Report: Trump to order Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to examine food security
As part of a trade agenda that would begin on the first day of his presidency, President-elect Donald Trump “would order the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to review food security in trade and reciprocity in international corporate takeovers (i.e. whether a U.S. company would be able to buy a Chinese company like a Chinese company would be able to be buy a U.S. company),” CNN said in a report Wednesday.
CNN said it got the information from a Trump transition memo it had obtained.
Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he had received answers to questions he had posed to ChemChina about its planned acquisition of Syngenta, a Swiss company that has substantial operations in the United States, but that he still has concerns about ChemChina’s “possible use of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.”
“China, through state-owned enterprises, has made buying western companies an annual tradition over the last several years. The transactions involve billions of dollars worth of market share and intellectual property,” Grassley said.
“ChemChina’s answers to my questions provide some important insight into its acquisition of Syngenta, but the answer regarding sovereign immunity leaves a number of concerns.”
Grassley said that, “In its response, ChemChina wrote that Syngenta would be entirely owned by the Chinese state-owned company, meaning that it would be possible for Syngenta to assert sovereign immunity as a defense to claims brought in U.S. courts. And, while ChemChina indicated that immunity would not extend to Syngenta’s U.S. business, the company failed to note that immunity would otherwise apply to a wholly state-owned entity.”
Grassley noted that he introduced legislation in September to make sure that state-owned enterprises don’t attempt to skirt responsibility through the U.S. courts. His State-owned entities Transparency and Accountability Reform (STAR) Act legislation would ensure that state-owned companies engaged with American companies and consumers as market participants would have to respond to claims brought in American courts, just like any other foreign company that isn’t owned by a government.
When he introduced the bill, Grassley said that some state-owned enterprises have tried to use the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to their advantage in the U.S. judicial system. State-owned enterprises often have complex ownership structures and then, when facing court proceedings, claim that immunity given to foreign sovereign governments in U.S. courts is also available to the state-owned enterprise at various levels of the organization, Grassley said.
Grassley noted that he had chaired a hearing in September on the seed and agrochemical industry mergers that have been proposed.
Grassley led a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September on the seed and agrochemical industry deals that have been proposed between Dow and DuPont, Monsanto and Bayer, and Syngenta and ChemChina. Representatives from Dow and DuPont, Monsanto, Bayer, and Syngenta testified before the committee, but ChemChina declined the invitation to attend.
Agriculture lobbyists in recent days have told The Hagstrom Report that they wonder what attitude a Trump administration will take toward the mergers, especially if they involve foreign takeovers of U.S. companies. F
–The Hagstrom Report
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