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Foreign direct investment reviews 2023: A global perspective

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A guide to navigating the rules for investing in countries that require foreign direct investment approval.


Now in its seventh year of annual publication, White & Case's Foreign Direct Investment Reviews provides a comprehensive look into rapidly evolving foreign direct investment (FDI) laws and regulations in approximately 40 national jurisdictions and two regions. This 2023 edition includes more than 15 new jurisdictions in addition to those covered in previous editions and summarizes high-level principles in the European Union and Middle East. Our expansion in coverage reflects the rapid global proliferation of FDI regimes and our market leading position in the field.

FDI regimes are wide-reaching in scope, from national security to public health and safety, law and order, technological superiority, and continuity and integrity of critical supply chains. They are divergent with respect to jurisdictional triggers across countries, and are almost always a black-box process.

The following are some general observations, in large part based on the 2022 CFIUS and EU annual reports:

  • The number of FDI regimes and regulatory enhancements is growing around the world, particularly in Europe. In 2021 and 2022, four EU Member States—Czech Republic, Denmark, Netherlands and Slovakia—implemented new FDI regimes, and in 2023, Sweden and Belgium are slated to adopt FDI screening measures (in addition to non-member Switzerland).
  • FDI regulators, at least from allied nations, are collaborating and learning from each other. CFIUS reported at its first annual conference in 2022 that it continues to host training sessions for US allies so that they can adopt similar regimes.
  • FDI regulators interpret their jurisdiction and authority broadly, especially if they believe it is in the national interest. Many regulators have "call-in," "ex officio," or "non-notified" authority.
  • Despite increased regulation, most cross-border transactions are successfully consummated, although there has been an increase in the number of cases clearing with remedies.
  • The origin of the investor remains a key concern for Western regulators. For example, China and Russia are included more and more in CFIUS's regular Q&A, asking broader and more invasive questions.

Investors conducting cross-border business need to understand FDI restrictions as they are today—and how these laws are evolving over time—to avoid disruption to realizing synergies, achieving technological development and integration, and ultimately securing liquidity.

We would like to extend a special thank-you to all of our external authors, who have provided some insightful commentary on the FDI regimes in a number of important jurisdictions. The names of these individual contributors and their law firms are provided throughout this publication.

We would also like to extend a special thank-you to James Hsiao of our Hong Kong office and Tim Sensenig of our Washington, DC office for their tireless efforts and dedication to the publication of this edition.



The Canadian government announced a strict framework to evaluate foreign investments in the critical minerals sector by state-owned enterprises and state-linked private investors, especially if from “non-likeminded” countries.

canada fdi 2022


Foreign direct investments, whether undertaken directly or indirectly, are generally allowed without restrictions or without the need to obtain prior authorization from an administrative agency.

mexico fdi 2022

United States

Most deals are approved, but expanded jurisdiction, mandatory filings applying in certain cases, enhanced focus on national security considerations, and a substantially increased pursuit of non-notified transactions have changed the landscape.

United States of America



Driven by the European Commission's guidance, Member States keep expanding their investment screening regimes. A similar trend is observed in Europe at large.

european union fdi 2022


In Austria, the Austrian Federal Investment Control Act (Investitionskontrollgesetz or the ICA) introduced a new, fully fledged regime for the screening of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and came into effect on July 25, 2020. With its wide scope of application and extensive interpretation by the competent authority, the number of screened investments has soared.

austria fdi 2022


Belgium implements an FDI screening regime by July 1, 2023.


Czech Republic

The new Foreign Investments Screening Act took effect in May 2021, and completed its first full year in operation in 2022.

czech republic fdi 2022


The scope of the Danish FDI regime is comprehensive and requires a careful assessment of investments and agreements involving Danish companies.

denmark fdi 2022


Estonia will have in place an FDI review regime by September 2023.

estonia fdi 2022


Deals are generally not blocked in Finland.



In France, FDI screening authorities have issued new guidelines to improve the transparency of the FDI process.

france fdi 2022


The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy continues to tighten FDI control, but the investment climate remains liberal in principle.

germany fdi 2022


The need for FDI screening remains in focus for deals with Hungarian dimensions.

hungary fdi 2022


Ireland anticipates adopting and implementing an FDI screening regime by Q1 2023.

ireland fdi 2022


Italian "Golden Power Law:" Ten years old and continuously expanding its reach.


Republic of Latvia

The Russian Federation's invasion of Ukraine has precipitated the inclusion of provisions blocking Russian and Belarussian nationals from direct investment in a number of sectors.



All investments concerning national security are under the scope of review.



Luxembourg has introduced a bill of law to regulate foreign direct investments. The law is currently being discussed before the Luxembourg Parliament.



