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Barclays Selects Texas for New Tech Service Center

Barclays Selects Texas for New Tech Service Center

McKinney, TX – London-based Barclays Bank has selected McKinney, Texas, as the site for its newest “innovative technology” center.

The new 40,000-square foot center” will support the bank’s global operations “by providing technology support to the business and develop solutions for all the group’s activities and requirements including personal banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking and wealth management,” the bank said.

The move by the international financial services provider is a major score for the McKinney Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which opened talks with Barclays in December 2013, when the UK-based bank expressed interest in siting its new operation in Texas.

The MEDC worked closely with the City of McKinney staff and City Council, the McKinney Community Development Corporation (MCDC), and others “to efficiently work on an expedited time frame. Barclays plans to move into McKinney Corporate Center in the fall of 2014,” the economic development agency said.

McKinney “presented Barclays a competitive opportunity with a high profile location along the Sam Rayburn Tollway, a highly educated and abundant labor pool, and sufficient parking for their employees,” said McKinney Economic Development Corporation Board Chairman, Ernest Lynch. “Our economic development team was able to move quickly to address Barclays’ needs.”

The new tech center will be sited in Craig Ranch, a 2,200-acre business, retail and residential community in McKinney, which is located about 30 miles north of Dallas and is considered one of the fastest-growing cities in the US.


FDI in China Drops to New Low; Anti-Trust Actions Blamed

Los Angeles, CA – China attracted $71.1 billion in foreign direct investment from January to July, down 0.4 percent on the same period in 2013, with FDI in the country reaching $7.8 billion in July alone, the first decline in overseas capital inflow in 17 months.

The slashing of spending in China’s manufacturing sector by companies from the US, Japan and the European Union is being blamed, primarily, on an increase in Beijing’s recent crackdown on foreign companies alleged to be engaging in “anti-competitive” business practices.

Over the past year, China has taken action against a number of ‘big ticket’ foreign companies, accusing them of breaking the country’s anti-trust regulations, which many feel are opaque and in violation of World Trade Organization rules.

Most recently luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz has been accused of manipulating prices for after-sales services in the country, while Beijing has imposed fines on milk powder companies including Mead Johnson Nutrition Co and Danone SA, alleging breach of its anti-monopoly laws.

China has also launched a probe into US-based Microsoft and chip maker Qualcomm over anti-trust claims, while several pharmaceutical companies including GlaxoSmithKline are facing probe in the country over alleged corruption and price fixing.

The probes have raised concerns among foreign investors that the country is targeting foreign firms operating there in an effort to, as one source out it, “flex its muscles.”

According to the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing, though, the anti-trust investigations aren’t responsible for the drop in FDI. Instead, the agency said, the “volatility of FDI” is a natural reaction to the country’s “efforts to balance the economic structure.”

The monthly decline “is not sufficient enough to reflect the general trend. It must not be linked to the anti-monopoly probes into some foreign invested companies or be associated with other baseless speculations,” said Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang.

“All market players should operate their business according to the law,” he added. “They should be punished according to the law and be subject to appropriate legal penalties if they violate the law.”

Beijing, he said, “expects foreign investment to keep a steady growth in the coming years and total FDI in 2014 to remain at a similar level with last year.”


US Exports to ‘Sub-Saharan’ Africa Surge to $1.7 Billion

Washington, DC – Over the past ten months, the US Export-Import Bank (EXIM) has reportedly authorized a record $1.7 billion in financing to support exports of American-made products to sub-Saharan Africa.

This record-setting surge “has not only empowered U.S. small businesses to sell their products in global markets, but has also supported more than 10,000 American jobs which contribute to strengthening the U.S. economy,” the trade bank said.

The announcement was made as EXIM President and CEO Fred Hochberg participated in the US-Africa Leaders Summit that recently convened in Washington, DC.

EXIM also said it will pledge $3 billion in financing to support US exports to sub-Saharan Africa over the next two fiscal years and that it had recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Angola “to strengthen collaboration on the financing of American-made exports” to the central African nation.

Two-thirds of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa lacks electricity and earlier this month, the bank approved a loan guarantee for $17 million to support long-term financing by the West African Development Bank (BOAD) for the Azito Power project in Cote D’Ivoire.

