Foreign direct investment

Global FDI down by 2 per cent in 2016
The United States of America was host to FDI of US$391 billion
Developing economies received two third more FDI than they initiated
Declining importance of developing economies as FDI targets
Foreign direct investment inflows, 2016 (Percentage of gross domestic product)

Trends and global patterns of inflows

In 2016, global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows fell by 2 per cent to US$1.75 trillion, after a considerable increase of one third, the previous year. FDI inflows in 2016 were particularly low, compared to GDP, in most developing economies and in large parts of Europe. By contrast, several economies in Central America, Middle Africa, Central and South-East Asia as well as in the north-west of Europe received inflows greater than 5 per cent of GDP. In some smaller economies, such as Luxembourg, Hong Kong SAR or Singapore, and especially in a number of small island economies, the ratio of FDI inflows to GDP was very high.

In absolute terms, the largest recipient of FDI in 2016 was the United States of America, where inflows reached US$391 billion, followed by the United Kingdom (US$254 billion) and China (US$134 billion).

Figure 1World foreign direct investment inflows (Billions of United States dollars)

Note: Excluding financial centres in the Caribbean (see the note to table 1 below).

Inflows and outflows by economic group

In developing economies, total FDI inflows were larger than total FDI outflows, with inflows exceeding outflows by two thirds, more or less the same rate as in 2011. The outflows from American developing economies were negligible in 2016. In transition economies, inflows were almost three times as high as outflows, mainly as a result of a considerable reduction of outflows over recent years. By contrast, for developed economies FDI outflows exceeded inflows.

Figure 2Foreign direct investment inflows and outflows, 2016 (Billions of United States dollars)

Note: Excluding financial centres in the Caribbean (see the note to table 1 below).

Origins and destinations of foreign direct investment

In 2016, developing economies attracted one third of global FDI inflows. This share had been over 50 per cent in 2014 but has shrunk over the last two years. In 2016, one quarter of global FDI was directed to developing economies in Asia and Oceania and less than 10 per cent to developing economies in Africa and America, each. Looking at the origins of global FDI, around 70 per cent were initiated by investors from developed economies. Out of these, 35 per cent originated from Europe and 25 per cent from Northern America. 1

1
For further analyses on that topic, see UNCTAD (2017b).
Figure 3Selected foreign direct investment flows (Percentage of world total)

Note: Excluding financial centres in the Caribbean (see the note to table 1 below).

Summary tables

Table 1

Foreign direct investment flows by group of economies

Group of economies

Inflows

Outflows

Value

Ratio to GDP

Value

Ratio to GDP

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

2011

2016

2011

2016

2011

2016

2011

2016

World

1 591

1 746

2.2

2.3

1 576

1 452

2.2

1.9

Developing economies

688

646

2.7

2.1

390

383

1.6

1.3

Developing economies: Africa

66

59

3.1

2.7

23

18

1.2

1.0

Developing economies: America

194

142

3.3

2.5

48

1

0.8

0.0

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

428

445

2.5

2.0

320

365

1.9

1.7

Transition economies

79

68

2.9

3.6

56

25

2.1

1.4

Developed economies

824

1 032

1.8

2.3

1 130

1 044

2.5

2.4

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

564

512

3.2

2.7

316

200

1.8

1.1

Developing economies excluding LDCs

649

608

2.6

2.1

370

372

1.5

1.3

LDCs

39

38

5.0

3.6

20

12

4.2

2.0

LLDCs

36

24

5.6

3.3

6

-2

1.4

-0.5

SIDS (UNCTAD)

2

2

3.2

3.3

0

0

0.4

-0.3

HIPCs (IMF)

26

23

5.8

4.2

1

1

0.3

0.3

BRICS

297

277

2.1

1.6

147

206

1.0

1.2

G20

897

1 147

1.6

1.9

1 041

851

1.8

1.4

Note: Excluding financial centres in the Caribbean, namely: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, CuraƧao, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Island.

Find the data on UNCTADstat
Table 2

Foreign direct investment stock by group of economies

Group of economies

Inward stock

Outward stock

Value

Ratio to GDP

Value

Ratio to GDP

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

2011

2016

2011

2016

2011

2016

2011

2016

World

20 953

26 728

29

35

21 370

26 160

29

35

Developing economies

6 413

9 078

25

30

3 412

5 809

14

20

Developing economies: Africa

634

837

29

38

151

269

8

14

Developing economies: America

1 640

1 960

28

34

446

569

8

10

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

4 138

6 281

24

28

2 815

4 970

16

23

Transition economies

688

730

25

39

356

389

13

22

Developed economies

13 850

16 917

31

38

17 602

19 962

39

45

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

5 701

7 723

32

41

2 987

4 528

17

25

Developing economies excluding LDCs

6 225

8 752

25

30

3 394

5 763

14

20

LDCs

188

326

24

33

18

45

3

7

LLDCs

222

330

34

49

36

45

7

10

SIDS (UNCTAD)

37

45

52

64

3

3

4

4

HIPCs (IMF)

144

276

32

50

11

15

3

4

BRICS

2 136

2 815

15

17

1 107

2 106

8

12

G20

11 610

15 282

21

26

13 206

16 712

23

28

Note: Excluding financial centres in the Caribbean (see the note to table 1 above).

Find the data on UNCTADstat
Table 3

Foreign direct investment inflows, top 20 host economies, 2016

Economy
(Ranked by inflow value)

Inflows

Inward stock

Value

Ratio to GDP

Ratio to GDP

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

United States

391

2.1

34

United Kingdom

254

9.8

46

China

134

1.2

12

China, Hong Kong SAR

108

33.7

496

Netherlands

92

12.0

105

Singapore

62

20.9

372

British Virgin Islandsa

59

6 243.3

66 948

Brazil

59

3.3

35

Australia

48

3.8

45

Cayman Islands a

45

1 184.2

9 311

India

44

2.0

14

Russian Federation

38

2.9

30

Canada

34

2.2

62

Belgium

33

7.1

101

Italy

29

1.6

19

France

28

1.2

28

Luxembourg

27

46.1

421

Mexico

27

2.6

47

Ireland

22

7.6

286

Sweden

20

3.8

57

a
Financial centre in the Caribbean.
Find the data on UNCTADstat
Table 4

Foreign direct investment outflows, top 20 home economies, 2016

Economy
(Ranked by outflow value)

Outflows

Outward stock

Value

Ratio to GDP

Ratio to GDP

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

United States

299

1.6

34

China

183

1.6

11

Netherlands

174

22.7

164

Japan

145

3.0

28

British Virgin Islandsa

95

10 017.3

91 570

Canada

66

4.3

79

China, Hong Kong SAR

62

19.5

477

France

57

2.3

51

Ireland

45

15.2

283

Spain

42

3.4

42

Germany

35

1.0

40

Luxembourg

32

54.3

395

Switzerland

31

4.6

170

Korea, Republic of

27

2.0

22

Russian Federation

27

2.1

26

Cayman Islandsa

26

677.8

5 398

Singapore

24

8.1

231

Sweden

23

4.5

75

Italy

23

1.2

25

Finland

23

9.7

52

a
Financial centre in the Caribbean.
Find the data on UNCTADstat