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Foreign direct investment reviews 2024: A global perspective

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Understanding the ever-evolving global FDI landscape is crucial amid growing regulatory complexities in cross-border transactions


Now in its eighth year of publication, White & Case's 2024 Foreign Direct Investment Reviews provides a comprehensive look at foreign direct investment (FDI) laws and regulations in more than 40 countries worldwide.

In this edition, we continue to offer key datapoints that can help inform parties and their advisors as they evaluate the new set of challenges presented by FDI screening requirements in cross-border transactions that span multiple countries.

FDI screening is continuously evolving, in fact, maturing. Stakeholders in the process, in particular FDI regulatory authorities in allied countries, are communicating and learning from each other. It is imperative to stay on top of the FDI requirements as transactions—be it mergers and acquisitions, investments, public equity offerings, debt structurings or financial restructurings—are negotiated. Understanding the potential remedies that could be required for approval and proper allocation of FDI risk are key ingredients in avoiding unpleasant surprises related to timing, certainty and business plan execution.

The number of national FDI regimes and regulatory enhancements is growing around the world, particularly in Europe, with no harmonization in terms of process and timelines. FDI regulators, at least from allied nations, are collaborating and learning from each other.

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. There is increasing coordination in the European Union (EU) between FDI authorities with the support of the European Commission.

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 the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States' 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.



The Canadian government continues to scrutinize foreign investments by state-owned enterprises and state-linked private investors, especially if from "non-like-minded" countries.

canada fdi 2022


FDI, whether undertaken directly or indirectly, is 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 without mitigation, but the CFIUS landscape has continued evolving based on a combination of expanded jurisdiction, mandatory filings applying in certain cases, enhanced focus on a broad array of national security considerations, increased rates of mitigation, further attention on monitoring, compliance and enforcement, and a substantially increased pursuit of non-notified transactions.

United States of America



The European Commission continues to be a driver of FDI screening across the EU, with Member States now moving toward coordinated enforcement.

european union fdi 2022


The wide scope, low trigger thresholds and extensive interpretation of the Austrian FDI regime require a thorough assessment and proactive planning of the M&A process.

austria fdi 2022


The Belgian FDI screening regime entered into force in July 2023. In its early days, investors and authorities alike are coming to grips with the new regime and the guidelines that help parties navigate it.



A bill contemplating the creation of a foreign direct investment screening mechanism in Bulgaria is currently before the Bulgarian parliament.


Czech Republic

The new Czech Foreign Investments Screening Act took effect in May 2021, establishing the rights and duties of foreign investors and setting screening requirements for Czech targets.

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's foreign direct investment screening mechanism entered into force on September 1, 2023.

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FDI deals are generally not blocked in Finland.



French FDI screening continues to focus on foreign investments involving medical and biotech activities, food security activities or the treatment, storage and transmission of sensitive data. The nuclear ecosystem is subject to very close scrutiny.

france fdi 2022


Following numerous amendments over the past years, Germany's FDI review continued in full swing in 2023, with further significant updates expected in 2024.

germany fdi 2022


FDI screening in Hungary – forever changing regulation, no change in its importance.

hungary fdi 2022


Ireland is expected to enact its FDI screening legislation in 2024.

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Italy's Golden Power Law is now more than 10 years old and is continuously expanding its reach.



The law in Latvia provides for sectoral FDI regimes for specific corporate M&A, real estate dealings and gambling companies.



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



In 2023, Luxembourg adopted a national screening mechanism for foreign direct investments.



Malta's FDI regime regulates transactions that must be notified to the authorities and, in some cases, will be subject to screening.


Middle East

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

Middle East


The Netherlands, complementing its existing sector-specific regulations, has introduced a general investment screening mechanism to enhance the protection of its national security across a broader range of sectors.



The foreign direct investment regime in Norway is subject to upcoming changes, with further changes expected to come.



The Polish FDI regime – ambiguous rules, no blocking decisions and evolving market practice.



In Portugal, transactions involving acquisition of control over strategic assets by entities residing outside the EU or the EEA may be subject to FDI screening.



The Romanian regime regarding foreign direct investment appears to have become more stable in 2023, but continues to surprise.


Russian Federation

Russian laws regulating foreign investments have been considerably amended in 2023 to extend the scope of the laws as well as to strengthen control in this sphere.

Russian Federation


The new Foreign Investments Screening Act entered into force in Slovakia on March 1, 2023.



