywhere. And in many ways, there is no better time to invest than now. We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private sector job growth on record: 5 straight years, 60 consecutive months, 12 million new jobs. And there is no question that the growth that we’re experiencing is directly tied to the creativity of United States business leaders and the productivity of American workers.

But it’s also thanks to the important choices that were made by the President from day one. Actually, it began even in the transition, as President Bush was transitioning out, that President Bush deferred to the President and in communications made sure that steps that were taken were exactly what he would have wanted. And so over the past six years, the President has been laser focused on supporting job growth in this country by giving innovators, entrepreneurs, and hardworking Americans the precise tools that they need in order to be able to flourish.

Now when everybody was talking about the death of manufacturing in America – I know you remember that, not so long ago – the Administration, against the advice of many and against the votes of many, was doing all it could to make sure we saved that sector or helped that sector where it needed it. And today it is not only growing, it is growing at a much faster pace than the rest of the economy.

We’ve also focused on enhancing education and making sure that more American workers get the skills and the training that they need in order to effectively compete in today’s workforce.

We have focused on reducing health care costs and increasing our energy security, even as we take unprecedented steps to combat the global threat of climate change, which by the way is one of the most significant business opportunities the world has ever seen. So today we are number one in oil and gas production, but we’re also number one in wind power, and we’re producing 10 times as much solar energy as we did just 6 years ago. And I can guarantee you that, with the commitment of the President and the State Department and others to the negotiations that are going to finalize in Paris in December of this year, where the world will come together to try to put in place a climate change agreement, we will, I hope, send a message to the marketplace for years to come about the possibilities of the energy market and job creation that will come out of it.

And even as we have taken all of the steps I’ve just described, we’ve also cut our deficits as a share of our economy by roughly two-thirds. So we are getting our fiscal house in order.

Now last week, the President spoke in Cleveland about his economic vision. He called it “middle class economics.” It’s a pretty basic approach. It replaces the idea of “trickle down” with “everybody up.” You can’t build a house that is all roof; it just doesn’t work. You have to grow an economy through tax and spending policies that benefit the broad cross-section of your citizenry, not just those who already have it made. You have to make it easier for the top, the bottom, and the middle all at once to do well at the same time. That’s what characterized the greatest period of wealth creation, next to the early part of the 20th century, that’s ever taken place in our country, the 1990s, when a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users drove every single quintile of American taxpayer up in their income.

The energy market I just referred to is a $6 trillion market with 4 to 5 billion users today, growing to some 9 billion users over the course of the next 20, 30, 40 years. And it is the biggest single opportunity for transformation in our society by bringing power to places that don’t have it, by providing clean, alternative, renewable energy, by totally shifting our economy into lower cost, greater dependency, greater security, better healthcare, more jobs – an extraordinary opportunity. And as President Obama said in Cleveland – I think this applies not just to Americans – but he said Americans do better when everyone grows together.

Now in today’s interconnected world, my friends, that concept is actually also true on a global scale. When one nation’s economy is facing trouble – big nations, larger more importantly – then many others feel the pain as well. America slows down, others slow down. China slows down, others slows own. Europe slows down, others slow down. We know this.

Alternatively, on the other side of that coin, prosperity is contagious. Economies around the world are increasingly and inextricably linked. Every one of you know it. I’m looking at a couple of smartphones, mobile devices that are flashing away right now. Everybody’s in touch with everybody everywhere all the time. That’s part of what’s driving some of the change in the Middle East and in other parts of the world. And we do better, here in the United States and around the world, when everybody has the opportunity to take the opportunity they see on their mobile device and turn it into their own life. That’s the difference.

A nation’s interests and well-being today in today’s world are advanced not just by troops sent to deploy and protect a nation or your interests, not just by diplomats, but by entrepreneurs, executives – by the businesses they build, the workers they hire, the students that they train, and the shared prosperity that they create at home and abroad. Now that is why economic policy is foreign policy. (Applause.)

Economic policy and foreign policy are two sides of the same coin. I’ve said before; I say it all the time. Because frankly, I don’t think it’s said enough and it’s not put into practice as often as it ought to be as we fight for our budget on Capitol Hill. The State Department, the entire diplomacy, everything we do – and USAID and the State Department is 1 percent of the entire budget of the United States, one penny on the dollar. And for that, all the return of our ability of our embassies to marry people with jobs and businesses and so forth is extraordinary. As Secretary of State, I have made it clear to each and every one of the diplomats in the State Department that no matter what else they want to consider themselves, they are also economic officers. That’s how we have to think.

