Foreign direct investment, net outflows (% of GDP)

Definition: Foreign direct investment refers to direct investment equity flows in an economy. It is the sum of equity capital, reinvestment of earnings, and other capital. Direct investment is a category of cross-border investment associated with a resident in one economy having control or a significant degree of influence on the management of an enterprise that is resident in another economy. Ownership of 10 percent or more of the ordinary shares of voting stock is the criterion for determining the existence of a direct investment relationship. This series shows net outflows of investment from the reporting economy to the rest of the world, and is divided by GDP.

Description: The map below shows how Foreign direct investment, net outflows (% of GDP) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Luxembourg, with a value of 270.39. The country with the lowest value in the world is Malta, with a value of -92.21.

Source: International Monetary Fund, Balance of Payments database, supplemented by data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and official national sources.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Private financial flows - equity and debt - account for the bulk of development finance. Equity flows comprise foreign direct investment (FDI) and portfolio equity. Debt flows are financing raised through bond issuance, bank lending, and supplier credits.

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.

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual

General Comments: Note: Data starting from 2005 are based on the sixth edition of the IMF's Balance of Payments Manual (BPM6).