New security laws mean there’s no hiding place for those who do us harm, says business Secretary KWASI KWARTENG
Britain has always been the bastion of open, free-trading economies. As an island nation, we know our prosperity is underpinned by doing business across the globe.
Last year, foreign direct investment created more than 55,000 jobs in the UK and was worth nearly £4billion to the economy – benefiting communities across the country.
We attract investment from around the world thanks to our approach to innovation, competitive tax environment, lack of red tape and our skilled workforce.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng (pictured) says the government with use the new National Security and Investment Act bolsters to block deals that pose a security threat
And having unshackled ourselves from EU rule for good, we of course want to strengthen our position as one of the most attractive places in the world to do business and invest.
While we pride ourselves on being open for business, one fact must never be forgotten: our economic security is dependent on our national security.
So, while this Government welcomes the vast majority of foreign direct investment, under no circumstances will we allow deals to be made that compromise this country’s national security or the safety of our people.
In recent years, hostile actors have been seeking to undermine British interests by structuring sensitive deals to hide who is behind them and acquiring assets such as a business’s treasured intellectual property.
Such behaviour left unchecked can leave Britain vulnerable to disruption, unfair leverage and espionage. It is crucial, therefore, that the Government has the tools at our disposal to combat these threats coming from ever more determined overseas actors.
But as they have grown more cunning, we have made our defences stronger.
From today, new laws have come into place that shore up our national defences against malicious investment – bringing our powers, which were nearly 20 years old, in line with those of some of our closest allies such as the US and Australia.
The new National Security and Investment Act bolsters our powers so we can investigate any kind of qualifying transaction that raises a national security risk.
The laws mean investors and businesses must tell Government about certain types of proposed deals in particularly sensitive areas of the economy, such as in artificial intelligence and the civil nuclear sector.
If we believe a deal poses a threat to our national security, we will be able to add conditions to it, such as altering the amount of shares an investor is allowed to acquire or restricting access to commercial information.
In extreme cases, we will be able to block the deal completely. This landmark law not only significantly upgrades our decades-old screening powers, but gives investors additional certainty and clarity as we enshrine our status as a global champion of free trade and investment.
Most transactions will be unaffected by these new powers, and businesses and investors will be able to proceed quickly and with certainty in the knowledge that the Government will not revisit a transaction once cleared unless false or misleading information was provided.
The British public rightly expect their safety and security to be the Government’s number one priority, and we will always put them first.
We’re sending a crystal clear message to overseas investors: the UK is open for business, but if you seek to threaten the safety of the British people we will move to protect our interests.
The National Security and Investment Act protects our open, trading economy and ensures there is no hiding place for those who would do us harm.