It's ironic that the European Community believes national security legislation supported by me and 38 other members of Congress could be abused under the guise of trade protectionism ("U.S. Regulation on Foreign Investments Upsets EC," Feb. 19). It is far easier for EC nations to block an American acquisition of a European firm because it is not in their public interest than it is for us to make the case that a European takeover of a U.S. firm threatens our national security.
The Technology Preservation Act would strengthen procedures used by the President to review and restrict foreign takeovers of American firms that would threaten our national security.
The British government can block the foreign takeover of a manufacturing concern if it is determined that the acquisition is contrary "to the national interest."
In France, direct foreign investment must be approved by the finance ministry and investments can be barred if they are judged to "jeopardize public health, order, security, or defense." And the German government has the legislative authority to regulate foreign investment "to guarantee the security of the republic, to prevent a disturbance in the peaceful coexistence between nations, or to prevent external relations of the Federal Republic from being substantially disturbed."
Our bill is not "election-year legislation," as it was incorrectly characterized in your article. Most of the bill's provisions were recommended by the Defense Science Board and the General Accounting Office (GAO) more than two years ago.
The legislation now being considered keeps national security as the only basis for blocking foreign acquisition of an American firm. It would make the President's science adviser a member of the interagency committee that reviews and investigates to determine if an acquisition threatens national security. Foreign investment is not bad, but it is important that the President be able to ensure that such investment continue under circumstances that allows for the safeguarding of technology essential to national security.
REP. CARDISS COLLINS, D-Ill.
Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Commerce,
Consumer Protection and Competitiveness