Investment Policy Monitor Issue No. 25 - The evolution of FDI screening mechanisms

21 Feb 2023

UNCTAD has released the latest issue of its Investment Policy Monitor (No. 25). It focuses on one of the most significant trends in recent investment policymaking: the rising adoption of investment screening mechanisms based on national security concerns. The IPM highlights some policy practices that can help enhance the predictability, transparency, and administrative efficiency of screening regimes. By reviewing different models and regulatory options it seeks to provide decision-making guidance for the implementing authorities.

Key findings include:

  • At least 37 countries introduced investment screening mechanisms for national security since 1995, aiming to protect sensitive sectors.
  • Most of them were adopted by developed economies from Europe (22). The others by countries in Asia (9), North America and Oceania (2 each), and Latin America and Africa (1 each).
  • The adoption and revision of FDI screening mechanisms accelerated in the second half of 2000s and peaked in 2020-2021 due to concerns about foreign takeovers in sensitive sectors after the global economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Investment screening for national security varies widely across countries but some regulatory alignment and harmonization efforts are ongoing within the European Union.
  • Over the past five years, the scope of "national security" expanded to include new economic sub-sectors, critical know-how and strategic technologies.
  • A balanced approach to policymaking in this area is important to address essential security concerns without weakening FDI promotion efforts for sustainable development.

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