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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.

estonia fdi 2022


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.

ireland fdi 2022


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: Latvia

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


6 min read

Liga Merwin and Tomass Brinkmanis (Ellex Circle Law Firms) authored this publication

The law provides no general obligation to notify foreign direct investments in Latvia. Sectoral rules in specific circumstances will trigger notification obligations or block such investments regarding companies of significance to national security, critical infrastructure and agricultural land acquisition, and gambling.

Summary of major changes in 2023

  • The definition of companies of significance to national security has been expanded transposing provisions from EU Regulation 2019/452 to include:
    • Manufacturers, developers and exporters to non-EU Member States (except for the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, the UK, Iceland and Liechtenstein) of dual-use items as defined by EU Regulation 2021/821
    • Companies with access to the personal data of voters and candidates for members of parliament (the Saeima), which are not to be published in accordance with the law
    • Companies that process data sets regarding state-critical infrastructure systems, apart from financial market participants
  • The list of deals reviewed regarding companies of significance to national security has been expanded to include monetary loans exceeding 10 percent of the assets of the company, where the lender is a natural person or a company with an ultimate beneficial ownership (UBO) based in a non-EU Member State, with notable exceptions
  • The list of companies of significance to national security is now publicly available
  • 2023 has not brought notable changes in FDI regimes regarding land acquisition, gambling companies or the banking and finance sector

Who files?

For companies of significance to national security, the national security regime requires filing regardless of the nationality or domicile of the investor. Even potential investors based in Latvia are subject to review.

The exception to the above is where a company of significance to national security receives a loan exceeding 10 percent of its assets. In such a case, the deal is subject to review when the investor is a natural person or a company with a UBO not based in Latvia, or an EU, EFTA, NATO, or OECD member state.

An absolute ban has been introduced on Russian and Belarusian state companies, legal persons registered in Russia or Belarus, and Russian or Belarusian nationals from investing in such companies.

Irrespective of the type of investor (local or foreign), objects with "critical infrastructure" status cannot be transferred without the permission of the Cabinet of Ministers.

When it comes to acquisition of land, different FDI regimes are applicable to land in urban administrative territories and land in rural administrative territories. Only deals exceeding the volume of land prescribed by law require approval.

Companies and individuals based in Latvia and the EU Member States may purchase land in urban administrative territories without any approval procedures (no filing required). However, acquisition of land by investors based outside of the EU Member States must acquire approval.

Separate, highly detailed rules are provided for acquisition of land with designated agricultural use in urban administrative territories.

Land in rural administrative territories may only be purchased by individuals or companies based in Latvia, Switzerland or a Member State of the EU, EEA or the OECD. Such deals are subject to review.

Types of deals reviewed

Companies of significance to national security are broadly defined by law. However, the list of current companies with this status is publicly available online.

For companies of significance to national security, the Cabinet of Ministers must be notified and permission must be acquired for a number of activities.

In relation to capital companies, these activities are: attainment of qualified holding; attainment of decisive influence; transition of an undertaking; and changing of the beneficial owner.

In relation to partnerships, these activities are: joining of a new member; and changing of the beneficial owner.

Separate rules exist for loans exceeding the assets of the company by 10 percent.

The requirements for acquisitions of land and agricultural land does not apply to acquirers of agricultural land if the total area of agricultural land in the acquirer's possession does not exceed ten hectares for natural persons or five hectares for legal persons, or if the agricultural land to be acquired is the result of insolvency proceedings.

Regarding gambling companies, the share of foreign members or stockholders in the share capital of a capital company cannot exceed 49 percent. This requirement does not apply to investors from the Member States of the EU, the EEA and OECD. As this is an imperative prohibition, no review procedures exist.

Scope of the review

For companies of significance to national security and critical infrastructure objects, in determining the FDI review, the Cabinet of Ministers shall evaluate the restrictions on the rights of the person, its commensurability with the national security interests, and the opinion of a state security institution, as well as the conformity with the principle of legitimate expectations.

The Cabinet of Ministers may decide to refuse the permit if: the issuing of the permit threatens the interests of national security; the person who has submitted the application has failed to submit additional information or documents necessary for preparation of opinion of the state security institutions within the period of time set by the Ministry of Economics and the state security institutions; or the Ministry of Economics or the state security institutions establish that they have been provided with false information.

For the acquisition of land, the municipality council makes a decision based on all received information to evaluate whether the acquirer meets the requirements in the law, restrictions in the law are met, and indicated further use of the land is not in contradiction with the spatial plan or detailed plan of the municipality.

Review process timeline

The Cabinet of Ministers shall make a decision regarding investments concerning companies of significance to national security and critical infrastructure objects within one month from the moment of receiving the application. The term can be extended to four months.

Applications for change in agricultural land ownership will be reviewed within 20 days from the day of receiving an application in urban administrative territories. Applications for change in non-agricultural land ownership will be reviewed within 20 days from the day of receiving an application in rural administrative territories. Applications for change in agricultural land ownership will be reviewed within one month from the day of receiving an application in rural administrative territories.

How foreign investors can protect themselves

Rigorous legal due diligence is a must to identify FDI regulatory risks and other possible legal obstructions as early and accurately as possible.

Investors should make sure the contracts contain a contract termination clause should the relevant FDI permissions not be granted.

Processing times should be taken into account when submitting an application to the Cabinet of Ministers regarding companies of significance to national security or critical infrastructure. In the majority of cases, the Cabinet of Ministers reaches a decision within one month, but occasionally the decision-making process is extended by an additional month and can take up to four months.

"Looking ahead": Likely developments in the next year

As the political perception of national security interests continues to evolve in the wake highly sensitive international events, we can expect more rigorous FDI screening and expansion of the types of deals reviewed.

There is likely to be a more cross-sector approach regarding data protection and privacy, financial services, communications and energy, as well as FDI regulations aimed at sanctioning the Russian Federation and its citizens, and FDI regulations aimed at curtailing China's political influence in the region.

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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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