Foreign investments involve a company from one country investing in a company in another country, often leading to control over the company. Such investments can have positive effects, such as the transfer of knowledge, technology, and economic growth. Considering increasing global tensions and rising investments from countries like China, Russia, and the Gulf States, Norway and other countries have heightened their focus on foreign investments and the potential security risks associated with them, such as political pressure, espionage, or sabotage. Legislation and investment control are being introduced and developed in many countries, including Norway, to address these risks, especially within critical societal sectors. The COINS project, which involves researchers from NUPI and the University of Oslo as well as international partners, focuses on how liberal economies like Norway can attract foreign investments while managing the increased risks they may entail:
- Foreign investments represent a security challenge for Norway. The project contributes to the design of investment control systems.
- Based on data from Statistics Norway, the project analyzes foreign investments, with particular attention to Chinese investments.
- International cooperation is necessary to balance national security with an open economic system.
- Russia's war in Ukraine has highlighted the need for stricter control of investments and influences international investment decisions.
- The project is in the final stages of a major edited book that addresses the dilemmas around foreign investments, security, and screening mechanisms in the West, China, and Russia, in a context of increasing geopolitical tensions.
COINS examines the relationship between foreign investments and legitimate national security concerns. Foreign acquisitions and investments are often found to have positive economic effects in the host country, contributing to innovation, increased productivity, knowledge transfers, job creation, and increased tax revenues. This project will investigate mechanisms and cases where foreign investments may potentially harm societal or national security. COINS examines how, under which conditions, and to what extent foreign investments represent a security challenge, and how to conceptualize, interpret, measure, mitigate and manage such risks. Overall, a key challenge is to find an appropriate balance between realising the benefits of foreign investments while safeguarding national security. The primary aim is to increase knowledge on new actors, networks, and organizational forms, improve our understanding of how technological and organizational transformations affect security and associated challenges of governance. A main focus will be on these challenges in a Norwegian context, and the project will be conducted in close collaboration with stakeholders and policymakers. The topic - of a crucial although underexplored importance - will be investigated conceptually and comparatively by a carefully selected multidisciplinary team of experienced researchers from the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), the Faculty of Law of the University of Oslo, and three international partner institutions. The project is designed to ensure innovation in theory, data, and methods, also providing timely and relevant knowledge for decisionmakers.