Legal Advice

Foreign Trade Law

German companies are more internationally networked than ever. On the one hand, this concerns the export of a variety of goods and services all over the world. On the other hand, German companies are attractive targets for investment and takeovers by foreign players. Most recently, the global crises of the recent past have led to an ever tighter web of national and European legislation through which companies must navigate in their cross-border activities.

Export control / embargoes

For ex­port-ori­en­ted com­pa­nies, the pro­vi­si­ons of the For­eign Trade and Pay­ments Act (Außen­wirt­schafts­ge­setz, AWG), the For­eign Trade and Pay­ments Or­di­nance (Außen­wirt­schafts­ver­ord­nung, AWV) and the EU Dual-Use Re­gu­la­tion are par­ti­cu­larly re­le­vant to the ques­tion of which goods may only be ex­por­ted with a li­cence. Howe­ver, ex­port pro­jects must also al­ways take into ac­count the so­me­ti­mes con­side­ra­ble re­stric­tions on for­eign trade (em­bar­goes) re­sul­ting from in­ter­na­tio­nal eco­no­mic and fi­nan­cial sanc­tions against in­di­vi­dual sta­tes or cer­tain per­sons, for ex­am­ple from re­so­lu­ti­ons of the Eu­ro­pean Union or re­so­lu­ti­ons of the United Na­ti­ons.

Investment control

In ad­di­tion, as the lar­gest eco­nomy in Eu­rope, Ger­many con­ti­nues to be an at­trac­tive de­sti­na­tion for for­eign in­vest­ment. Howe­ver, the ac­qui­si­tion of a Ger­man com­pany or the par­ti­ci­pa­tion in a Ger­man com­pany by a for­eign ac­tor is sub­ject to scru­tiny by the Fe­deral Mi­nis­try of Eco­no­mics and Cli­mate Pro­tec­tion (BMWK). This is be­cause the Fe­deral Go­vern­ment wants to en­sure that such for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments do not pose a th­reat to the pu­blic or­der and se­cu­rity of the Fe­deral Re­pu­blic of Ger­many. This endea­vour has led to a num­ber of si­gni­fi­cant tigh­te­ning of the le­gal re­qui­re­ments in Ger­man in­vest­ment con­trol law, es­pe­cially since 2017. Against this back­drop, the Fe­deral Go­vern­ment has re­cently in­ter­ve­ned in plan­ned ac­qui­si­tion tran­sac­tions on va­rious oc­ca­si­ons or has pro­hi­bi­ted them com­ple­tely. In ad­di­tion, the Eu­ro­pean Union has also crea­ted a le­gal frame­work since 2019 with the so-cal­led EU Scree­ning Re­gu­la­tion, which ob­li­ges the mem­ber sta­tes and the EU Com­mis­sion to coope­rate in their na­tio­nal in­vest­ment re­view pro­ce­du­res. The ex­ami­na­tion of the ac­qui­si­tion of Ger­man com­pa­nies by for­eign ac­tors has thus be­come con­side­ra­bly more com­plex wi­thin a few years. When plan­ning and pre­pa­ring cross-bor­der M&A tran­sac­tions, an early ex­ami­na­tion of the re­spec­tive re­qui­re­ments of for­eign trade law ac­qui­si­tion con­trol is the­re­fore es­sen­tial.

Control of third-country subsidies

In ad­di­tion, the EU Re­gu­la­tion on Third State Sub­si­dies Dis­tor­ting the In­ter­nal Mar­ket (so-cal­led For­eign Sub­si­dies Re­gu­la­tion) has been in force since mid-2023. With this in­stru­ment, the Eu­ro­pean Union wants to pre­vent state-sub­si­di­sed com­pa­nies from non-EU sta­tes from dis­tor­ting com­pe­ti­tion wi­thin the Eu­ro­pean sin­gle mar­ket. To achieve this goal, the re­gu­la­tion in­tro­du­ces, among other things, a prior no­ti­fi­ca­tion re­qui­re­ment for mer­gers above cer­tain th­res­holds. In cross-bor­der M&A tran­sac­tions, com­pa­nies must the­re­fore not only keep an eye on the re­qui­re­ments of in­vest­ment con­trol un­der for­eign trade law, but also check at an early stage whe­ther the scope of ap­pli­ca­tion of the For­eign Sub­si­dies Re­gu­la­tion is ope­ned up and whe­ther no­ti­fi­ca­tion ob­li­ga­ti­ons arise from this.

We pro­vide you with com­pre­hen­sive sup­port on all is­sues re­la­ting to for­eign trade and cross-bor­der busi­ness ac­tivi­ties. If ne­cessary, we in­volve our ex­perts from other areas of law (in par­ti­cu­lar tax, an­ti­trust and cu­st­oms law) and ad­vi­sory di­sci­plines.