Remarks by Ambassador Douglas A. Silliman on U.S. Real Estate Fund Manager Trade Mission Opening

September 23, 2014

September 23, 2014; 0930
Jumeirah Resort Hotel

Good morning everyone.

I know that it is still morning, and I have not entirely woken up yet, so I wanted to spice up my opening and get this session off to a strong start with some of the investment philosophy of no-nonsense Canadian tough guy businessman, Kevin O’Leary.

O’Leary is famous for throwing hand grenades of advice on money and business, such as:

Don’t cry about money, it never cries for you.

Here’s how I think of my money — as soldiers — I send them out to war every day.

I’m not trying to make friends, I’m trying to make money.  If you want a friend, get a dog.

But there is a quote from O’Leary that stands apart and is particularly appropriate for this gathering.

When you’re an investor, you can look at the quantitative and qualitative elements of an investment, but there’s a third aspect:  What you feel in your gut.

That is why we are all here today.

It is easy to get the numbers on investment opportunities.  You have those already, even though I am still going to force you to listen to a few of them later in my remarks.

It is much harder to get that “feeling in your gut.”

And this is what your gut should feel:  that the United States is “Open for Business.”

That simple phrase captures the strength of our economic recovery, the desire of our priate sector to find good international partners, and the essence of the U.S. government’s focus on inward investment.

That’s why I’m thrilled to be here today and enthusiastic about having our third U.S. private equity delegation in Kuwait to begin more productive and mutually beneficial Kuwaiti-American investment partnerships.

Our guests represent a mix of fund managers with diverse investment strategies, sector foci, and geographic preferences.  All have the performance history and sound investor liquidity strategies that should interest you.

An event such as this is a collaborative effort by many partners.  I want to acknowledge:

  • The representatives of U.S. firms who have traveled here
  • JHL Ventures, who worked closely with the U.S. Embassy team
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington
  • And especially the attendees from Kuwait financial institutions

So, let me talk a bit about why you should be investing in the United States now.

First, I’ll give you some of the quantitative analysis O’Leary wants you to look at:

  • Bilateral trade crossed $15 billion last year, nearly tripling in the last five years.  This means 12,000 jobs back home in the U.S.
  • Kuwait ranks as the 17th fastest growing source of foreign direct investment in the United States.
  • Despite the world economic doldrums, the U.S. economy has expanded for the last 5 years.
  • U.S. exports are up, reaching a record $2.3 trillion last year.
  • The deficit has been cut in half.
  • The housing market is coming back.
  • And American businesses have created 9.2 million jobs in the past 4 years.

As for qualitative analysis:

  • America’s underlying fundamental business values of
  • competitiveness,
  • innovation, and
  • entrepreneurship

are solid.

  • The United States attracts more foreign investment than any other country, with a total FDI stock of more than $2.8 trillion — including $230.8 billion just in 2013.

This will continue, and should provide Kuwaiti investors with confidence.

The reasons are clear: We have

  • a skilled and educated workforce,
  • abundant and affordable energy,
  • sound and stable financial markets,
  • a transparent legal system, and
  • excellent intellectual property protection.

Our cracker-jack Commercial Counselor, Dao Le, is one of the reasons for our success with Kuwait.  He led from Kuwaiti last year the GCC’s largest investor delegation to President Obama’s SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington.

Dao, his staff and I stand ready to assist in promoting opportunities for U.S. business in Kuwait and in connecting our Kuwaiti friends to attractive opportunities for investment and expansion in the United States.

That is the reason you are all here today:  to find solid investment opportunities.

It is your networking and discussions today that will give you the gut feeling about those investment opportunities.

And we think your gut will tell you to write the check and invest in the United States.

So happy hunting, and best wishes for a successful and profitable event.