- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Bush administration, pledging a “strong and continued commitment” to safeguarding national security, issued 90 pages of regulations yesterday to implement a new law tightening security reviews of foreign investments.

Congress passed the law last year after an uproar in 2006 over a plan by United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Ports World to manage six of the largest ports in the United States. The deal fell through after lawmakers from both parties contended that the administration and the agency responsible for reviewing security issues had not fully considered all of the security concerns that had been raised.

The proposed regulations — issued for a 45-day period of public comment — provide an update to regulations issued in 1991, conforming to the new Foreign Investment and National Security Act that was signed into law in July.

“These regulations reflect America’s strong and continued commitment to safeguarding U.S. national security in a manner that reinforces the long-standing U.S. policy of welcoming foreign investment,” said Clay Lowery, Treasury”s assistant secretary for international affairs.

They “increase clarity and make additional improvements based on experience,” he said.

Treasury said a public-comment period on the new regulations will span 45 days from their publication later this week in the Federal Register. The regulations also are posted on the Treasury Department Web site.

Business groups representing both U.S. and foreign companies praised the decision.

“The regulations provide necessary guidance on which transactions involve both control and a relationship to national security and therefore require a … review,” said a joint statement from four groups: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the Financial Services Forum and the Organization for International Investment.

The new law is intended to ensure that high-level officials, including the director of national intelligence, participate in decisions concerning the security implications of direct foreign investment.

The law extends the scope of security reviews to cover deals involving critical infrastructure and energy and requires a second-stage review investigation of most proposed acquisitions by state-owned companies.

It gives legal status to the little-known Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, a multiagency group formed in 1975 to monitor U.S. policy on foreign investment. A 1988 law gave the president the authority to stop foreign acquisitions that pose a security threat, and the president delegated to CFIUS the authority to investigate the deals.


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