Malta's recently introduced FDI regime captures a substantial number of transactions that must be notified to the authorities and, in some cases, will be subject to screening.


Middle East

The Middle East continues opening to foreign investment, subject to licensing approvals and ownership thresholds for certain business sectors or in certain geographical zones.

Middle East


The Netherlands prepares for its first effective year of new FDI regulation.



Changes in the geopolitical situation have resulted in increased awareness of security threats caused by strategic acquisitions and access to sensitive technology. The ongoing review of the FDI regulations in Norway is expected to result in more effective mechanisms to identify and deal with security threats in transactions and investors should be prepared to take this into account when planning future investments in Norwegian companies that engage in sensitive activities.



The Polish FDI regime governing the acquisitions of covered entities by non-EEA and non-OECD buyers has been extended until July 2025.



Transactions involving foreign natural or legal persons that allow direct or indirect control over strategic assets may be subject to FDI screening.



The Romanian regime regarding foreign direct investment has undergone a major change in 2022, when new legislation was enacted, and is aimed at implementing relevant European Union legislation.


Russian Federation

The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) tends to impose increased scrutiny in the sphere of foreign investments and has developed a number of amendments to the foreign investments laws that are aimed at eliminating legislative gaps in this sphere.

Russian Federation


On November 29, 2022, Slovakia, for the first time, adopted full-fledged foreign direct investment legislation. This legislation is effective as of March 1, 2023.



Since May 31, 2020, certain foreign investments into Slovenian companies can be subject to review. Acquisition of real estate related to critical infrastructure may also be subject to review.



The restrictions imposed by the Spanish government on foreign direct investments during the COVID-19 outbreak have remained after the pandemic.



Other than security-related screening, Sweden is currently still without a general FDI screening mechanism.



Historically, Switzerland has been very liberal regarding foreign investments. However, there has recently been increased political pressure to create a more structured legal regime for foreign investment.



Making Türkiye an attractive investment destination continues to be a priority for the government.


United Arab Emirates

Foreign direct investment is permissible in the UAE, subject to applicable licensing and ownership conditions.


United Kingdom

The UK’s National Security & Investment Act has now been in place for a year and has already made its mark, prohibiting deals on national security grounds and also requiring remedies in cases that are not subject to the mandatory notification requirement.  We expect a continued tough approach over the next year as global geo-political tensions bring national security concerns to the fore.




Australia requires a wide variety of investments by foreign investors to be reviewed and approved before completion of the investment.



China has further developed its national security regulatory regime by promulgating measures on cybersecurity review and security assessment of cross-border data transfer.



India continues to be an attractive destination for foreign investment, ranking as the world's seventh-largest recipient of FDI in 2021.



The Japanese government continues to review filings and refine its approach under the FDI regime following the 2019 amendments.



Korea is increasing the level of scrutiny of foreign investments due to growing concerns over the transfer of sensitive technologies.


New Zealand

Recent legislative reforms have increased the New Zealand government's ability to take national interest considerations into account, but have also looked to exclude lower-risk transactions from consent requirements.

New Zealand


All FDIs are subject to prior approval, but the investment climate is welcoming and liberal.


Foreign direct investment reviews 2023: India

India continues to be an attractive destination for foreign investment, ranking as the world’s seventh-largest recipient of FDI in 2021.

6 min read

FDI is regulated primarily by India's Department of Promotion of Industry and International Trade (DPIIT), under its Foreign Exchange Management Act regime (FEMA Regime). India remains one of the most popular FDI destinations in the world, ranking as the seventh-largest recipient of FDI in 2021 according to the World Investment Record 2021. Attracting FDI inflows continue to be a priority for the Indian government, as it continues to shape the FDI legal landscape to make India an investor-friendly jurisdiction.

Recent updates

  • India continued to be a major destination of foreign direct investment, having received its highest-ever FDI inflow of US$83.57 billion for the financial year 2021 to 2022
  • There were no major changes to India's FDI legislation, although the DPIIT made minor amendments to the current laws and regulations governing FDIs in India. For example:
    • Pursuant to an amendment to the Foreign Exchange Management (Non-Debt Instruments) Rules of 2019 (the NDI Rules), foreign persons can now invest up to 20 percent in the Life Insurance Corporation of India, India's largest public sector insurance company
    • Pursuant to another amendment to the NDI Rules, prior government approval is required for the issuance of share-based employee benefits by Indian companies (i) to citizens of Bangladesh or Pakistan, and (ii) in sectors that mandate government approval. The issuance of share-based employee benefits must also comply with applicable rules and regulations, including applicable sectoral caps.

