December 17, 2013

The SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit is a first-of-its-kind, national-level engagement intended to connect businesses and investors from around the world with the U.S. economic development organizations at the state, regional, and local levels. The SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit was hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, and SelectUSA, as a part of U.S. government-wide initiative to promote direct investment in the United States.

The Summit brought together top-level corporate executives and investors from the U.S. and around the world, economic development organizations, representatives from across the country, senior White House and Administration officials, subject matter experts, and service providers. The Ministers of Labor, Commerce, Treasury, as well as Foreign Minister Kerry were among the participants.

Approximately 600 business representatives from 58 different countries attended the summit. The last-minute surprise was the participation of President Obama. During his 15 minute long speech, President Obama made it clear that the U.S warmly welcomes investors to operate in the U.S.’s transparent, stable, and open economy. He mentioned that the U.S. is not just the world’s largest market, but it is becoming more competitive. One of the most important points President Obama made during his speech was inclusion of U.S. ambassadors’ efforts in expanding economic mission overseas. From now on, the U.S. ambassadors around the world will also be responsible for encouraging foreign businesses to invest in the U.S. Moreover, President Obama announced that officials at the highest levels are going to work even harder to make the case for investing in the U.S. so that business owners can find ways to invest quicker, open facilities faster, and create jobs. The CEOs of Walmart and BWM North America were also among the speakers in the summit.

There are numerous reasons why the U.S. is still very desirable among investors and entrepreneurs. Just to name a few; everybody is equal before the law and is entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law, economic stabilization, low cost of energy and logistics, etc. It is important to note that U.S. still remains the world’s largest recipient of direct foreign investment. Today, companies like BMW, Caterpillar and so many energy companies have production facilities located in the U.S. On the other hand, the U.S. has the largest amount of foreign students from around the world; and therefore has more than enough qualified workers waiting for job opportunities. As the U.S. officials at the highest levels mentioned, the U.S. economy is growing. By the end of 2013, there will be 800,000 new houses built and moreover; by the year 2035 the U.S. will become fully energy self-sufficient.

Small businesses will also benefit from the U.S.’s new agenda on foreign investment. In fact, about half of the U.S. small businesses today are started by immigrants. All the speakers had mentioned that immigration system has to be fixed as soon as possible so that more talented workers and entrepreneurs from around the world can invest in the U.S.

During the summit, I explored the possibility of a free trade agreement between Turkey and the U.S. with the U.S. officials. The officials I talked with have been following Turkey’s integration process to the European Union, and they said that the E.U. process has to be finalized first in order to talk about a free trade agreement between Turkey and the U.S. Therefore, a free trade agreement does not seem likely at least in the short term.

Remzi Guvenc Kulen, Esq.