U.S. Commerce chief pitches foreign investment, overseas exports

CU-ICAR Executive Director Fred Cartwright, left, and Clemson President James P. Clements, right, show U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker the Deep Orange vehicle. (Photo provided)
CU-ICAR Executive Director Fred Cartwright, left, and Clemson President James P. Clements, right, show U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker the Deep Orange vehicle. (Photo provided)

Staff Report
Published April 2, 2014

GREER, S.C. — U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker hailed BMW’s plans to invest $1 billion and add the X7 sports activity vehicle to its U.S. plant’s lineup as further proof of a renaissance in American manufacturing.

On Friday, Prizker joined top BMW executives and state officials in celebrating the German carmaker’s announcement that it plans to add 800 jobs and boost the plant’s annual production capacity by 50% to 450,000 vehicles.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

“There has never been a better time to invest in America,” said Pritzker, who took over the agency last June. “In fact, the Commerce Department just released data showing that the value of foreign direct investment in the United States ended last year at a record $3.2 trillion.”

The plusses for foreign investment in the U.S. includes its strong rule of law, intellectual property protections, stable financial markets, low-cost and abundant energy, vibrant supply chains, world-class universities, strong consumer base and trade agreements that provide access to millions more consumers, Pritzker said.

“And, of course, the ingenuity and dedication of American workers,” Pritzker said. “All of these factors are driving investment to the United States, and creating a renaissance in American manufacturing.”

Last week the Commerce Department released data from the 2012 economic census that shows that payroll-per-employee in the transportation industry — including automakers — have surpassed pre-recession levels of 2007, Pritzker said.

Pritzker also pointed out that 2013 was a fourth consecutive record year of U.S. exports, which topped $2.3 trillion. South Carolina’s share of that total was a record $25 billion.

“This plant is contributing to this growth,” said Pritzker, whose family owns Hyatt Hotels Corp. “In fact, more than half of the cars built here are shipped outside of our borders, making BMW one of America’s top auto exporters.

“I believe that the key to successfully investing in the United States is partnership. And BMW provides an excellent case study for building strong partnerships.”

The partnership between BMW and South Carolina also offers an example of the “deep commercial and economic ties between the United States and Germany,” Pritzker said.

She noted both countries are working to remove regulatory hurdles to trade through the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The agreement is being negotiated by the U.S. and European Union.

The proposed agreement promises to boost South Carolina’s exports to Europe by 187% and create 10,000 new jobs.

Germany and the United Kingdom rank as South Carolina’s No. 2 and No. 5 customers, respectively, having bought $5.1 billion in exports in 2012, according to the latest figures from the International Trade Administration.

Overall, EU countries purchased $7.4 billion of S.C. goods, about 29% of the state’s total exports, according to a study supporting the trade pact.

If the agreement is fully implemented, South Carolina could see exports of motor vehicles climb by $27.3 billion, chemicals by $615 million, other machinery by $337 million, and metals and metal products by $327 million, the report said.

The pact is designed to promote economic growth and create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Research shows the agreement could boost the EU’s economy by $162.3 billion, the U.S. economy by $121.7 billion and the world’s economy by $135.3 billion.

Work on the pact began in July with a fourth round of talks launched in March.


Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed South Carolina’s total share of U.S. exports. The corrected version appears above.

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