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The foreign ownership of businesses operating in the United States has emerged as one of the more emotionally charged economic issues of this past decade. There are a multitude of reasons why foreign ownership has been so beset with controversy; after all, U.S.-owned firms met with similar rancor in the early years of their overseas endeavors.
But in an era of greater international interdependence, it seems incongruous that anyone would even look twice at a foreign-owned firm.
Nonetheless, many opinions on foreign ownership of firms operating in the U.S. are negative. Some view foreign ownership as symptomatic of the demise of U.S. industrial leadership. Others may see it as the end result of unfair practices by our international trading partners, particularly in the automobile manufacturing sector. These are, no doubt, overly simplified observations of a much more complex international economic situation.
But what are the facts on foreign ownership of businesses in the U.S. and in Washington? How is foreign ownership measured? In what industries is foreign ownership most prevalent? How many U.S. workers are actually employed in foreign-owned firms? Do foreign-owned firms pay their workers more or less than U.S. counterparts?
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