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Business Groups Attack 'America First' Merger Review Bill

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Bloomberg interviews John Berlau on his opinion about senate legislation that would increase American protectionism through possibly barring foreign investment.

Senate legislation to increase scrutiny of mergers proposed by foreign investors faces opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and free-market think tanks.

The bill (S. 1983), introduced by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), is aimed at protecting America’s economic interests. But critics say the measure could do the opposite.

The measure would require a review of any foreign investment that would result in foreign control of any U.S. entity worth more than $1 billion. It also would require a review of any transaction by a state-owned enterprise that would result in control of a U.S. entity worth more than $50 million.

“To allow foreign investment to be rejected on an open-ended basis, separate of national security concerns, has the potential to drive valuable foreign investment away from our shores,” John Murphy, the chamber’s senior vice president for international policy, told Bloomberg Law.

The Senate effort reflects increased protectionism in Washington when it comes to foreign investments, particularly from China.

John Berlau, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, called the legislation a “very harmful” bill that makes President Donald Trump’s criticism of trade deals look moderate.

“I can’t imagine even President Trump supporting this,” he told Bloomberg Law. “I think even he would realize that this would be detrimental to jobs here. This legislation is basically saying that we’d rather have American firms go bankrupt than be rescued by foreign owners.”

Read the full article at Bloomberg News.