Florence, March 1, 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
Buongiorno a tutti.
It’s a real pleasure for me to back in Firenze – a city I visited twice in my first 100 days. I am particularly pleased to be here in front of you: We have over 75 delegates from Italian companies as well as representatives from 17 U.S. states present. Our shared goal is to find ways to strengthen our bilateral economic ties.
Thank you to Confindustria Firenze president Salvadori (Sal-vah-DOR-ee) for hosting today’s SelectUSA seminar. President Salvadori and I just spoke, and we agree that there is space to improve the already impressive economic ties between the United States and Tuscany – particularly by attracting more Italian investment into the United States.
We are here for two major reasons today. First, we want to create networking opportunities for Italian entrepreneurs and experts from 17 U.S. states – states whose combined GDP makes up nearly 50 percent of the U.S. economy.
The second purpose is to demonstrate how the U.S. Government and the U.S. diplomatic mission in Italy, through the SelectUSA initiative, can streamline and clarify the process for Italian companies – large and small – to invest in the United States.
We are thrilled that Italian Foreign Direct Investment, or “FDI,” in the United States has grown dramatically over the last five years. The trend is positive, but the amount is still smaller than it should be for a country with whom we have such a strong bilateral relationship. We want to see these numbers grow.
Italian companies are very welcome in the United States. They are greatly appreciated for their desire to integrate and for the contributions they make to the economic and social fabric of the communities in which they invest.
It was fantastic to hear this morning from several local Italian companies that have made successful investments in the United States. This is only a sample, though, of the many companies from around Italy who have been welcomed into the United States.
These Italian companies – large and small – have made investments that are good for their bottom line. Their U.S. affiliates have created more than 75,000 well-paid American jobs.
The United States is a great market for Italian investment. Some of the recent actions by the President and Congress, like reforming the corporate tax system and reducing regulations, are making it even better for businesses.
It is easy to do business in the United States. We have a fast, predictable judicial system, deep and liquid financial markets, a well-educated workforce, and access to some of the best intellectual property in the world. We have a huge consumer market (over 325 million consumers) and a level of consumer confidence not seen in 17 years.
Today’s gathering will hopefully generate momentum towards the fifth SelectUSA Summit, which will take place near Washington, DC from June 20-22, 2018. For the last two years, the Italian delegation to the Summit has been the biggest in Europe: We want to keep that trend going!
The June Summit is the most important global gathering dedicated to promoting investment in the United States. Last year more than 1,200 companies from around the world, representatives from 51 U.S. states and territories, and four U.S. Cabinet secretaries were present. It is an opportunity not to be missed for all those who are looking to make a new investment, or expand an existing one.
My team at the Embassy in Rome and the Consulates in Florence, Milan, and Naples are organizing the Italian delegation to the Summit and are at your disposal to answer any questions or provide any assistance.
I know better than to stand between hungry businesspeople and their lunch, so I’ll close here. Thank you very much for your participation today. I look forward to meeting you personally and working with you as your investment plans develop.