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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26242

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (10:31 PM) —For a start, any investment by a corporation from the United States is subject to the screening of foreign investment as contained in this agreement, but our reservations preserve the right to impose foreign ownership limits on government owned entities covered by our annex 2. As I said earlier, I think Senator Cherry is trying to say that this would give the United States most favoured nation status in relation to buying out a government instrumentality should it be privatised. That I think is the nub of the question.

In relation to the question of most favoured nation status, I understand that does not apply here and is not relevant. That has been my advice. In relation to whether or not they can simply invest in any acquisition, as anyone else would in that case of privatisation should it arise, there is still the question of screening that foreign investment as contained in the agreement. As I understand the advice I have, most favoured nation status does not apply and is not relevant. Any foreign investment from the United States vis-a-vis the proposed privatisation of the public entity or utility would be normal investment as per this agreement with the screening that applies.