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United States

US government is keeping a closer eye on foreign purchases of land near important military bases

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  • The U.S. government is expanding scrutiny of foreign real estate deals near military bases, with a focus on potential threats from China.
  • Cfius's oversight will extend to over 50 additional military installations, with some transactions within a 100-mile radius subject to review.
  • The Biden administration is considering granting Cfius more authority, including enhanced access to information and increased ability to impose penalties.

The U.S. Treasury Department has unveiled a plan to substantially broaden the range of domestic facilities covered by regulations that empower the government to prevent foreign investors from acquiring real estate near sensitive locations. This initiative would allow the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (Cfius) to examine property transactions in the vicinity of over 50 additional military installations that were previously not subject to such scrutiny.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen emphasized the critical role of Cfius in this expanded oversight. She stated, "Cfius plays a critical role in protecting our national security by thoroughly reviewing transactions near sensitive military sites." This underscores the administration's commitment to enhancing national security through more comprehensive real estate transaction monitoring.

Increased Radius of Scrutiny

One of the most significant aspects of this proposal is the expansion of the geographical area subject to review. For certain critical bases, transactions within a 100-mile radius could now fall under Cfius scrutiny. This expanded reach would encompass major metropolitan areas and potentially impact real estate deals in regions such as Boston, Providence, and Columbus.

Notable military installations that would be included in this expanded oversight include:

  • Joint Base Cape Cod in Massachusetts
  • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio

The inclusion of these bases and the extended radius of scrutiny demonstrate the government's commitment to safeguarding a wider range of strategic locations from potential foreign influence or interference.

China-Focused Concerns and Recent Actions

While the proposal does not explicitly target any specific national security threat, it aligns with ongoing efforts in Washington to enhance the government's ability to scrutinize investment activities, particularly those involving China. This focus on China-related concerns is evident in recent actions taken by the administration.

In a notable case, President Biden recently ordered the sale of real estate near a Wyoming nuclear missile base owned by MineOne Partners, a crypto company with Chinese ownership. This action came after officials discovered the transaction following a public tip-off, highlighting the increased vigilance surrounding foreign ownership of property near sensitive military sites.

Potential Expansion of Cfius Authority

The administration is considering further strengthening Cfius's role by granting it additional powers. These potential expansions include:

  • Enhanced access to information
  • Increased ability to impose penalties
  • Proposed regulations on capital outflows to Chinese firms in specific sectors, such as artificial intelligence and semiconductor technology

These considerations reflect the government's proactive approach to addressing evolving national security challenges in an increasingly interconnected global economy.

Implications for Real Estate Markets and Foreign Investment

The proposed expansion of Cfius oversight could have significant implications for real estate markets near military installations. Foreign investors and real estate developers may face additional hurdles and scrutiny when considering property acquisitions in these areas. This could potentially impact property values and investment patterns in affected regions.

However, it's important to note that the primary goal of these measures is to safeguard national security interests rather than to discourage foreign investment altogether. The challenge for policymakers will be to strike a balance between protecting sensitive locations and maintaining an open and attractive environment for legitimate foreign investment in the U.S. real estate market.

As the global landscape of national security continues to evolve, these proposed measures represent a significant step in the U.S. government's efforts to protect sensitive military locations from potential foreign threats. The expanded oversight of real estate transactions near military bases underscores the complex interplay between national security concerns and international investment in an increasingly interconnected world.

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