This week, the Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum (PI-SF) held an expert webinar titled, “Foreign Investments Affecting National Security,” focusing on foreign direct investment in US markets and the regulatory role of the federal government. This follows their previous event, “5G Security Challenges,” which featured leaders from the United States and the EU offering commentary, insight and recommendations for the 5G network rollout across the United States and western world. The webinar was again lead and moderated by former Congressman Robert Pittenger, who has led the international discussion surrounding cyber and national security threats as the founder of PI-SF.
The webinar featured Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) as keynote speakers, each offering remarks on the importance of CFIUS and FIRRMA, as well as the increased scrutiny needed regarding Chinese investment in the United States. The Senators were joined by Hon. Tom Feddo, Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Investment Security, Hon. Richard Ashooh, Assistant Secretary of Commerce-Bureau of Industry and Security, and Hon. Marco Campomenosi, Member of the European Parliament from Italy, each serving as roundtable speakers.
Former Congressman Pittenger kicked off the webinar by discussing his work regarding CFIUS and its overhaul and expansion during his time in Congress. Congressman Pittenger used that work on CFIUS and its expansion to introduce Sen. Cornyn, his counterpart on the drafting and passing of FIRRMA legislation. Senator Cornyn noted the increased importance of scrutinizing Chinese investment through the COVID-19 crisis, as IP theft and malign tactics have increased dramatically through the course of the pandemic.
The conversation then shifted to the expert panelists, starting with Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Investment Security Tom Feddo. Assistant Sec. Feddo used the platform to draw further attention to the importance of CFIUS and its expansion during the current administration, drawing attention to the work Treasury is doing at the federal level and also pointing to the Department of Treasury’s continued buildout of information technology professionals and CFIUS’ increased role in transaction oversight.
Dr. Roslyn Layton rounded out the conversation by outlining the White Paper she co-authored with Congressman Pittenger, “CFIUS’ Growing Power to Protect American Security from China Tech Threats: Examining TikTok and Lenovo.” Dr. Layton showed the increased activity of CFIUS due to FIRRMA, the likelihood that increased CFIUS scrutiny would have blocked the IBM/Lenovo PC and server business acquisition, and the increasing attention Chinese social-app TikTok is facing from US agencies.
The PI-SF is an organization working to offer expert insight and policy recommendations to lawmakers for the benefit of national security and technology markets. Webinars like this one are pivotal to American industry and FDI protocols, as the threat of increased Chinese ownership in technology markets without proper federal oversight is one that cannot be understated.