National security and FDI policy ambiguity: A commentary

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From Germany’s chipmaker Infineon’s proposed takeover of US-based Wolfspeed being blocked in 2017 to China’s Huawei being banned in the USA and other countries in 2020; from the UK’s new National Security and Investment Bill being announced in the Queen’s Speech on December 19, 2019, to the EU’s FDI Screening Regulation fully entering into force on October 11, 2020, inward foreign direct investments are increasingly scrutinized by host-country governments on the grounds of national security concerns. While FDI policy and screening regimes work differently in different countries, they share something in common, that is, ambiguity and obscurity have become key features of FDI policies for most countries when concerned with national security. Drawing on securitization and balance-of-power theories, I contend that the ambiguity in FDI policy is intentionally constructed to leave room for power struggles. I argue that ambiguity is an important prerequisite for politicians and other political and corporate actors to engage in the securitization of FDI to support their political and commercial agendas. This commentary contributes to a better understanding of the prevailing trend of ambiguity in relation to inward FDI policy, a reality that differs from that advocated by Cuervo-Cazurra (2018).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-505
JournalJournal of International Business Policy
Issue number4
Early online date11 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2021


  • FDI policy
  • national security
  • multinationals
  • securitization
  • politicization


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