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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Department of Commerce's Investment Advisory Council


Thank you for the kind introduction and welcome to the second meeting of your Council. Unfortunately, due to COVID, we were unable do a lot of good things over the past six months, and I especially regret the cancellation of the SelectUSA Investment Summit. Since the start of my tenure at Commerce, the Summit has been a highlight for me each year. I was also looking forward to your second meeting at that time. I’m glad it’s finally been rescheduled.

Thankfully, the U.S. economy is experiencing a strong rebound, and our country remains the best place in the world for investment. This past June, the Kearney FDI Confidence Index ranked the United States as the number-one investment destination among CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies. And in its most recent “Annual Report on Global Local Trends,” IBM notes that the United States is the “top destination country globally for estimated jobs.” According to IBM, the United States far outpaces Mexico, India, and China in the next three highest positions.

So, we start from a strong position, and we want it to be stronger. A lot stronger.

Let me mention just a few of things the Trump administration has done to improve the investment climate of the United States.

The first and most important was to make our tax system competitive with our global rivals. We have eliminated regulations that discouraged investment in new U.S. factories and equipment.

We have created 8,000 Opportunity Zones to reward investment and hiring of workers in blighted regions of the country. We created the National Council for the American Worker. It has now received pledges from more than 430 companies to institute over 16 million new apprenticeship and training programs for the skilled workers needed for an advanced digital economy.

We are rebuilding the defense industrial base, and the nation’s ability to produce PPE and pharmaceuticals.

We have enforced our trade laws, and have confronted foreign countries that have been cheating in international trade for decades.

It goes without saying that no other President has ever attempted to change any of these policies, much less all of them. But now we need the private sector to step up.

America’s great multinational companies know that the countries in which they mass produce their products do not contribute to the welfare of the world. They continue to steal IP. They force transfer of proprietary technologies.

China in particular has become a bully in its neighborhood. It is destroying the freedoms of millions of people living in Hong Kong; engages in large-scale ethnic cleansing; is arresting journalists; spies on its students overseas; and continues to scrub the Internet, and not allow our best technology companies to operate there. It is attempting to steal our most import vaccine research.

And, worst of all, China concealed the true nature of a deadly novel virus, allowing tens of thousands of people to fly out Wuhan during the initial stages of the outbreak. China is responsible for creating a worldwide pandemic that destroyed the livelihoods of millions people around world, and has killed hundreds of thousands. And the country shows no remorse for its recklessness.

In fact, it is using the pandemic to gain further advantage over its economic competitors by providing its state-owned “national champions” with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of subsidies to gain further advantage over its competitors.

Now the U.S. private sector must step up. We need you, as members of the IAC, to provide us with additional tools and recommendations on what is required for U.S. companies to reshore their Chinese production and invest in locations throughout our country. We need concrete proposals on what it will take for dozens of industries to end their reliance on China for critical inputs and end products. Countries that do not follow the global rules of free, fair and reciprocal trade should not be rewarded with unfettered access to the U.S., and under this Administration, they aren’t. 

Today, the Trump administration is working with Congress on creating incentive programs to attract investments in high-tech manufacturing capacity and new semiconductor fabrication plants. We appreciate the IAC’s perspective on this proposal, and we seek your ideas on how it can be broadened to include other critical and strategic industries.

I also look forward to considering your ultimate recommendations regarding investments in our infrastructure, and in innovation centers outside of our existing technology corridors. An annual investment award bestowed upon a company and an EDO at the SelectUSA Summit is warmly welcomed, and I encourage you to develop that proposal. Your thoughts about what we can do specifically at the Commerce Department to boost investment in U.S. productive capacity are most appreciated.

Thank you, again, for volunteering your time in the IAC, and providing us with the guidance we need to ensure the continued prosperity of our nation. We commend your deliberations on these crucial priorities and encourage you to move forward with actionable recommendations to achieve them.