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Chamber Welcomes Debate on Foreign Investment

Thursday, March 30, 2006 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, DC—The United States Chamber of Commerce welcomed the Senate Banking Committee's efforts to improve the process for reviewing foreign direct investment in the US, but warned additional amendments are necessary for a robust economy.

"The balance between keeping Americans safe and protecting the economy has not yet been reached," said Bruce Josten, Chamber executive vice president. "We will continue to work with the Senate, and the House, to ensure the administration has the flexibility to spend time and resources on foreign investment deals that require the most attention to national security concerns while allowing acquisitions that do not present any national security concerns to move forward without impediment."

The Senate Banking Committee today reported out a bill that would revise how the Committee on Foreign Direct Investment in the United States (CFIUS) addresses national security concerns when reviewing foreign acquisitions of American companies.

"We recognize the critical importance of foreign investment in the United States and the 5.4 million jobs it supports," wrote the Chamber in a letter to the Senate Banking Committee, as part of a coalition of business organizations, including: the American Petroleum Institute, Business Roundtable, the Financial Services Forum, and the Organization for International Investment. "We also believe that protecting national security is paramount. If an acquisition of a U.S. company would truly impair national security, the President should not hesitate to exercise his authority to block such an acquisition."

The Chamber supports several amendments that would curtail bureaucratic backlog in reviews and allow CFIUS to focus on those deals deemed most important to national security. Most prominent is an amendment requiring the 45-day review of acquisitions affecting critical infrastructure only in cases with outstanding security issues; and another that would strike any CFIUS agency's ability to extend the 30-day review period without cause.

Additionally, the Chamber backs an amendment that bans a "ranking" of countries for the purposes of considering CFIUS filings, but would require CFIUS officials to confer with the U.S. Secretary of State on matters of national security during review periods. We have concerns with the unprecedented notification requirements, which could result in a more generic foreign investment board rather than maintaining CFIUS' focus on threats to our nation's national security interests.

The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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