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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: Sweden

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

7 min read

Since 2021, the Swedish Security Protection Act (Security Act, Sw. Säkerhetsskyddslagen) requires that any transaction involving a Swedish entity operating security-sensitive activities or assets must be notified and receive approval from one of the reviewing authorities before completion. This being said, Sweden still does not (yet) have a general FDI screening requirement for transactions not coming under the Security Act.

It is the seller that is responsible for the assessment of the applicability under, as well as compliance with, the obligations of the Security Act

Recent updates

  • After a proposal for a more general FDI screening framework was presented by the Direct Investment Inquiry (Sw. Granskning av utländska direktinvesteringar) in November 2021, many expected that a general FDI screening framework would be adopted during the course of 2022 and be implemented in 2023. However, no formal proposal has yet been put forward by the Swedish government or adopted by the Swedish parliament. Hence, Sweden remains a country without a general FDI screening mechanism
  • The Security Act has been subject to updates during 2022, but such amendments have not resulted in any major changes for the FDI screening process
  • In addition to the updated legislation, several of the 13 reviewing authorities under the Security Act have updated their internal instructions (Sw. föreskrifter) to ensure that their procedures correspond with the updated Security Act. For example, it is now specified in the instructions issued by the Swedish Security Police that the application for a consultation in connection with a transaction shall include a description of the intended transaction, a security assessment and information about the acquirer and its ownership structure

Who files

The notification under the Security Act must be submitted by the seller. The notification shall be submitted to the relevant reviewing authority, which differs depending on the target company's activities or, in case of a public entity, the geographic location of its activities. Moreover, it is the seller that is responsible for the assessment of the applicability under, as well as compliance with, the obligations of the Security Act.

The seller should first conduct a security assessment to identify the specific activities, assets or information that the investor may get access to following the transaction. Based on the security assessment, the seller shall determine if the transaction is appropriate from a security protection point of view. The assessment of appropriateness shall be documented. If the assessment of appropriateness leads to a conclusion that the transaction is appropriate, the seller shall consult with the relevant authority by submitting a notification including the underlying assessments and general information about the parties and the transaction. The transaction cannot be completed until such consultation has been completed.

Types of deals reviewed

A transaction must be notified if it involves a Swedish entity that carries out security-sensitive activities, has assets that are considered security-sensitive or has access to security-sensitive information, also known as classified information (security-sensitive activities). It falls upon the target company and/or its seller to assess whether the operations of the entity fall under the concept of security-sensitive activities. If the outcome of the assessment is that the entity's operations fall under the notification obligation, the seller must follow the notification procedure set out in the Security Act.

The obligation by the seller to notify applies to both Swedish and foreign (EEA and non-EEA) investors. Moreover, there are no specific thresholds with respect to acquired shareholding or control. The Security Act refers to the transfer of the whole or a part of the target entity. Only the transfer of shares in public limited companies is explicitly exempted.

The concept of security-sensitive activities, assets or information is broadly defined by the Security Act as activities that are important to Sweden's security or are covered by international protective security commitments binding for Sweden. Some further guidance can be found in the preparatory works to the Security Act, which mention sectors such as defense, law enforcement, energy and water supplies, vital infrastructure, telecommunications and transport that would be considered security-sensitive.

In order to trigger the need for security protection, the effects on national security must be material and measurable

Scope of the review

If the assessment of appropriateness leads to the conclusion that the transaction is not appropriate from a protective security point of view, the transaction may not be completed.

The reviewing authorities have the powers to block a transaction or approve it subject to commitments. Moreover, if the seller fails to notify a transaction that falls under the scope of the Security Act, a consultation procedure may be initiated ex officio and the transaction can be prohibited and held to be null and void, even post-closing.

According to limited and non-binding guidance issued by the Swedish Security Police, a transaction is considered inappropriate if the acquirer's access to the target's assets or operations may cause risks to national security. The target's operations or assets may also be of such a nature or such a significance for national security that a transfer of these to the acquirer is in itself inappropriate. Moreover, a transaction may be inappropriate if the acquirer represents foreign interests. The test is linked to a central question: What would the effects of a hostile action, such as an attack, espionage or an interruption of the target's business, products or services, have on Sweden's national security?

In order to trigger the need for security protection, the effects on national security must be material and measurable. For example, given that Sweden's population is largely geographically diverse and mainly concentrated in the Stockholm region, security concerns in relation to certain activities located in Stockholm will likely have a greater impact on national security compared to similar activities located in scarcely populated areas.

Review process timeline

There is no official timing for the review process. However, the reviewing authorities have an obligation to comply with general Swedish administrative rules, which require that the procedure is handled swiftly. A decision should normally be issued within one to two months, but there is no guarantee that this will be the case, and no direct recourse is available if a process is delayed. The Swedish government has stated that it is looking into this issue, meaning that this may be changed in the future.

How foreign investors can protect themselves

Although the Security Act has been in force since the 1990s, it has traditionally been a concern for a limited group of companies and government entities. The recent amendments, requiring certain investments to be notified, have thrown protective security issues into the spotlight of Swedish transactions. As the applicability of the Security Act is based on a self-assessment, target companies are now expected to be aware of the Security Act and whether it applies to their operations.

In view of the novelty of the notification obligation, there is limited guidance on the sectors and industries covered by the Security Act as well as the review process. A case-by-case assessment of the target is therefore recommended in every deal.

An investor who aims to invest in any of the highlighted industries (defense, law enforcement, energy and water supplies, vital infrastructure, telecommunications and transport) should anticipate an assessment of the target company's services or products, assets, information accessed or stored and customers in order to draw a conclusion on the applicability of the Security Act. As pointed out above, the responsibility for the assessment of the applicability of the Security Act as well as the notification lies on the seller and prior clearance should be a condition of any prospective deal.

Looking ahead

It is likely that a proposal for a general FDI screening framework will be put forward by the Swedish government during the course of 2023. If such proposal follows the proposal from the Direct Investment Inquiry, it will have a wide scope and enable the Swedish Inspectorate of Strategic Products (Sw. Inspektionen för Strategiska Produkter) to review and block foreign investments by non-EU, EU and Swedish investors in activities "worthy of protection." Such activities include security-sensitive businesses and functions that are fundamental to the society (similar to today's rules), and also dual-use products, critical metal and minerals, and the development of new technologies. Compared to the current screening, the new regulation could also apply a higher threshold for when transactions may be prohibited, and provide a more structured notification procedure.

According to the proposal, the current security screening regime regulated in the Security Act and the proposed FDI regime would apply in parallel, with no framework superseding the other. In practice, a deal involving security-sensitive activities could thus be subject to two parallel notifications. It remains to be seen if this burdensome mechanism is maintained in any forthcoming proposal from the Swedish government.

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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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