US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he will use a strengthened national security review process to thwart foreign acquisitions of sensitive American technologies.
Without naming China directly, Trump said he will use the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to block deals that have a bearing on US national security, Reuters reports.
The administration will adopt that route, rather than impose China-specific investment restrictions, the president indicated, marking a softer approach.
The move came after the US Treasury Department recommended that Trump use the CFIUS, whose authority would be enhanced by new legislation in Congress, to control investment deals.
“I have concluded that such (CFIUS) legislation will provide additional tools to combat the predatory investment practices that threaten our critical technology leadership, national security, and future economic prosperity,” Trump said in a statement.
The decision marks a victory for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a fierce White House debate over the scope of such curbs.
Mnuchin had favored a more measured and global approach to protecting US technology, using authority approved by Congress, while White House trade adviser Peter Navarro had argued for China-specific restrictions using an emergency sanctions law.
Senior administration officials told reporters on a conference call that sticking with CFIUS, a process companies are familiar with, would ensure strong inward investment into the US while protecting the “crown jewels” of American intellectual property.
Trump said in his statement that upon final passage of the legislation, known as the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, he will direct his administration “to implement it promptly and enforce it rigorously, with a view toward addressing the concerns regarding state-directed investment in critical technologies.”
If Congress fails to pass the legislation quickly, Trump said he would direct the administration to implement new restrictions under executive authority that could be applied globally.
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