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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.

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.

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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: 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.


9 min read

In 2023, the Korean government worked toward easing regulations and amending the regulatory framework for FDI to be consistent with global standards. The Republic of Korea has made major strides in improving transparency and predictability, with governmental bodies proactively announcing forward-looking regulatory plans, while giving advance notifications for changes that may potentially affect businesses.

That said, it is worth noting that the foreign business community continues to face challenges due to Korea's complicated and country-specific regulatory framework. Investors should therefore carefully consider and stay up to date on FDI restrictions and potential upcoming regulatory changes when pursuing investment opportunities in the Republic of Korea.

Summary of major changes in 2023

  • As part of its 2023 FDI Policy Directive, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) proposed plans/initiatives to promote foreign investment through means of tax incentives and cash grants for foreign investors that invest in critical supply chains and strategic technologies, such as semiconductors, batteries and vaccines. No specific details of such plans/initiatives have yet been announced by the MOTIE
  • The Financial Services Commission (FSC) unveiled plans to lift the existing mandatory registration requirement for foreign investors, as part of its efforts to bring the regulatory regime in line with global standards. Starting from December 2023, foreign investors will be able to directly invest in stocks traded on any Korean stock exchange by simply providing their legal entity identifier (in the case of corporations) or passport numbers (in the case of individuals). The upcoming change aims to streamline the FDI process by replacing the current regime, which requires foreign investors to first obtain an investor registration certificate issued by the FSC before being able to directly invest in public companies through any Korean stock exchange
  • The Ministry of Economy and Finance announced partial amendments to the Foreign Exchange Transaction Regulations, thereby permitting foreign investors to make foreign exchange conversions with any bank of their choice without opening a new account. This means that foreign investors are no longer required to open designated accounts with a Korean custodian bank to exchange currency for investment purposes
  • The MOTIE announced partial amendment to the Act on Prevention of Divulgence and Protection of Industrial Technology (ITPA), which aims to broaden the scope of the application of the ITPA. The proposed amendments will result in strengthened review procedures for transfer of National Core Technology (NCT) and M&A transactions involving NCT
  • The MOTIE announced its plan to establish a notification system for pre-determination of entities in possession of NCTs and to reinforce the existing registration process

Governing statutes and regulations

All foreign direct investments are subject to either the Foreign Investment Promotion Act (FIPA) or the Foreign Exchange Transaction Act (FETA). If a foreign direct investment meets certain conditions and is made pursuant to the FIPA, then such investment is not subject to restrictions under the FETA. The MOTIE is the main government department responsible for the administration of foreign direct investments.

The ITPA governs the transfer of NCT to foreign companies as well as foreign acquisitions of domestic companies that hold NCT. The MOTIE is the main government department responsible for administration of foreign acquisition of NCT.

Further, the MOTIE enacted and put into effect the Regulations on Operation of Security Review Procedures for Foreign Investment, which additionally provide that when a foreign investor files a report for foreign investment or application for approval, the investor must indicate whether it is acquiring de facto control of the company and whether the transaction results in: concerns that production of defense materials may be hindered; goods that will likely be subject to export approvals or licenses, or technologies that will be diverted for military purposes; concerns regarding public disclosure of state secrets; concerns that international efforts by the United Nations or other organizations to maintain international peace and security may be severely and substantially hindered; or that it is highly likely that NCT will be divulged.

If the foreign investment is subject to security review on the face of the report or application, then the certificate of report on foreign investment will be withheld and foreign investment security review must commence.

Who files?

Notification must be filed by foreign investors whose direct investment qualifies as a "foreign investment" or their proxies. In case of notification filed by a proxy, a power of attorney must be submitted in addition to the notification.

Types of deals reviewed

All FDI that qualifies as a "foreign investment" as stipulated under the FIPA is subject to filing a report under the FIPA.

All FDI requires filing of a foreign investment report (FIPA report) with a "designated foreign exchange bank." Further, if the foreign direct investment involves a target company designated as a "defense industry company" by the Minister of the MOTIE pursuant to the Defense Acquisition Program Act, then such investment will require foreign investment approval (FIPA approval) from the MOTIE.

Foreign investments in a target company possessing industrial technology and NCT developed without government subsidies are subject to filing of a report with the MOTIE (ITPA report) before such investments can proceed. Foreign investment in a target company possessing industrial technology and NCT developed with government subsidies for research and development are subject to approval from the MOTIE (ITPA approval).

