Secretary Antony J. Blinken Closing Remarks at the 2023 SelectUSA Investment Summit
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Thank you very much. Good morning, everyone, and it is wonderful to see all of you here, so many of you here. It’s quite an extraordinary turnout. And Don, thank you very much for that introduction and also – and more important – my thanks to you and to my good friend, Secretary Gina Raimondo, and the entire team at the Commerce Department for the work that you’re doing every single day to drive economic opportunity for the American people and for our partners.
So it really is a pleasure for me to be here at the United States’ biggest investment summit with business leaders from every part of the world, including thousands of foreign investors and representatives from the American private sector.
A very warm welcome as well to the hundreds of city and state leaders here with us today. Thank you. Thank you for the critical role that you’re playing in attracting and welcoming new businesses into your communities and reminding private and public investors alike why it is always a good bet to invest in America.
So throughout this week, this group has heard from leaders across the U.S. Government on why the United States is the best place in the world to invest: our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, driving new products and solutions at scale; a world-class system of universities and colleges, fueling ideas and fostering talent; our rule of law, protecting intellectual property, worker rights, fostering growth.
Today, what I thought I’d do is just briefly lay out how we’re building on these advantages to try to make the United States an even stronger and more attractive place to invest, to do business. And the short answer really is this: first and foremost, by investing in ourselves.
We’ve made, as you know, historic investments in our competitiveness with legislation like the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – transformative laws that make America an even better place to do business, with more resilient supply chains, a stronger and more inclusive workforce, more regional innovation and technology hubs, improved infrastructure, including new roads, rail transit, waterways, airports, as well as expanded fast and free broadband across our entire country.
But investment in ourselves is not a zero-sum proposition. Our approach is predicated on building a strong, resilient, and advanced industrial base with our partners around the world. We can’t build everything domestically, nor would we want to, because it’s to our collective benefit to have diversified supply chains across all of our partners.
We’re also trying to modernize our economic partnerships to better position us to address the challenges and opportunities of this moment that we share: from combating the climate crisis, to tackling corruption, to driving sustainable economic growth. New initiatives like the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity will both protect our national and economic security, and that of our partners – creating closer connections between our countries, more opportunities for our businesses to invest and to thrive.
And we’re using existing bodies to produce results for our people, like the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, through which we’re coordinating our industrial strategies to be complementary to one another.
This approach is delivering results.
Since 2021, the private sector has invested more than $435 billion in businesses across the United States. A third of the investments announced since August have involved a foreign investor. There’s also record demand for our international business leaders to come to the United States, and that’s something that my department is working to facilitate.
So far this fiscal year, we have already issued nearly double the number of business visas that we did at this point last year, and we’ve also surpassed the number of business visas that were issued before the COVID-19 pandemic – so that entrepreneurs and investors can attend professional conferences, negotiate contracts, work with their associates, do the countless things that they do to run successful businesses.
As has been very evident this week, there is tremendous pent-up demand for more business travel, so we’re devoting more resources and streamlining our processes to help you secure business and work visas for yourself and for your employees.
Our Bureau of Consular Affairs stands ready to help. We’ve made it easier to apply for these visas, including by launching the Business Visa Center. That’s a one-stop-shop to help international investors access visas for business travel. Later this year, we’ll be piloting a program to make it easier to renew some of our temporary work visas from within the United States instead of having to traveling abroad. That’s going to save time and it’s going to reduce uncertainty for employers.
If you go back to 2011, since then this conference has helped bring in more than $80 billion in private investment. It’s supported more than 60,000 jobs in the United States while helping thousands of foreign businesses and investors enter the U.S. market, to the benefit of themselves, their economies, their fellow citizens back home.
These partnerships have also helped us advance critical foreign policy priorities – something that needless to say I’m focused on.
At last year’s SelectUSA Summit, the CEO of Taiwan-based semiconductor manufacturer GlobalWafers, Doris Hsu, announced plans for a new state-of-the-art facility in Sherman, Texas. It will be the largest facility of its kind in the United States. GlobalWafers broke ground last December, and once completed, this $5 billion facility will support more than 1,500 jobs in the United States. But it will also fill a critical gap in our advanced semiconductor supply chain – crucial to preserving our competitiveness on a technology that is foundational to the 21st century economy.
Or consider the example of Delfast, a Ukrainian e-bike company that helped us confront the climate crisis by creating a zero-carbon transportation option. Thanks to the connections that they made with American partners at the SelectUSA Summit last year, as well as ongoing support from our embassy in Ukraine, Delfast was able to open its first store in the United States in September 2021 in Whittier, California. They are growing very quickly in the United States, with 70 percent of their customer base located in this country. In fact, Delfast has been so successful that they’ve announced plans to invest another $25 million in their U.S. operations over the next year, next several years. That will create another 200 jobs in Whittier. And we’re joined by representatives from dozens of Ukrainian startups similarly taking advantage of SelectUSA to thrive.
Now, I know Delfast just won the premier award that we issue from this gathering. My only disappointment was that in the long journey from my car through the back stage all the way to the stage, I didn’t get a chance to use one of their e-bikes, but maybe on the way out.
GlobalWafers, Delfast, hundreds of other companies have used this summit to gain the connections and the know-how to enter the United States market. The State Department stands ready to help your company do the same thing.
We have 200 Economics and Business Affairs officers in Washington, D.C., and 1,500 economic officers in our embassies and consulates around the world, across more than 150 countries. All have the responsibility to help foreign businesses find the strongest investment opportunities here in the United States. They, along with our colleagues in the Department of Commerce’s Foreign Commercial Service, will be able to help you navigate legal frameworks in the United States, connect you with potential partners, and answer any questions that you’ve got along the way.
So to our international visitors here today: The United States is very much open for business, and we hope you choose to invest your time and your talents with us.
And to the U.S. businesses that are here today: We are standing by to continue supporting everything that you’re doing as you grow your businesses both here in the United States and around the world.
If the innovation, the dynamism on display here this week is any indication, we have a lot to look forward to, a lot to be optimistic about. So to each and every one of you, thank you for being here. Thank you for taking part. We look forward to doing a lot of good business together in the years ahead. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.