New Missouri bill wants to ban state investments in China, Russia, Iran, Korea, Cuba and other countries

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Missouri – The State Treasurer of Missouri, Vivek Malek, is backing a new bill proposed by Branson’s Representative, Brian Seitz. This bill, if passed, would make Missouri’s state funds, like pension funds and other public money, pull out of investments in countries that the United States has either sanctioned or labeled as enemies. Malek and Seitz discussed this at the Greene County Elections Center in Springfield on Thursday afternoon.

The bill, known as House Bill 2143, hasn’t been debated in public yet. It would give organizations two years to withdraw their investments from several countries, including China, Russia, Iran, Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria. The bill also allows the governor, with advice from the attorney general, to add more countries to this list. Malek pointed out that this bill is in line with the federal government’s current view on these countries as adversaries.

The State Treasurer of Missouri is backing a new bill that would ban Missouri's state funds to be invested in unfriendly countries like China

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“The Foreign Adversary Divestment Act is pivotal to protecting Missouri public investment dollars by ensuring they are not put at risk in countries that are adversarial to our state or nation,” Seitz said. “Missourians don’t want dollars being invested in China. They don’t want them going to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They don’t want them going to the Russian Federation and then used to impede the goals of our state and our nation.”

Seitz explained that the bill he’s proposing is not just about protecting the country, but also about making smart money choices. He believes this bill, which has support from both political parties, makes a lot of sense.

He argued that investing in these countries is not only risky but also not very profitable. Seitz said the people of Missouri, whose money is at stake, deserve better investment options.

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In Missouri, there are 129 public pension funds and 13 public universities with their own investment funds. Malek mentioned that it’s not always clear which of these funds are invested in the countries considered adversaries, but this bill would make sure they all get checked. To identify these investments, Malek’s team will work with the Office of Foreign Asset Control and the State Department to make a list.

Malek also pointed out that the Missouri State Employee Retirement System currently has about $200 million invested in China.Top of Form

Malek has been a strong advocate for the Missouri State Employee Retirement System (MOSERS) to stop investing in China. Initially, MOSERS’ board didn’t agree with him in November, but they later decided to sell most of their investments in Chinese companies, as reported by the Missouri Independent. Malek assured that people who already receive pensions won’t be negatively affected if the organization handling their pensions is required to stop investing in certain countries.

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Malek shared his observations about investments. He said that over the last 15 years, he noticed on the MOSERS board that investments in emerging markets, excluding China, did better than those including China.

Other states, like Tennessee and Indiana, have already started similar actions to stop investing in certain countries. Additionally, governors from states such as South Dakota, Texas, Mississippi, and Iowa have called for more investment funds in emerging markets that don’t involve adversary countries.

In August, President Joe Biden signed an executive order. This order is about controlling and limiting some of the advanced technology investments from the U.S. that were going to China.

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