Reform the CFIUS Process; Balance Foreign Investment with National Security

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 2, 2006 | Go to article overview

Reform the CFIUS Process; Balance Foreign Investment with National Security


Byline: Roy Blunt, Deborah Pryce, Carolyn Maloney and Joseph Crowley, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Many Americans were outraged with the announcement in mid-Februaryofthe planned $6.8 billion purchase of Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation, a London-based port operation company, by Dubai Ports World. As part of the proposed deal, management of commercial operations at six ports along the Eastern seaboard of the United States and Gulf of Mexico including New York, Miami, and New Orleans would have been transferred to DP World, a company owned by the government of Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates.

Regrettably, the deal was not properly vetted for security risks andCongressionalleaders learned of it the way most Americans did through newspaper accounts of the transaction.

During the subsequent uproar, the loudest cries have come from many in Congress demanding that the government mechanism for reviewing foreign acquisitions that could impact America's security the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States be radically re-worked. Without question, the CFIUS process must be improved.

Additionally, as Congress considers potential reforms, our goal must be to achieve the dual objectives of ensuring national security while preserving America's global economic leadership.

The U.S. economy benefits from foreign investment, which totaled $129 billion last year, up 20 percent from 2004. It also benefits from the ability of American investors to buy and sell companies in other countries. Roughly 5 million Americans one out of every 20 employees in this country work for a foreign-based company. American workers and investors gain from a global economy that maximizes the value of the companies they work for and invest their pension funds or IRAs in.

Any reform of the CFIUS process must acknowledge these economic realities, keeping in mind that no cross-border business deal is worth risking the safety of the American people. The best reform will keep Americans secure while avoiding a chilling effect on foreign investment, the likely results of which would include higher interest rates, lower equity prices, slower economic growth and fewer American jobs.

The United States is the world's largest investor, with over $10 trillion in assets overseas. …

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