U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues

U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. James K. Jackson. March 21, 2017

The United States is the largest investor abroad and the largest recipient of direct investment in the world. For some Americans, the national gains attributed to investing overseas are offset by such perceived losses as displaced U.S. workers and lower wages. Some observers believe U.S. firms invest abroad to avoid U.S. labor unions or high U.S. wages, however, 74% of the accumulated U.S. foreign direct investment is concentrated in high income developed countries, who are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Even more striking is the fact that the share of investment going to developing countries has fallen in recent years. Most economists conclude that direct investment abroad as a whole does not lead to fewer jobs or lower incomes overall for Americans and that the majority of jobs lost among U.S. manufacturing firms over the past decade reflect a broad restructuring of U.S. manufacturing industries responding primarily to domestic economic forces.

[PDF format, 15 pages, 744.57 KB].

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