The United States - the world's largest and most dynamic economy - welcomes foreign direct investment (FDI). Furthermore, the United States recognizes FDI's positive impact on economic growth and job creation. U.S. affiliates of foreign companies employ more than five million U.S. workers and support millions more indirectly.
There is no question that investing in the United States brings with it many advantages. With a population of more than 300 million and the largest economy in the world, the United States is the most important market for any global company. The American work force ranks as one of the best educated, most productive, and most innovative in the world. As a place to do business, the United States offers a predictable and transparent legal system, outstanding infrastructure, and access to the world's most lucrative consumer market.
The U.S. government is committed to pursuing economic growth, as is evidenced by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) passed by Congress in February 2009. ARRA created several new government incentive programs to boost economic growth. U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms are welcome to participate in these programs alongside U.S. companies. This policy of equal treatment further burnishes America's reputation for openness to foreign investment.
Advantages of Investing in the United States
Additional advantages that foreign companies reap when investing in the Unites States include:
Economy: The United States has the largest and most technologically advanced economy in the world, with a per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of approximately $48,000. The U.S. systems of regulation and taxation give foreign investors unparalleled operational freedom. In addition, the United States consistently ranks at or near the top of most major indicators of an attractive business and investment climate. The United States is the most consistently competitive, innovative, and open economy in the world.
Consumer Market: Global companies operate in the United States to be closer to their suppliers and customers in a dynamic market. The United States accounted for 42 percent of the global consumer goods market in 2007. U.S. citizens have a per capita disposable income of approximately $35,000. In addition, the United States maintains free-trade agreements with 17 partner countries that have a combined GDP of approximately $5.1 trillion, giving foreign investors in the United States unparalleled access to diverse markets.
Research and Development: The United States is the center for global innovation and ranks first for venture capital availability. The nation is responsible for 40 percent of total research and development expenditures worldwide. Furthermore, the United States employs nearly three-fourths of the living Nobel laureates, publishes more than 60 percent of the world's "highly cited publications," and is responsible for nearly 40 percent of the "patented new technology" created within the OECD.
Technology: American companies are leaders in technological advances and innovation. U.S. markets are open to products, ideas, and - above all - innovation. Among BusinessWeek's Top 100 Information Technology companies, 44 are U.S. firms. The Economist ranked the United States as the most e-ready country in the world in 2008. In the 2008-2009 Global Competitiveness Index, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States first for innovation, labor market efficiency, and sophistication of business operations/strategy.
Intellectual Property Rights Protections: Investors from around the world come to the United States to invest in research and development and to commercialize the results of their creativity. The United States provides a strong regime of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. Of the 167,000 patents granted by the U.S. Patent Office in 2009, just over 50 percent of the applications originated in a foreign country.
Education: Six of the top 10 universities and five of the best full-time MBA programs in the world are in the United States. There are more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the United States. Furthermore, more than 671,000 international students were enrolled in American institutions in the 2008-2009 academic year. Many community colleges have tailored training programs to investors who locate facilities in their area. Federal, state, and local governments also spend billions of dollars on work-force training each year.
Productive Work Force: Investors in the United States gain access to a highly productive and adaptable work force. The United States leads the world in labor productivity per person employed, valued at $63,885 per year. According to the International Labor Organization, the "productivity gap between the United States and most other developed economies continues to widen."
Transportation/Infrastructure: The United States has the largest paved roadway system, railway network, and number of airports in the world. Three of the top-10 airports by air cargo volume are in the United States, including the busiest cargo airport in the world. The United States is also home to some of the world's busiest international bulk cargo and container ports.
Hospitable Society: The United States is a friendly and hospitable country, where many foreigners live and invest. As a nation of immigrants, the United States boasts some of the largest cultural diasporas in the world.
Invest in America
In March 2007, the U.S. Department of Commerce created Invest in America to promote and support foreign investment in the United States. As Invest in America endeavors to strengthen the U.S. investment climate, it also promotes the United States as great place to do business. Invest in America reaches out to foreign governments and investors, addresses business climate concerns in the United States, and complements state and local efforts to attract foreign investment.
Investing in the United States is straightforward. Unlike some countries, the United States does not maintain a screening body for foreign investments. Investments are reviewed only under limited circumstances, where national security may be involved. With few exceptions, foreign companies enjoy the same treatment as domestic companies in the United States.
More specifically, Invest in America welcomes all inquiries and can serve as a foreign investor's first point of contact for an investment in the United States. Invest in America is part of the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (ITA), which maintains a global network in 77 countries and works to improve the global business environment and helps U.S. firms to compete and win both at home and abroad. Initial investor outreach may result in gaining information about the United States economy as a whole, making contacts with appropriate federal agencies, or describing U.S. policies and basic investment procedures.
Invest in America provides potential investors an investment contact list encompassing the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. This guide provides a person designated by each state's governor to field international investment inquiries.
Individual state governments manage investment transaction details and can provide individualized services to potential foreign investors. States compete for investments on a global scale, employing highly skilled investment officials and maintaining field offices in major business centers throughout the world. This decentralized system provides foreign investors the individualized attention they need.
Invest in America also maintains a list of federal incentives and programs available to investors, both foreign and domestic. This document includes information regarding program guidelines, points of contact, and additional information about the agencies offering the programs. It is regularly updated by Invest in America staff.
Capital goes where it is well treated. In addition to helping foreign investors locate in the United States, Invest in America addresses business climate concerns raised by the international investment community. Invest in America works across various agencies to act as a voice within the federal bureaucracy to ensure the United States remains the premier location for foreign direct investment. Through its ombudsman role, Invest in America also supports potential and current foreign investors with regard to difficulties encountered within the federal bureaucracy.