Mar 15, 2018

Scoop: Anti-China investment bill gets pro-business changes

Cornyn and Feinstein. Photo: Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call

A new version of a foreign investment oversight bill championed by Sens. John Cornyn and Dianne Feinstein allows certain countries that are "strategic partners" of the U.S. to be exempt from review, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Why it matters: The changes show effort to alleviate concerns of American companies that feared the original bill's reach was too broad and would hurt business.

The backdrop: The legislation focuses on updating The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which has been taking a more aggressive approach to proposed mergers between U.S. and Chinese tech companies.

U.S. companies worried that some of the bill's original language was too vague, particularly in terms of what types of technologies and transactions would receive CFIUS scrutiny.

The details: Axios has learned will be three new changes to the bill.

  1. Define terms like “ordinary business transaction,” “associated support,” and “foreign person” to give the industry more certainty as to what transactions will be reviewed.
  2. Exempt reviews of transactions that are already covered by the export control board.
  3. Include "strategic partners" — countries beyond just treaty allies — on a "safe list" that exempts certain transactions from review.

What this means: The changes appear to let companies avoid CFIUS scrutiny on transactions like overseas equipment and license sales, but still do not address how CFIUS would define "critical technologies" or "critical infrastructure."

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