“As both the world's largest investor and the world's largest recipient of investment, the US has a key stake in promoting an open investment regime. The US unequivocally supports international investment in this country and is equally committed to securing fair, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment for US investors abroad,” said president George Bush. “Both inbound and outbound investment benefits our country by stimulating growth, creating jobs, enhancing productivity and fostering competitiveness that allows our companies and their workers to prosper at home and in international markets. My administration is committed to ensuring that the US continues to be the most attractive place in the world to invest.”

The Invest in America initiative is a major shift in US investment promotion strategy – which up until now has not been the preserve of the federal government. It will, among other things, make the attraction of FDI projects one of the priorities of the US Foreign & Commercial Service (FCS) officials of the International Trade Administration (ITA) and other diplomats serving at US embassies and consulates around the world.

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In the past, the FCS officers were tasked primarily with US export promotion and other work related to trade policies, rather than the attraction of foreign investment.

The initiative also establishes the policy framework, authorisation, and new direction for Commerce officials based in the US to collaborate more closely with state and local economic development agencies, government leaders and business leaders as they compete for foreign investment into their regions.

Under secretary of international affairs at the US Department of Commerce Franklin Lavin is in charge of this initiative, which is led by director Aaron Brickman. This policy has also been promoted recently in speeches by Treasury secretary Hank Paulson among others.

One factor behind this initiative seems to be concern about the potential misperception in other countries about how open the US economy is to foreign investment after highly publicised controversies during the 2006 election cycle about the Dubai Ports deal and the interagency review process known as CFIUS – the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. CFIUS routinely screens foreign direct investments for considerations such as national security risks, particularly when such investments are led or potentially directed by foreign governments.