And we know that when American businesses invest abroad, we benefit here in the United States in the same way that your home countries benefit from investments on our shores. It’s an export world today. You can’t survive almost without it. You can’t just sell to yourself; 95 percent of the world’s market is outside the United States. We know that. We know that U.S. business leaders are some of the finest ambassadors that we have, sharing their practices in transparency, innovation, technology, social responsibility with every country in which they invest. They’re bringing something to the table, and we’re proud of that. And it’s important that we make it easier for foreign business leaders to be able to do the same.

We know that two businesses in two different countries on two different continents have the ability to be able to forge strong bonds – bonds that ultimately serve to enhance the relationship between both businesses’ home countries, and bonds that actually no two governments could quite create in the same way.

We also know that promoting growth in places like the Middle East and North Africa helps to address fundamental concerns about corruption, failed or failing states, failing governance – ills that we know can lead to conflict, instability, and violent extremism. None of us should dare to leave a vacuum for nihilism and extremism of one kind or another to fill.

We’ve also learned that investment, innovation, and trade are not just the principal engines of a strong economy; they are the principal engines of a strong society.

And we all do better when we grow together. At the State Department and throughout the Obama Administration, we are working hard to make sure that is exactly what happens. We’re taking a number of steps to facilitate more trade and investment in both directions, build shared prosperity for the United States and for our allies and partners abroad.

To start with, we’re doing what we can to make it as easy as possible for foreign businesses – like those of you represented here at the summit – to be able to invest in our shores.

As you all know, that is exactly why President Obama created SelectUSA. Now, I know over the course of these days you have heard the success stories over the past few days, and you’ve heard from companies from Switzerland, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, India – almost every corner of the globe, almost every sector of the economy – working with SelectUSA to make the smart choice to expand and open up shop in the United States.

Now, the State Department obviously has a unique role to play in that process. We have expert investment teams at every one of our embassies, led by capable ambassadors and drawing on the talent of our dedicated embassy staff. And I think these folks are as tuned in and as capable as any people I’ve met in the combined art of diplomacy and business anywhere in the world. These teams are the on the ground and they are a ground connection to many of your businesses – the point of entry that the SelectUSA network of investors, government partners, business development organizations – to assist you in planning your investment.

I’ll give you just a couple of examples. Last month, our Ambassador to Switzerland Suzi LeVine brought a 10-person Swiss delegation to the White House, where they together announced plans to invest over $3 billion in the United States in the coming year. Many of those same companies, including Nestle, Buhler, Alevo, all represented here today, also made commitments to expand core components of their successful Swiss apprenticeship programs into their U.S. facilities.

In Ottawa, Ambassador Bruce Heyman and his team recently hosted 60 aspiring entrepreneurs from Canada, from all across Canada, to join with seasoned business mentors to collaborate, learn, and share ideas and skills. And by helping Canada’s budding entrepreneurs learn the basics of founding and launching a business, our mission to Canada is helping to create strong, binational network of future business people and innovators – and driving economic development on both sides of the border.

Now, obviously, we are deeply committed to bringing more international business to America. But I want you to know we’re also dedicated to helping American firms invest in your countries at the same time. From the ambassadors on down, our embassies are working with companies every day to find new opportunities abroad, because this is, obviously, a global marketplace and it’s a voracious one. It’s tough, tough to be in business today. You’ve got to stay on your toes and be on the cutting edge and make decisions fast and without looking back, and move into the future.

And in recent years, we’ve done exactly that. We’ve worked together to bring about billions of dollars in business deals, including the largest single commercial aircraft sale in Boeing’s history to Indonesia Lion Air. Our then-Ambassador Scot Marciel played a critical role in helping Boeing secure that deal, which was ultimately worth almost $23 billion.

Now, one thing I have learned – both during my time in the United States Senate, where I served as chairman of the Small Business Committee and, as Vinai said, on the Finance Committee, and now as Secretary of State, meeting with entrepreneurs all over the world – one thing I’ve learned: Capital chases confidence as well as opportunity. And as we’ve worked hard to enhance the confidence that foreign investors can have in our own marketplaces, we’ve also spent a lot of time working with our partners in governments overseas to help them boost the confidence investors can have in their nations.

That’s why just a week or so ago, 10 days ago, I was in Egypt attending the Egypt Economic Development Conference to underscore our support for international investment in that country’s economy, while working hand in hand with Egyptian leaders to strengthen intellectual property protections; improve accountability, transparency within the country’s business environment. And guess what? In Egypt, President al-Sisi announced a one-stop shop new capital that they’re going to build in Cairo for all of the government operations with enormous opportunity for companies around the world. GE, Coca-Cola – Coca-Cola announced a $500 million investment. We have a total of about 2.2 billion of new investment from the United States in Egypt alone. And that is critical when we don’t have the latitude that we once had from Congress and in our budget to be able to leverage some of those investments ourselves. That’s why foreign policy is economic policy and vice versa.

