U.S. President Barack Obama is expanding the nation's efforts to draw foreign investment by clearing away red tape and having U.S. diplomats court investors.
Mr. Obama says the United States will coordinate efforts at the federal level to attract investment in a way it has not before. Until now, such missions to attract offshore investments have typically been left to governors of the 50 U.S. states and mayors of big cities.
The White House says it will use the SelectUSA program to make job-creating foreign investment a priority at its embassies overseas. The focus initially would be on 32 key regional markets that already account for 90 percent of foreign investment in the United States.
The president and key government economic officials are hosting the country's first Investment Summit Thursday and Friday in Washington, an event that has attracted 1,200 visitors from 60 countries.
During the gathering, Mr. Obama cited numerous foreign companies that have opened U.S. operations. He said he wants foreign business executives to know there is "no better place in the world to do business" than the United States.
"History shows over the last two centuries that when you bet on America, that bet pays off."
As recently as 2000, the U.S. attracted 37 percent of the world's foreign investment, a share that has fallen to 17 percent. Foreign companies made $166 billion in direct investments in the U.S. last year, a 28 percent drop from 2011.
The U.S. economy is advancing at slightly more than a 2 percent annual pace. But even as it edges ahead, the country's jobless rate has by its historical standards remained at an elevated figure, 7.2 percent in September. Some economists say the U.S. government's recent 16-day partial shutdown will take $24 billion out of the economy in the last three months of the year.