Foreign direct investment, net inflows as share of GDP

What you should know about this indicator

Foreign direct investment are the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest (10 percent or more of voting stock) in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor. It is the sum of equity capital, reinvestment of earnings, other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in the balance of payments. This series shows net inflows (new investment inflows less disinvestment) in the reporting economy from foreign investors, and is divided by GDP.

Limitations and exceptions: FDI data do not give a complete picture of international investment in an economy. Balance of payments data on FDI do not include capital raised locally, an important source of investment financing in some developing countries. In addition, FDI data omit nonequity cross-border transactions such as intra-unit flows of goods and services.

The volume of global private financial flows reported by the World Bank generally differs from that reported by other sources because of differences in sources, classification of economies, and method used to adjust and disaggregate reported information. In addition, particularly for debt financing, differences may also reflect how some installments of the transactions and certain offshore issuances are treated.

Data on equity flows are shown for all countries for which data are available.

Statistical concept and methodology: Data on equity flows are based on balance of payments data reported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Foreign direct investment (FDI) data are supplemented by the World Bank staff estimates using data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and official national sources.

The internationally accepted definition of FDI (from the sixth edition of the IMF's Balance of Payments Manual [2009]), includes the following components: equity investment, including investment associated with equity that gives rise to control or influence; investment in indirectly influenced or controlled enterprises; investment in fellow enterprises; debt (except selected debt); and reverse investment. The Framework for Direct Investment Relationships provides criteria for determining whether cross-border ownership results in a direct investment relationship, based on control and influence. Distinguished from other kinds of international investment, FDI is made to establish a lasting interest in or effective management control over an enterprise in another country. A lasting interest in an investment enterprise typically involves establishing warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and other permanent or long-term organizations abroad. Direct investments may take the form of greenfield investment, where the investor starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities; joint venture, where the investor enters into a partnership agreement with a company abroad to establish a new enterprise; or merger and acquisition, where the investor acquires an existing enterprise abroad. The IMF suggests that investments should account for at least 10 percent of voting stock to be counted as FDI. In practice many countries set a higher threshold. Many countries fail to report reinvested earnings, and the definition of long-term loans differs among countries. BoP refers to Balance of Payments.

Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 20, 2024
Next expected update
May 2025
Date range
% of GDP

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The World Development Indicators (WDI) is the primary World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially-recognized international sources. It presents the most current and accurate global development data available, and includes national, regional and global estimates.

Retrieved on
May 20, 2024
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World Bank's World Development Indicators (WDI).

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Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data

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