Since May 31, 2020, certain foreign investments into Slovenian companies can be subject to foreign direct investments review. Incorporation of new companies and business units can also be screened.



Certain foreign direct investments in Spain are subject to scrutiny under the Law 19/2003 (Law on the movement of capital and foreign economic transactions and on certain measures for the prevention of money laundering). These restrictions started back in 2020 and, since then, additional formalities have been introduced, specifically by the new FDI regulation, which entered into force on September 1, 2023.



In December 2023, Sweden adopted and implemented a new FDI regime, meaning that a general FDI screening mechanism now applies in relation to investments in certain Swedish businesses.



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 introduced new legislation governing FDI in 2022, which also captures domestic investment in certain sectors.




Australia's stringent foreign investment regulations, overseen by the Treasurer and FIRB, safeguard national interests and security. The framework, including the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and recent updates like the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement, emphasizes transparency and accountability, with new penalties and registration requirements enhancing oversight and compliance.



While restricting the data transfer relating to national security, China issued guidelines to further optimize its foreign investment environment. 



India continues to be an attractive destination for foreign investment, ranking as the world's eighth-largest recipient of FDI in 2023.



Certain businesses related to "Specifically Designated Critical Commodities" have been designated "core" sectors subject to Japan's FDI regime, FEFTA.


Republic of Korea

The Republic of Korea continues to welcome foreign investment, with the government actively seeking to ease regulations and update the regulatory framework to be in line with global standards.


New Zealand

After a number of years of amendments under the OIA from 2018 to 2021, New Zealand has seen a period of stabilization of the overseas investment regime. However, following the recent election and change of government in New Zealand, further changes are expected to better support investments in build-to-rent housing developments.

New Zealand


Taiwan continues to promote FDI under a two-track screening mechanism for foreign and PRC investors.


Foreign direct investment reviews 2024: China

While restricting the data transfer relating to national security, China issued guidelines to further optimize its foreign investment environment. 


7 min read

In China, the Foreign Investment Law (FIL) and its implementation regulations create the framework for the foreign investment security review (FISR) system. The Measures for Security Review of Foreign Investments further develop the scope of FISR. Nonetheless, the FISR measures describe the targeted sectors in broad strokes, leaving substantial room for further interpretation and clarification.

Summary of major changes in 2023

  • In March and April of 2023, along with potential anti-espionage enforcement activities, China released the revised Anti-Espionage Law to strengthen the national security regulatory regime by expanding the definition of espionage actions to capture the transfer of information related to national security and interests
  • Months later, to attract more foreign investments, the State Council issued guidelines with 24 specific measures in August 2023 to further optimize China's foreign investment environment. Specifically, to ease tensions between regulatory authorities and multinational companies over data security, the guidelines commit to explore a "convenient and secure management mechanism" for cross-border data flows
  • Echoing the commitment to cross-border data flows under the Guidelines and addressing the concerns of multinational companies operating in China, the Cyberspace Administration of China released draft Provisions on Regulating and Facilitating Cross-border Data Flow seeking public comments by the end of September, which provide certain exemptions for necessary business operations that would otherwise be subject to the stringent data export restrictions under the Personal Information Protection Law, such as certain transfer with respect to performing international services contracts and conducting human resources management

Who files?

According to the FISR measures, if a transaction falls within the scope of FISR, either the foreign investor or the Chinese party must file an application with the office of the working mechanism before the commencement of the transaction in order to meet the regulatory filing requirements. If the filing parties fail to file an FISR application and commence a transaction, and the FISR office determines that it falls within the scope of FISR, the FISR office has the authority to require the filing parties to suspend the transaction and submit an FISR application.

In practice, various regulatory authorities will closely cooperate with each other in monitoring foreign investment activities in China. For example, if an antitrust filing is required for a transaction and such transaction is likely to fall within the scope of FISR, the antitrust regulatory authority may share the relevant information of such transaction with the FISR office for further review and clearance before processing the antitrust filing. Based on the review of the relevant information, the FISR office may notify one of the parties to a transaction to submit an FISR application.

Types of deals reviewed

Under the FISR measures, the FISR office has the authority to review a broad range of direct and indirect investment activities conducted by foreign investors.

These include greenfield investments to initiate a new project or establish a new enterprise in China, either independently or jointly with other investors.

