USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly was one of just a few business panelists at the annual conference of the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, which took place November 13-14 in New York. The annual Columbia University conference has become a major gathering place for investment policy experts.
According to Donnelly, the roster of speakers at this year’s conference “was again tilted toward academics, NGOs and government officials – some, unfortunately, with noticeable anti-business biases when it comes to foreign investment policy issues.”
The topic this this year was “Investment Incentives: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Assessing the Costs, Benefits and Options for Policy Reform.” On the opening panel, Donnelly delivered a message on the important role FDI, both inward and outbound, can play in a country’s (or a state’s) strategy for economic development and job creation.
“Well-targeted incentives can help attract sought-after investors and bolster national competitiveness,” Donnelly said. “Not all investment incentives are good or accomplish their objectives but, similarly, not all incentives are somehow, as some critics charge, wasteful or an abuse of scarce taxpayer funds.”
Donnelly’s said investment incentives tend to be overrated as a driver of investment location decisions. “Internationally, major U.S. businesses’ investment decisions are generally driven far more by market realities, location, sound economic policies, rule of law, and political stability than by the size of an incentive package.”
Several business representatives in the audience commended Donnelly afterward for scoring at least a few points for the business team in FDI policy discussions.
State of play in the U.S.-EU negotiations
While in New York, Donnelly also met with a number of foreign journalists on the business community’s outlook on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, in a program organized with the State Department’s New York Foreign Press Center. Click here to read a transcript.
With tariffs between the United States and the European Union already relatively low, discussion centered on non-tariff barriers, regulatory cooperation and conditions for investment. Donnelly said American business hoped that trade and investment liberalization via the TTIP, as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, would provide a much-needed spur to liberalization at the global level via the World Trade Organization.
Donnelly also called out regulatory cooperation as an area of potentially large gains for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, identifying auto safety standards and chemicals regulation as examples of areas where commonly agreed or mutually recognized standards could significantly ease cross-border business between the world’s two largest economies.
Staff contacts: Shaun Donnelly