UPDATE 3-China's Commerce minister seeks clearer U.S. investment guide

Fri Mar 8, 2013 7:36pm EST
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By Lucy Hornby

BEIJING, March 8 (Reuters) - China's Commerce minister called for clearer guidelines from the United States on its security review procedures for foreign investment, while saying that China does not target specific countries for overseas investment.

China is studying the procedures of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, as it sets in motion its own security review, Chen Deming told reporters on Friday at a briefing at China's annual parliament session.

China, the world's fifth-largest source of outbound investment, regularly complains that the U.S. blocks access to plum investment prospects on national security grounds.

China's largest-ever foreign takeover, the $15.1 billion purchase of Canadian oil firm Nexen Inc by state-owned oil company CNOOC Ltd. in February cleared a CFIUS review, its last regulatory hurdle.

The U.S. attached the condition that CNOOC could not operate Nexen's many wells in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, although the Canadian unit could, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"I hope CFIUS can be more open and transparent, because companies never know whether their bid meets the requirements or not," Chen said, adding that "unfair" conditions had been attached to the Nexen approval.

"We need clearer guidelines on what conditions might violate U.S. security, to reduce risk for companies that want to invest. We hope to reduce disappointment and the cost of failed bids."   Continued...