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White House Launches Push to Attract More Foreign Investment

The United States has traditionally been the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investments (or FDI) - but that is changing. Since 2000, when the U.S. held nearly 40 percent of the world’s foreign investments, its share of capital inflows has declined to just 17 percent. The White House hopes to reverse the decline - launching an aggressive campaign Thursday to attract more foreign investment to the United States.

More than $160 billion in foreign investments flowed into the U.S. economy last year. It's a sizeable sum - one that boosts U.S. productivity and creates new jobs.

But in this interconnected global economy, foreign investors are increasingly putting their money elsewhere.
That’s one reason why Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker welcomed more than 1200 guests to Washington for the first Select USA Summit.

“Business leaders from 58 countries and across the United States are here today. A warm welcome to all of you from all of us in the Obama administration," said Pritzker.

The sales pitch comes as foreign investment in the U.S. continues to slide. Down 28 percent in 2012 from the year before - it’s on pace for another big decline this year.

Economists say the reasons are many - from the slowdown in emerging markets, to the political dysfunction in Washington.

Still, among the advanced economies, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says the United States boasts the most favorable business climate.

“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 economy," said Lew.

The Summit represents a new push by the White House to remind investors that the U.S. is open for business. And it was an opportunity seized by President Barack Obama.

“I want more American products being sold in your countries, and I want your companies investing more here in the United States of America," said President Obama.

To do that, the White House has launched a four-pronged effort to persuade international investors to buy American - from coordinating assistance, through U.S. embassies, to cutting red tape for direct investment.

“You should find out why there’s no substitute for those proud words Made in America. We are open for business and we’re looking forward to partnering with all of you in the months and years ahead. Thank you very much," said Obama.