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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: Portugal

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

6 min read

João Marques Mendes and Joana Campelo (PLMJ Advogados, SP, RL) authored this publication

In Portugal, the Council of Ministers has the power to oppose acquisitions of infrastructure or strategic assets by non-EU or non-EEA natural or legal persons. The Council of Ministers may do so in order to guarantee public security, and only in exceptional circumstances and via a reasoned decision. Those transactions that may be opposed are those that are considered to jeopardize national defense and security, or the security of the country's supply in services fundamental to the national interest.

The Portuguese government has the power to review any transaction that allows control over strategic assets

Specifically, according to the Portuguese FDI Law (DL 138/2014), the Portuguese government may oppose investments (i) made by residents outside the EU or the EEA or by legal entities directly or indirectly controlled by residents outside the EU or EEA; (ii) that directly or indirectly allow direct or indirect control (iii) over strategic assets, which are defined as key infrastructures or assets related to defense and national security or to the provision of essential services in the energy, transport or communications sectors. The definition of direct or indirect control under the FDI Law is identical to that definition under EU and Portuguese competition law.

The Portuguese FDI Law does not require mandatory notification of any transaction, but the prospective purchaser may, on a voluntary basis, request an ex ante confirmation that an opposition decision will not be issued. From our experience, confirmation ex ante is rarely requested, and, to date, we are not aware of any transactions blocked under this framework.

Who files

The Portuguese FDI Law does not require mandatory notification of any transaction. Nonetheless, the prospective purchaser may, on a voluntary basis, request an ex ante confirmation that an opposition decision will not be issued. There is no official form for this request, but it must include the full description of the terms of the envisaged transaction. If the government does not initiate an assessment procedure within 30 business days counted from the date of the request, a non-opposition decision is deemed to have been issued.

If no confirmation is requested ex ante, a review of the transaction can be initiated by the government ex officio within 30 business days from the conclusion of the transaction or from the date it becomes publicly known.

Types of deals reviewed

Under the Portuguese FDI Law, the Portuguese government has the power to review any transaction that allows control over strategic assets, which are defined as the key infrastructures and assets related to defense and national security or to the provision of essential services in the energy, transport or communications sectors. There is no financial threshold for investments to be able to be screened under the Portuguese FDI Law.

There is no definition of "strategic assets related to defense and national security or to the provision of essential services in the energy, transport or communications sectors," which creates some uncertainty on the possibility of screening of transactions in these sectors.

Scope of the review

The review will focus on the nature of the business to be acquired and the parties involved in the transaction.

In the event a transaction is subject to FDI screening (based on the three requirements referred to above), the criteria that will guide whether the government opposes the transaction include, among other factors, the track record of the buyer and the country in which the buyer is domiciled or to which it is in some way linked. The Portuguese FDI Law gives examples of some situations where it will assume a threat to the defense, national security of security of supply of essential services exists. According to the law, transactions that result, directly or indirectly, in the acquisition of control, directly or indirectly, by a person or persons from countries outside the European Union are likely to jeopardize national defense and security, when:

  • There are serious indications, based on objective elements, of the existence of links between the buyer and third countries that do not recognize or respect the fundamental principles of the democratic rule of law, which represent a risk to the international community as a result of the nature of their alliances or who maintain relations with criminal or terrorist organizations or with persons linked to such organizations, taking into account the official positions of the European Union in these matters
  • The buyer has, in the past, used the controlling position held over other assets to create serious difficulties for the regular provision of essential public services in the country in which they were located, as well as neighboring countries, or does not guarantee the main allocation of the assets, as well as their reversal at the end of the corresponding concessions, when they exist, namely taking into account the lack of adequate contractual provisions for this purpose
  • The transaction results in a change in the destination of strategic assets

If an opposition decision is issued, all legal acts and transactions relating to the transaction in question shall be deemed null and void, including those relating to economic exploitation or the exercise of rights over the assets or over the entities that control them.

Review process timeline

According to the procedure set out in Portuguese law, the process can take approximately 100 business days from the conclusion of the transaction or from the date it becomes publicly known. Specifically, the following procedural steps and timelines shall apply:

  • The review of the transaction shall be initiated within 30 business days from the conclusion of the transaction or from the date it becomes publicly known or upon application for an ex ante confirmation
  • Investors are notified to present the relevant information and documents about the transaction to the government member responsible for the area in which the strategic asset in question is included, within ten business days (the FDI Law does not provide for a specific deadline, and therefore the subsidiary administrative deadline shall apply)
  • The Council of Ministers, upon proposal of the member of the government responsible for the area in which the strategic asset in question is included, may decide to oppose the transaction until up to 60 business days from the complete delivery of the information referred to in the previous number (the absence of a decision within the same deadline counts as a non-opposition decision)

This procedure can take longer to the extent Regulation (EU) no. 2019/452 leads to the intervention of other Member States or the European Commission.

Any opposition decision is subject to judicial review by the administrative courts (the challenge of the opposition decision does not have a suspensive effect on the same).

How foreign investors can protect themselves

Investors can request an ex ante confirmation of whether a transaction will be subject to screening under the FDI regime. Investors shall consider, in their risk assessment of the likeability of screening, the sectors in which the target develops its activity, the essentiality of services provided by the target, its market share or on the impact of the transaction, among other factors.

Looking ahead

We are not aware of any transactions blocked under the FDI legal framework to date.

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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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