Investments involving the acquisition of equity interest or assets of an enterprise in China can also be reviewed. This category covers transactions between two foreign parties involving the indirect acquisition of equity interest or assets of a Chinese enterprise, such as share transfer at the shareholder level outside China.

The FISR office can also review investments in China through other structures. This category is broadly defined in order to give the regulator great flexibility in interpretation, and it is our view that foreign investments via a variable interest vehicle and public offering of Chinese enterprises through merging with special purpose acquisition companies (such as de-SPAC transactions) will likely fall into this category.

Given the broad definition of foreign investments, foreign investors should evaluate carefully before the commencement of a transaction to avoid FISR compliance risks.

Scope of the review

A foreign investment transaction is subject to FISR if: it involves sectors related to national defense and security, such as arms and arms-related industries or in geographic locations in close proximity to military facilities or defense-related industries facilities; or it involves sectors significant for national security, such as critical agricultural products, energy and resources, equipment manufacturing, infrastructure, transportation services, cultural products and services, information technology and internet products and services, financial services, and key technologies; and will result in foreign investors obtaining "actual control" of the target enterprise.

Foreign investors will be deemed to have "actual control" over a target enterprise if: foreign investors hold more than 50 percent of the equity interest in such enterprise; even if foreign investors hold less than 50 percent of the equity interest in such enterprise, such foreign investors can exert significant influence at the shareholder or board level by virtue of voting rights; or other circumstances under which foreign investors can exert significant influence over the operational decision-making, personnel, finance and technology of the target enterprise.

In addition, although not explicitly stipulated under relevant laws and regulations, the FISR office may consider the following factors in reviewing the FISR applications in practice: whether the foreign investor is, directly or indirectly, connected to any foreign government or any political parties of a foreign country; whether the Chinese enterprise involved has customers that are state-owned enterprises or entities in military, defense, financial, transportation or public utilities sectors; whether the products or services provided by the Chinese enterprise involved are otherwise readily available in the Chinese market; and whether the Chinese enterprise involved has access to the important data of its customers or collects any personal data within China.

Review process timeline

The FISR measures provide the typical timeline and process for the FISR review of a transaction. Upon the receipt of an application, the FISR office will make a preliminary decision on whether a transaction is subject to general review within 15 working days.

If the FISR office decides that a transaction should be subject to general review at the conclusion of the preliminary review, it will conduct and complete the general review within 30 working days of the date it made its preliminary review decision.

If the FISR office determines that a transaction should be subject to special review at the conclusion of the general review, the FISR office will conduct and complete the special review within 60 working days. Under special circumstances, the FISR office may extend the special review at its own discretion and will inform the applicants with a written notification. The FISR office will issue its final decision to applicants after the completion of the special review.

During the FISR office's review, parties to a transaction are prohibited from proceeding with a transaction. In other words, the FISR must be completed prior to the closing of a transaction.

How foreign investors can protect themselves

Foreign investors should continue to be mindful of the legislative and enforcement developments on China's national security regulatory regime, and pay special attention to transactions that might fall within the industries that are more likely to trigger national security concerns.

Foreign investors should be cautious when completing acquisitions before obtaining FISR approval, as they might be forced to divest the acquired equity interest or assets in China if the transaction ultimately fails the FISR approval process.

Due to enforcement uncertainties and the broad scope of captured industries, foreign investors interested in sensitive industries may wish to conduct a comprehensive pre-transaction analysis before proceeding with the transaction to avoid compliance risks.

Foreign investors may consider scheduling pre-application consultations with officials from the FISR Office to determine FISR risk before commencing the formal application process to reduce transaction uncertainties.

"Looking ahead": Likely developments in the next year

China has promulgated, in fairly recent times, a set of more broad and detailed laws and regulations to establish its national security regulatory regime, and the broad language in certain provisions of the FIL and the FISR measures, which leaves room for regulators to apply their interpretation and clarification on the operation of China's FISR system. Given the current and rapidly changing geopolitical situation, China will likely continue its efforts to promulgate additional rules to strengthen FISR implementation.

However, in view of the promulgation of the guidelines, more implementation of regulations and rules are likely to be rolled out to optimize the foreign investment environment in China, including improving the quality of foreign capital utilization, guaranteeing the national treatment of foreign-invested enterprises, strengthening the protection of foreign investment, improving the facilitation of investment and operation, and increasing fiscal and tax support.

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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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