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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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: India

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


6 min read

FDI in India is regulated primarily by India's Department of Promotion of Industry and International Trade (DPIIT), under its Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regime. India remains one of the most popular FDI destinations in the world, ranking as the eighth-largest recipient of FDI in 2023, the third-highest recipient of FDI in greenfield projects and the second-highest recipient of FDI in international project finance deals according to the World Investment Report 2023. Attracting FDI inflows continues to be a priority for the Indian government, which is targeting total FDI of US$100 billion in the near future, according to India's Minister for Informational Technology.

Summary of major changes in 2023

  • India continued to be a major destination of foreign direct investment, having received a total FDI inflow of US$70.9 billion for the financial year 2022 to 2023
  • There were no major changes to India's FDI legislation in 2023

Who files?

There are two routes governing FDI into India: the automatic route and 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 that the investee entity operates in. 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 (RBI), 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.

Governmental approval is also required where an investor is incorporated in any country sharing a land border with India (China, Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh), or where the beneficial owner of any investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any of these countries.

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 several types of transactions, including 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.

It also governs investment into capital contributions of Indian LLPs; and 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.

Documents that an FDI proposal must annex include: charter documents of the foreign investor and investee entity; audited financial statements and tax returns of both the foreign investor and investee entity; diagrammatic representation of the flow of funds from the foreign investor to the investee entity; and 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 12 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.

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 in which they wish to invest, 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 on in the process.

"Looking ahead": Likely developments in the next year

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. For example, the government is in the process of relaxing FDI regulations in relation to the space sector, with reports suggesting that up to 100 percent foreign ownership of space-related corporations may be permitted, subject to the relevant approvals being obtained.

The Indian government is also targeting increased divestment from public sector companies. In 2021, foreign persons were permitted to invest up to 20 percent in the Life Insurance Corporation of India, India's largest public sector insurance company, pursuant to a regulatory amendment. Between 2022 and 2023, the government divested their stakes in several other public sector companies, including Hindustan Aeronautics, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Paradeep Phosphates. Further divestment from similar companies is expected to follow.

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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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