Financing for steam turbines used in the Azito Power project will support 40 manufacturing and engineering jobs in Schenectady, New York, and Bangor, Maine, said EXIM. The project is part of a long-term strategy to strengthen the region’s power capacity and, in turn, help to position economies there for growth, it added.

Three Louisiana small businesses benefit from EXIM’s $43 million financing of a liftboat destined for Nigeria.

The “Bellator” liftboat is a self-propelled vessel, 150-foot long by 118-foot wide, that lifts and suspends equipment and personnel up to the level of an offshore drilling platform.  About 300 employees of C.S. Liftboats, Inc., of Abbeville, Louisiana, together with Gulf Island Fabrications of Houma, Louisiana, will construct the high-tech vessel.

The Nigerian buyer also contracted for prefabricated liftboat-mounted modules for housing workers; these are built by Fiberglass Unlimited Inc. of Raceland, Louisiana.  This is Nigeria’s first purchase of a new, US-made liftboat system.

According to the bank, Pennsylvania employees of GE Transportation “will benefit from the bank-supported export of GE’s locomotives with Pennsylvania-made engines and components to Transnet in South Africa.”  In its recent transaction, EXIM authorized a $563.5 million loan guarantee to support financing for the sale of 293 locomotives being manufactured by GE Transportation.

EXIM “is firmly committed to equipping US exporters to realize the vast economic opportunities emerging throughout sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to seven out of 10 of the world’s fastest-growing markets,” said EXIM’s Hochberg. “Each transaction the Bank supports creates jobs for local US businesses and strengthens our relationship with a region that has a strong prospect for long-term economic growth.”


FDI Tax Breaks, Incentives Slammed in New Report

Washington, DC – The use of tax breaks and other incentives by state and local governments and economic development agencies across the country to attract foreign businesses has come under fire in a study just released by The Brookings Institution.

Calling the practice “deeply flawed,” the economic think tank states that “mergers and acquisitions are driving foreign investment in the US, not the opening of new establishments.”

Civic leaders, it said, “would accomplish far more by bolstering industrial amenities to retain overseas companies than by offering rich subsidies designed to attract new ones.”

According to Devashree Saha, a senior policy analyst at Brookings and lead author of the report, “Policies that narrowly focus on new business openings are probably not going to give you a big bang for your buck.”

In 2011, only 26 percent of all jobs at US locations of foreign companies were created by the opening of a new factory, office or store, while nearly a third were generated by foreign takeovers of US companies, he said, adding that over the past 20 years, 84 percent of foreign companies that came to the US did so through an acquisition.

“Federal, state and local governments “should invest more to build strong industry clusters by ensuring an adequate supply of skilled workers, modernizing US infrastructure and increasing investment in research and development, among other initiatives,” the study found.

While the US is still the global leader in attracting FDI, the US share of global foreign direct investment (FDI) shrank from 37 percent in 2002 to 17 percent in 2012 with China and other developing economies grabbing a growing share of foreign business, according to data from the Washington, DC-headquartered Organization for International Investment (OFII).

“Outsize Benefits” Generated

Foreign-owned companies employ about 5.6 million workers in the US, or about 5 percent of private payrolls, according to the Brookings study. Their employment grew steadily from 1991 to 2000, but has stagnated since.

“Yet, the firms generate outsize benefits, accounting for a fifth of US goods exports and 15.4% of all private R&D in 2011,” the study said. “Foreign owners of US operations also pay higher wages than US companies — $77,000 vs. $60,000, on average.”

The report also ranks states and “metro areas” based on their share of jobs at foreign-owned establishments.

In 2011, Delaware led with 8.5 percent of all private-sector jobs at foreign-owned locations, particularly in the pharmaceutical, medicine, manufacturing and insurance sectors, followed by South Carolina with 7.5 percent of its private jobs at foreign-owned companies, largely in the auto industry.

Bridgeport, Connecticut, led among US “metro areas” with foreign firms accounting for 13.6 percent of private payrolls, particularly in the computer systems design and brokerage fields.

Greensboro, North Carolina, ranked second with 9 percent – primarily retail grocery stores, auto manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals). Worcester, Massachusetts tied for second place with most of its foreign-owned employers in the power generation, electrical products and insurance sectors.

In the 20 metro areas analyzed for the Brookings study, FDI made up more than half of all jobs in the largest industries active in Dayton, Ohio; Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Charleston, South Carolina, and San Jose, California.