Some sectors, such as lottery businesses and the manufacture of tobacco or tobacco substitutes, are prohibited sectors where FDI is not permitted

Who files

There are two routes governing FDI into India: (i) the automatic route and (ii) the government approval route. Whether an investor proceeds via one route or the other would depend largely on the sector in which the investee entity falls as well as the quantum value of the investment.

Under the automatic route, FDI is allowed without the need to obtain any approval or license from the government. The amount of investment permitted would depend on the sector in which the investee operates. For example, some sectors, such as the manufacturing, telecom and financial services sectors, allow foreign investors to invest up to 100 percent of an Indian entity.

Certain other sectors fall under the government approval route, and require the prior approval of the government, the Reserve Bank of India, or both. Key sectors that require government approval include the multi-brand retail trading sector (where FDI of up to 51 percent is permissible assuming certain regulatory conditions are met) and the brownfield pharmaceutical sector (where any FDI above 74 percent must obtain government approval).

Some sectors, such as lottery businesses and the manufacture of tobacco or tobacco substitutes, are prohibited sectors where FDI is not permitted.

No application is required for transactions that fall within the automatic route. For transactions that fall under the government approval route, the foreign investor will have to file its FDI proposal under the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FPIP) managed by the DPIIT. The proposal will then be sent by the DPIIT to relevant stakeholders, such as the RBI and the Ministry of External Affairs.

Types of deals reviewed

The FEMA Regime governs the following types of transactions, among other things:

  • Equity investment into an Indian company by a foreign investor, including the acquisition of equity shares, fully paid and mandatorily convertible preference shares or debentures, and share warrants
  • Investment into capital contributions of Indian LLPs
  • Investment into convertible notes, provided that the convertible notes meet certain conditions. For example, the convertible notes can be issued only by start-up companies for an amount of 2.5 million Indian rupees (approximately US$30,000) or more in a single tranche, and issuance and transfer of these notes must adhere to pricing guidelines and sectoral conditions as prescribed under the FEMA Regime

Scope of the review

If a transaction falls under the government approval route, then the foreign investor must submit an FDI proposal to the DPIIT using the FPIP platform.

Documents that an FDI proposal must annex include the following: (i) charter documents of the foreign investor and investee entity; (ii) audited financial statements and tax returns of both the foreign investor and investee entity; (iii) diagrammatic representation of the flow of funds from the foreign investor to the investee entity; and (iv) a summary of the FDI proposal by the foreign investor.

Foreign investment into certain sectors may require prior security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs. These sectors include broadcasting, telecommunication, private security agencies and civil aviation. For these sectors, the FDI proposal will also be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs for its review.

The Indian government has broad discretion whether to grant or reject a proposal. The DPIIT and competent authorities would consider, among other things, the reputation of the foreign investor, its history of owning and operating similar investments, national security and the overall impact of the proposed investment on the national interest.

Review process timeline

The DPIIT's standard operating procedure on FDI applications provides an indicative timeline of eight to twelve weeks from the date of application to the date of approval. However, it is not unheard of for investors to require up to six to nine months for the entire application to be disposed of, including time spent providing clarifications or supplementary documents in response to questions from the DPIIT or any other competent authority.

Investors should engage counsel who are familiar with the particular federal, state and sectoral landscape that they wish to invest in

How foreign investors can protect themselves

The FEMA Regime contains extensive guidelines for FDI into India, and guidelines and restrictions may differ depending on the sector and mode of investment. Separate from the FEMA Regime, there may also be other considerations that a foreign investor may need to consider before investing into an Indian entity, including special benefits or incentives for setting up businesses in special economic zones and other sectoral regulations for businesses in regulated industries.

Investors should engage counsel who are familiar with the particular federal, state and sectoral landscape that they wish to invest in, and be acquainted early on with the particular restrictions or rules that may govern their investments. This would allow investors to prepare more comprehensive and compliant FDI proposals and increase the chances of it obtaining the relevant approvals and licenses early.

Looking ahead

The Indian economy has grown strongly over the past two decades, buoyed in part by the large influx of FDI. Despite decelerating global demand and challenging global economic conditions, the OECD has forecasted that India's GDP will continue to grow at a rate of 5.7 percent for the financial year 2023 – 2024, and expects India to be the second fastest-growing economy in the G20 in 2023 – 2024.

The Indian government will likely continue to take steps to make India an attractive investment destination. Having loosened FDI requirements in recent years, it will come as no surprise if the government were to further liberalize FDI requirements in India, and make it easier to invest into certain strategic sectors such as chemicals, healthcare and insurance.

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This article is prepared for the general information of interested persons. It is not, and does not attempt to be, comprehensive in nature. Due to the general nature of its content, it should not be regarded as legal advice.

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