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White House says foreign investment key to infrastructure plan

White House says foreign investment key to infrastructure plan
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The White House believes that foreign investment will be key to fulfilling President Trump's promise to upgrade U.S. roads, bridges, airports and other public works, officials said Tuesday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the success of President Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure package — which is expected to rely heavily on the private sector — will likely depend on help from foreign investors.

“Working with foreign investors is going to be a critical part of any plan we put forward,” Mnuchin said at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington. "Public-private partnerships are crucial to ensuring that the American taxpayer does not bear the full cost of any proposed program."

A number of foreign investors, including in Australia, Canada, Europe and the Middle East, already invest in U.S. infrastructure.

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But Trump’s infrastructure proposal will try to encourage even more private-sector involvement through various incentives, with the administration hoping to spend $200 billion to leverage $1 trillion worth of overall investment.

The White House has also endorsed an idea known as asset recycling, which entails selling off public assets to the private sector and using the proceeds to pay for other transportation projects.

Trump’s infrastructure proposal is also expected to include massive permit and regulatory reform in order to speed up project delivery and create a more attractive environment for private firms.

The president’s infrastructure pledge, though far from finalized, has already spurred optimism among transportation advocates and investors.

Japan said earlier this year that it plans to invest in U.S. infrastructure by buying debt issued by American companies. The investment will amount to $150 billion in public and private funds over 10 years and could reportedly create several hundred thousand U.S. jobs in projects related to artificial intelligence and robotics.

And Saudi Arabia recently made a tentative pledge to invest $20 billion in a new infrastructure fund managed by The Blackstone Group, a private investment firm led by Trump economic advisor Steve Schwarzman.

“The United States is one of the world’s most open investment environments and will remain a leading destination for international investment,” Mnuchin said. “The reform program we have put forward is going to make the U.S. an even more attractive place to do business ... Those investing here should have no doubt that their investments will be safe and secure.”