Bipartisan bill would force Commerce Dept. to judge economic risks of foreign investments

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A bipartisan bill released Wednesday would require the Commerce Department to review foreign investments for potential harm to the United States economy.

The bill, introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), aims to block foreign private and state-owned companies from investing in U.S. companies if it could benefit international competitors.

{mosads}“President Trump committed to putting a stop to U.S. industry’s being taken advantage of by foreign companies and countries,” said Grassley in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation is an opportunity to fulfill that pledge by empowering the Administration to block foreign investment that threatens the United States’ long-term economic interests.”

“State-owned enterprises and foreign investors determined to put American companies out of business should not be able to invest in our economy at the expense of American workers,” said Brown. “Before we do business with a foreign entity, let’s make sure it will create jobs and grow the U.S. economy.”

The bill would require the Commerce Department to approve any investment that would result in foreign control of a U.S. company worth more than $1 billion. The department would also approve  “any transaction of a state-owned enterprise” that would leave a U.S. business worth more than $50 million in foreign control.

Those measures are intended to prevent hostile takeovers or an investment in U.S. businesses from foreign investors and governments that aim to give international competitors an advantage.

The Commerce Department would have 15 days to review such transactions before officials would have to either approve, deny or ask for more time to assess the deal. The chair and ranking members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees could also ask the department to review a deal, and the department must issue public reports on each scrutinized deal.

If enacted, the bill would add an extra layer of vetting to major foreign investments. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency group run out of the Treasury Department, currently reviews potential foreign deals for national security risks.

Tags CFIUS Chuck Grassley foreign investment Sherrod Brown Trade policy Treasury

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