BDI Opposed to More State Intervention in Foreign Direct Investment

The increase in investment from emerging markets is fuelling the political discussion about the possibilities for state intervention in foreign investments in Germany. BDI rejects the tightening of investment screenings. Germany should unequivocally present itself as an open country.

In mid-July the Federal Government amended the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance and thereby expanded the right of the state to intervene in foreign direct investments (investment screenings). Under the ordinance, the state is granted longer screening periods and the number of strategically relevant key sectors (such as the field of digital infrastructure) is increased. In these sectors, companies must register investments from third countries with the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs. 

"BDI rejects a foreign trade law that increasingly blocks investments. We demand that Germany unequivocally present itself as a country that is open for foreign investors. Investments create prosperity and jobs: some three million people in Germany work for companies that are in foreign hands," said Stefan Mair, a member of BDI's Executive Board.

Moreover, from the perspective of industry, the limitation of the freedom of investment does not constitute a suitable means of exerting pressure on countries such as China to open their markets. German investments in China continue to be some 30 times higher than Chinese investments in Germany. Thus the asymmetries in German-Chinese economic relations cannot be dismantled through prohibitions on investments. A suitable means of strengthening the openness of foreign markets are bilateral investment agreements. Such an accord is currently being negotiated by the EU and China. The BDI has drawn up detailed proposals on the substance of the agreement.

The amendment to the German Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance is anchored in the ongoing international debate on the right of the state to screen foreign investments. In the United States, a tightening of the already strict screening of foreign investments is being discussed. In mid-September European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has presented his position on the activities of the European Commission in this area. In the view of the BDI, the EU should launch a monitoring process in which the first task is to obtain reliable data on foreign investments in Europe.