Published November 1972 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd U.S. Attracts Foreign Investors Most Americans are probably aware that U.S. business has invested billions of dollars in plants and operations abroad. But many may not be aware that capital from abroad is flowing into the United States in significantly increasing amounts to set up and operate foreign-owned business and industry in this country. The trend is generally held to be a healthy one. Indeed, some 35 states - including neighboring Virginia, which is spending $160,000 a year on the effort and maintaining an office in Brussels-are already seeking to attract this type of investment in reverse. It is believed by many that West Virginia, which needs new employers and payrolls, might well benefit by concerted action in this direction. South Carolina has shown what can be done. More than twenty businesses owned by companies in seven foreign countries have located in the Spartanburg area alone in recent years. One of them is a $150 million West German polyester-fiber plant which employs 2,000 persons. In all, some 17 or more West German firms are now doing business in the state. Nationwide, more than 700 businesses owned by foreign interests are now operating in the U.S. They make such products as Dutch-owned Shell gasoline, Swiss-owned Nestle chocolate, Canadian owned Carlingber, and Italian- owned Olivetti business machines. Even a Class "A" U.S. baseball team in California is owned by Japanese interests. Investment by foreign companies and individuals in the U.S. is now put at about $48.5 billion, with some $30 billion of this amount accounted for by foreign holdings in the securities of American corporations and government bonds. Britain, Canada, The Netherlands, and Switzerland are among the leading investors. Knowledgeable economists expect foreign investment in our country to increase faster than U.S. investments abroad. The U.S. Department of Commerce has set up a program to foster this trend, working in cooperation with the states. In West Virginia, Japanese industrialists have a solid interest in our metallurgical coal, for which they offer a prime market; and there is some other foreign investment, including an Italian owned chemical plant in Wayne County. But there has been all too little development of this sort. Hopefully, that situation may change in the future. Foreign investment in our country, where it occurs, can mean new jobs, more money in circulation, possibly new products, and - very importantly -- stronger ties for world peace.