Scope of the review

For a FIPA report, branches, offices and trade agencies entrusted by the head of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency or designated foreign exchange bank will accept the filing when all information and underlying documents are provided.

For FIPA approval, the key question considered is whether the transaction poses a risk to national security, specifically: whether defense acquisition would be affected; and whether there is risk of technology being leaked which could present a risk to the economy or national defense.

In the case of FIPA approval, the MOTIE will consult with the Ministry of National Defense (in practice, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration) on whether to approve the application. The Ministry of National Defense will consent to granting approval if it deems that the relevant defense materials produced by the relevant defense industry company are replaceable by products of other domestic companies, or that granting approval will not post a significant risk to national security.

In the event the foreign transaction at issue is determined to pose a serious risk to national security, the MOTIE may implement various measures to mitigate the risk, such as issuing an order to suspend, prohibit or even unwind the transaction.

For an ITPA report and ITPA approval, the key question is similar: whether the transaction poses a risk to national security. In the event the foreign transaction at issue is determined to pose a serious risk to national security, the MOTIE may order various measures to address the risk, such as issuing an order to suspend, prohibit or even unwind the transaction.

Review process timeline

A FIPA report is routinely granted within one or two business days unless the industry sector in which the target company receiving the investment operates is subject to other restrictions.

In the case of an application for FIPA approval by the MOTIE, the MOTIE has 15 calendar days (with an option to extend the review by up to 15 calendar days) to notify the foreign investor whether the MOTIE approves the transaction. The MOTIE generally observes the review periods as stipulated under the FIPA.

For an application for an ITPA report, the MOTIE has 15 calendar days to notify the target company and foreign investor whether the MOTIE approves the transaction. If the MOTIE does not approve the transaction, it has 30 calendar days from the date of notice to order to suspend, prohibit or even unwind the transaction. Before the submission of a formal application, the foreign investor may informally consult with the MOTIE in connection with its application.

In the case of an application for ITPA approval, the MOTIE has 45 calendar days to notify the target company and foreign investor whether the MOTIE approves the transaction.

However, the above review periods do not include the period necessary for the authority to examine the relevant technology (which can take several weeks or months) and the period that the foreign investor takes to respond to potential requests for information issued by the MOTIE. Requests for information stop the review clock until a response is submitted that is deemed sufficient by the MOTIE.

For more accurate estimates of review periods, before the submission of formal application, the foreign investor can informally consult with the MOTIE in connection with such application. It is common for ITPA reports or approval processes to take much longer than 15 to 30 calendar days due to the technology examination process. Generally, an ITPA report takes one to three months, while ITPA approval may take up to six months.

How foreign investors can protect themselves

As of today, there is no publicly available list of a "defense industry company" currently designated by the minister of the MOTIE. The same applies to companies that hold NCT. Therefore, it is advisable to ask the target company whether it is designated as a defense industry company or whether the target company holds any NCT. The MOTIE does, however, provide a list of technologies designated as NCT on its website. Foreign investors will also likely benefit from the newly proposed NCT management system when identifying entities in possession of NCT.

Furthermore, it is common for either the target company or foreign investor to contact the MOTIE before filing an ITPA report or approval application or FIPA approval application to confirm the details required for such application.

The Korean government offers various channels of support to foreign investors. The foreign investment ombudsman handles all foreign investment-related complaints, while Invest Korea serves as an investment promotion agency and provides comprehensive services to foreign investors ranging from consultations, notification of investment opportunities, and establishment of corporations in the country. Invest Korea maintains 36 overseas offices and 64 investment specialists to assist potential foreign investors. It is advisable for prospective investors to make use of the resources available to them when seeking investment opportunities in the Republic of Korea.

"Looking ahead": Likely developments in the next year

The Republic of Korea continues to maintain a relatively liberalized approach to regulating foreign direct investment that does not involve defense industries or technologies that are designated as NCT.

In the year 2023, we have seen efforts by the government to further streamline the FDI process, and it seems likely that such trend will continue into the following years. That said, given the government's efforts to tighten its review on NCT, it is likely that foreign investors will continue to face stringent review with respect to transactions involving NCT. As such, it is advisable for prospective foreign investors to inquire with the target company whether it is related to national defense or whether it holds designated NCT before making any investment in such company.

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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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