John Kabealo was featured on Marketplace today. The interview covers effects of the anticipated expansion of Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) authorities on the business community. The full episode can be found here. The segment begins around the 11-minute mark.
Statutory and regulatory authorities for CFIUS should be updated to account for current national security and trade security concerns. The current policy underlying CFIUS only accounts for equity investments by foreign companies in operating U.S. businesses, but U.S. national security can be affected by a far broader set of transactions than equity investments alone, most notably including technology licensing agreements. The trick for policymakers will be in balancing the need to expand CFIUS authorities without overreaching to sweep in run-of-the-mill commercial transactions, and without creating conflicts with current technology export control regulations. There is some very good news here: Congressional policymakers have been hard at work, in conjunction with Treasury and other CFIUS agencies for more than a year to thoughtfully devise an updated policy. Together they have created a sensible reform package, garnered bipartisan support on most issues, and are preparing to move forward with a reform bill, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). You can read here for a discussion of the current status of FIRRMA. If passed, FIRRMA will have a noticeable impact on the business community, and, while the reforms will be manageable, companies will need to work hard to get their sea legs in the new regime.
This firm is carefully tracking developments relating to FIRRMA, including the process being unrolled to turn it into law. Currently, most observers expect that a version of FIRRMA will pass this year, possibly before the congressional August recess. There is a firm desire by members of congress, led by Senator John Cornyn, to move swiftly on this issue.
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