So we are working hard to open up trade and investment not just in the United States, but everywhere – Power Africa, countless other efforts, the efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We just met with President Ghani. That’s why I just came over here from that meeting. And the number one thing that we can do to expand trade and investment, the number one thing that we can do to drive global growth and prosperity is to finalize the free trade agreements and the bilateral investment treaties that we are currently working on. The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are two of the three biggest free trade agreements ever to be contemplated. And together, they would be an unprecedented step towards a more integrated investment regime that would advance our shared prosperity agenda.

Now I know there are some who don’t believe the hype when it comes to free trade. When I was in the Senate, I think I voted for every single free trade agreement, and I believe there were some hiccups in some of them. And the fact is, despite the opposition that still exists, I know the facts show that every time we have embraced the reality that the world is only becoming more interconnected, every time we have embraced the openness, every time we have moved forward with one of these agreements, we have done better in this country. And I’m not saying there isn’t a disruption that takes place, that some jobs there isn’t any dislocation, which is why we have trade adjustment assistance and other efforts. But every time we’ve opened up international trade and investment, we have seen a massive infusion of new energy, creativity, innovation, and jobs, and Americans have done better.

Now today, the United States – (applause) – today, the United States has free trade agreements with 20 countries around the world, markets that together reach about 700 million people and $7 trillion in GDP. These agreements support hundreds of thousands of good-paying American jobs in the most competitive sectors of growth of our global economy. They have presented American businesses with extensive access to foreign markets, which we think is critical, and they’ve opened our doors and our consumer dollars to foreign firms. The bottom line is these agreements drive the American economy and they drive foreign economies, and that moves all of us together forward at the same time.

The same benefits that we have seen through these agreements await us on completion of the TPP and the TTIP. I know that every one of you is aware of the enormous difference that these agreements would make. Between the two, we’re talking about stronger regional integration, more economic stability in countries that make up two thirds of global GDP, and they are consistent – these agreements – with our shared economic interests and our shared strategic interests, and they are rooted in our common values of how you treat people and what you do to create opportunity. Also, may I add, they will have the strongest combination of both environment and labor standards within the agreements, and countries will sign on to them.

Moreover, we know that fairness and opportunity in a globalized world requires maintaining a level playing field. It requires a rule-based order. And the alternative is letting the rules of the 21st century be sabotaged by falling standards, by the race to the bottom. If we want to end on the mountaintop instead of ending in the deep of the valley, then we have to reject that race to the bottom and we have to be prepared to try to raise the standards, which is what we are fighting for today. We need to make this happen, and I just say to all of you assembled here, we need your help. We can’t do it without you. We need you to be advocating for these landmark agreements wherever and whenever you can. If in the course of being here in the next day or two you happen to be meeting with senators and congressmen, talk to them about it. Your voices are critical to the discussion and we need to hear them loudly and clearly.

Ultimately, we will all benefit from the elimination of non-tariff trade barriers around the world. Better integration of markets in places like the Middle East and Africa into global supply chains could unleash tremendous economic potential. And agreements that establish the right rules of the road are, in the end, the best way to make all of these things happen. The best way for any country to jumpstart its economy is not through a new oil discovery or the installation of a deep water port. It’s through the consistent, vigorous application of the rule of law. If investors are going to risk their capital, they want to know that they’re going to be able to enforce contracts and not be undercut by companies that violate fair labor and even environmental standards or the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. And at the end of the day, the best ideas cannot and should not be contained by borders. I know you’ve had a busy couple of days, and I hope they have indeed been filled with a lot of productive discussions. But all good things, including this speech, have to come to an end. (Laughter.)

So here is my final pitch to you. You’re pretty well aware – you’ve been bombarded by all of the important reasons to select the USA. Some businesses, like Switzerland’s Novartis, choose to invest here because of our universities and our vast scientific and medical talent. Others, like Austria’s Voestalpine – they picked the United States because of the low-cost, abundant energy supply that we now have. Whatever the reason, whatever makes the most business sense to you, you can be confident in the fact that when you select the USA, you are choosing a workforce with some of the world’s most reliable and most productive workers. You are embracing an investment climate that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. Most importantly, you are selecting a partner that is committed to helping you to succeed and knows that we all do better when everyone grows together.

For that reason, your investment here is not just an investment in the United States. It’s an investment in a more prosperous, more secure world. And that has been proven in place after place where millions of young people don’t have the education, want the opportunity, can see what the world has, and see their aspirations left in a square or sometimes, unfortunately, in a bombed-out building or in some other form of violence. That’s the choice here. This is a new day with a new opportunity for business and government to join together in an effort to bring to all of our people in every part of the world the fulfillment of the aspirations which everybody is in touch with and shares today with everybody else. We very much look forward to doing business with you.

My privilege now to welcome back Penny Pritzker, Secretary Pritzker of the Commerce Department for a few final thoughts. Thank you. (Applause.)