We built the first comprehensive dataset on screening laws in all 38 OECD countries from 2007-2021, including qualitative coding across a range of characteristics. Unlike measures of FDI restrictiveness, we do not collapse coded dimensions into an index because screening features elide clear ex ante determinations of how much they restrict investment.
We begin in 2007, the high watermark of neoliberal economic integration before the 2008 financial crisis, the euro crisis, and the rise of China as a major foreign investor. We focus on OECD countries because they are advanced economies that - as a condition of entry - commit to pursuing broadly liberal economic policies and have transparent investment-related regulations. The dataset does not include China, whose history and political economy of investment regulation in the PRC is fundamentally distinct from those of market-based democracies. Our comprehensive coding of investment screening authorities uses publicly available OECD documents on FDI-related regulations supplemented with a variety of other sources.
We code countries as having an investment screening mechanism if (1) a legal mechanism is in place to approve or deny an investment in a host country business, (2) that mechanism has a clear and routinized process through which to exercise its authority. We focus our coding of each mechanism around seven characteristics, which we identify from field work and elite interviews with relevant officials as being especially important for mechanism design:
- Scope - sectors and business activities subject to review.
- Thresholds - volume and share of stake and transaction to trigger review.
- Foreign Government Control - differential treatment of foreign government owned entities.
- Net Benefit Tests - review criteria including general economic policy concerns.
- Pre-Approval - transactions requiring pre-notification or authorization.
- Monitoring/Enforcement - government power to monitor and enforce the rules.
- Screening Apparatus - which government agencies contribute to review.