NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a proclamation Tuesday seeking to reassure international businesses that Arkansas welcomes foreign investments despite the current political winds in Washington.
“I … do hereby proclaim that ARKANSAS IS OPEN FOR INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS, and I urge all citizens across the state to welcome new partnerships and investments from global companies,” the proclamation reads in part.
Hutchinson announced the proclamation in a news conference at the North Little Rock plant of French cosmetics company L’Oreal, after taking a tour of the facility.
“Arkansas has grown over 45 percent in jobs created by direct foreign investment in the last five years,” he said during the news conference. “This is because we’ve had trade missions, we’re trying to bring foreign investors here.”
Talking to reporters later, Hutchinson said openness to foreign investments is nothing new for Arkansas, but he said the issue is timely because of uncertainty about the future of American trade policies.
“Just like L’Oreal, who’s creating 450 jobs in Arkansas, it’s a French-owned company, and they’re nervous about, what’s the future of national policy on trade going to be? Are we going to set up tariffs? Are we going to continue with an open trading policy and emphasis on global trade?” he said.
Nancy McLernon, president and CEO of the Washington-based Organization for International Investment, said Hutchinson is the fourth governor to issue a policy statement on foreign investments at the organization’s urging. The governors of New Hampshire, Kentucky and Pennsylvania have issued similar statements, she said.
McLernon said it is not only the statements of President Donald Trump that have made foreign companies nervous.
“Last year throughout the election cycle, we saw both the Democrats and the Republicans at the top of the ticket questioning the importance of global connections,” she said. “It’s something that we’ve seen around the world. I mean, look at Brexit.”
According to McLernon’s organization, 46,400 workers in Arkansas are employed as a result of international investments.