The OECD’s Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) Network organized seminars on the important issue of Government screening of inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) June 17 and 18. Lauren Mandell, special counsel at USCIB member law firm WilmerHale, was the sole business speaker at the opening session; other speakers were government investment promotion officials, regulators, and OECD policy experts. Investment screening is a growing practice around the world in both OECD member nations, including the U.S., and in developing countries.
According to USCIB Senior Adviser Shaun Donnelly, USCIB and the Business at OECD (BIAC) coalition have long spoken out in support of open flows of FDI in all directions, believing FDI promotes economic growth, competition, and jobs. Some screening, as in the U.S., is focused on national security consideration but “national security” can be abused to justify protectionist or mercantilist policies by host governments. And some governments have investment screening which goes beyond national security factors to broad, vague standards of “national interest” or “competitive need” reviews which can easily be abused to discriminate against foreign investors.
“Lauren Mandell did a great job of delivering the business perspective on this important range of issues,” said Donnelly. “Drawing on his prior experience as a USTR investment policy negotiator and participant in the U.S. Government ‘CFIUS’ review process, as well as his broad private sector experience, Lauren was able to shape the overall debate and ensure balance in the discussions.”
Donnelly, a longtime investment expert and former U.S. government negotiator was also able to chime in from the audience to support Lauren’s messages and highlight long-running U.S. government concerns over the government of Canada’s broad “National Interest” reviews of inward investment proposals.
“Lauren Mandell did a great job in getting the business perspective and concerns into this important debate at the OECD,” added Donnelly. “It’s so important to have the private sector perspective included in these important policy sessions at the OECD and beyond. Lauren was able to bring real-world experience and credibility to very interesting panel discussion. We at USCIB are very grateful to BIAC for designating Lauren as a lead business speaker and, especially, to Lauren for making time to take on this speaking role.”