Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
President Barack Obama meets with business leaders about creating and investing in jobs in the U.S., Tuesday, May 20, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington. From left are: the president; Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of the Americas, Ford Motor Company; and Sanjay K. Jha, CEO, Globalfoundries. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Obama hosts CEOs whose firms are investing in U.S.
Pitchman » President cites low energy costs, a productive workforce and a “dynamic economy” as major U.S. attractions.
First Published May 20 2014 10:57 am • Last Updated May 20 2014 04:56 pm

Washington • It’s the yin and the yang of the U.S. corporate climate.

At the White House, President Barack Obama played the role of business pitchman Tuesday, saluting executives whose companies have chosen to gain or expand their footprint in the United States.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

In Congress the same day, a group of 14 Democratic senators introduced legislation to keep U.S. firms from going in the other direction, using foreign acquisitions to avoid paying higher U.S. corporate tax rates.

Obama welcomed leaders of 11 foreign and U.S.-based firms that have opened new plants in the United States or brought back overseas operations.

The president cited low energy costs, a productive workforce and a "dynamic economy" as major U.S. attractions for corporate investment.

"We want folks to know this is a great place to do business," he told the executives, including Ericsson North America CEO Angel Ruiz, Lufthansa chairman and CEO Carsten Spohr, who met just outside the Oval Office in the White House Roosevelt Room. "We don’t always do what it takes to go after business around the world and make sure that they know the benefits of investing in the largest market on Earth."

The roundtable discussion by the executives and top White House officials was part of a week devoted to promoting foreign investments in the United States.

Obama is showcasing the effect of an improving economy on job growth during a congressional election year that finds the public still anxious about employment and financial wellbeing.

Obama’s attention to the influx of foreign business coincided with new concern in Congress with a trend of U.S. companies seeking to set up overseas headquarters in part to avoid U.S. tax rates. The Senate legislation, which faces long odds in a divided Congress, would set a two-year moratorium on the ability of corporations to acquire offshore companies in order to shift their addresses to low-tax foreign countries.

The practice, which drew recent prominence when Pfizer Inc. sought to take over British drugmaker AstraZeneca, can cost the U.S. government billions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

story continues below
story continues below

"These transactions are about tax avoidance, plain and simple," said Sen. Carl Levin, the main sponsor of the Senate legislation and the chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Levin’s bill is similar to an Obama administration proposal in its 2015 budget to dissuade companies from making such transactions. The Treasury estimated that the change would generate $17 billion in tax revenue over 10 years.

Seeking to attract business to the U.S., White House advisers said an effort by Obama to streamline U.S. outreach to foreign companies has resulted in $18 billion in new business investments in the United States in 17 different states and territories. They said the program, called SelectUSA, has helped nearly 500 businesses since October.

Foreign direct investments last year rebounded, from $166 billion in 2012 to $193 billion in 2013, still far short of the $310 billion in 2008.

The executives invited to Tuesday’s White House round-table discussion were from Ford, chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries, toy maker K’nex, South Korea’s Hankook Tire, German airline Lufthansa, Swedish technology firm Ericsson, Danish biotechnology company Novozymes, Canadian apparel maker Richelieu, Belgian materials technology company Umicore, French high-tech company Safran and Switzerland-based Zurich Insurance Group.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.