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Plain Talk: Treasurer says our thinking about foreign investments has to change in wake of Russia-Ukraine war

Should our state's thinking change when it comes to investing in places like Russia and China? "I think it has to," says Thomas Beadle, treasurer of the state of North Dakota and a member of the State Investment Board.

An aerial view shows a residential building destroyed by shelling in Borodyanka
An aerial view from a drone shows a residential building destroyed by Russian shelling in the settlement of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, on Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Maksim Levin / Reuters
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MINOT, N.D. — The officials overseeing North Dakota's investments are acting quickly to divest from investments in Russia in the wake of the terrible invasion of Ukraine.

Already about 37% of the investments overseen by the State Investment Board have been pulled. It will take some time to pull the rest out — the investments are complicated, and officials are trying to limit the financial hit North Dakotans will take — but there's a plan in place to make it happen .

Thomas Beadle.jpg
North Dakota Treasurer Thomas Beadle, a Republican
Provided photo

Should our strategy about investing in countries with not-so-great political leadership change going forward?

"I think it has to," Thomas Beadle said on this episode of Plain Talk.

Beadle was elected as North Dakota's treasurer last year, and by law is a member of the SIB. He said officials at the SIB, as well as other state boards, such as the Land Board, which oversees the investment of North Dakota's funds, are having a debate about that shift in policy now.

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It can be complicated. Investing in state-owned companies is one thing, but what about American companies that do businesses in places like China or Russia? Also, is there danger in setting a precedent for reactionary investing? Do we want to open the door to pulling investments in companies based in other states because North Dakotans don't like the politics there?

Beadle says we have to find a balance, and state investment officials are working to find out what looks like.

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Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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