A Foreign direct investment (FDI) is a controlling ownership in a business enterprise in one country by an entity based in another country.
Foreign direct investment is distinguished from portfolio foreign investment, a passive investment in the securities of another country such as public stocks and bonds, by the element of "control". According to the Financial Times, "Standard definitions of control use the internationally agreed 10 percent threshold of voting shares, but this is a grey area as often a smaller block of shares will give control in widely held companies. Moreover, control of technology, management, even crucial inputs can confer de facto control."
The origin of the investment does not impact the definition as an FDI, i.e., the investment may be made either "inorganically" by buying a company in the target country or "organically" by expanding operations of an existing business in that country.
Broadly, foreign direct investment includes "mergers and acquisitions, building new facilities, reinvesting profits earned from overseas operations and intra company loans". In a narrow sense, foreign direct investment refers just to building new facilities. The numerical FDI figures based on varied definitions are not easily comparableAs a part of the national accounts of a country, and in regard to the GDP equation Y=C+I+G+(X-M)[Consumption + gross Investment + Government spending +(exports - imports)], where I is domestic investment plus foreign investment, FDI is defined as the net inflows of investment (inflow minus outflow) 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. FDI is the sum of equity capital, other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown the balance of payments. FDI usually involves participation in management, joint-venture, transfer of technology and expertise. Stock of FDI is the net (i.e., inward FDI minus outward FDI) cumulative FDI for any given period. Direct investment excludes investment through purchase of shares. FDI is one example of international factor movements
The foreign direct investor may acquire voting power of an enterprise in an economy through any of the following methods:
Foreign direct investment incentives may take the following forms:
Governmental Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) use various marketing strategies inspired by the private sector to try and attract inward FDI, including Diaspora marketing.
The rapid growth of world population since 1950 has occurred mostly in developing countries. This growth has been matched by more rapid increases in gross domestic product, and thus income per capita has increased in most countries around the world since 1950. While the quality of the data from 1950 may be of question, taking the average across a range of estimates confirms this. Only war-torn and countries with other serious external problems, such as Haiti, Somalia, and Niger have not registered substantial increases in GDP per capita. The data available to confirm this are freely available.
An increase in FDI may be associated with improved economic growth due to the influx of capital and increased tax revenues for the host country. Host countries often try to channel FDI investment into new infrastructure and other projects to boost development. Greater competition from new companies can lead to productivity gains and greater efficiency in the host country and it has been suggested that the application of a foreign entity’s policies to a domestic subsidiary may improve corporate governance standards. Furthermore, foreign investment can result in the transfer of soft skills through training and job creation, the availability of more advanced technology for the domestic market and access to research and development resources. The local population may be able to benefit from the employment opportunities created by new businesses.
A 2010 meta-analysis of the effects of foreign direct investment on local firms in developing and transition countries suggests that foreign investment robustly increases local productivity growth.  The Commitment to Development Index ranks the "development-friendliness" of rich country investment policies.
FDI in China, also known as RFDI (renminbi foreign direct investment), has increased considerably in the last decade, reaching $59.1 billion in the first six months of 2012, making China the largest recipient of foreign direct investment and topping the United States which had $57.4 billion of FDI. In 2013 the FDI flow into China was $64.1 billion, resulting in a 34.7% market share of FDI into the Asia-Pacific region. By contrast, FDI out of China in 2013 was $18.97 billion, 10.7% of the Asia-Pacific share.
Foreign investment was introduced in 1991 under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), driven by then finance minister Manmohan Singh. As Singh subsequently became the prime minister, this has been one of his top political problems, even in the current times. India disallowed overseas corporate bodies (OCB) to invest in India. India imposes cap on equity holding by foreign investors in various sectors, current FDI in aviation and insurance sectors is limited to a maximum of 49% an 26% respectively.
Starting from a baseline of less than $1 billion in 1990, a 2012 UNCTAD survey projected India as the second most important FDI destination (after China) for transnational corporations during 2010–2012. As per the data, the sectors that attracted higher inflows were services, telecommunication, construction activities and computer software and hardware. Mauritius, Singapore, US and UK were among the leading sources of FDI. Based on UNCTAD data FDI flows were $10.4 billion, a drop of 43% from the first half of the last year.
U.S. FDI totaled $194 billion in 2010. 84% of FDI in the United States in 2010 came from or through eight countries: Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Canada. A major source of investment is the real estate, the foreign investment in this area totaled $92.2 billion in 2013, under various forms of purchase structures (considering the U.S. taxation and residency laws).
A 2008 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco indicated that foreigners hold greater shares of their investment portfolios in the United States if their own countries have less developed financial markets, an effect whose magnitude decreases with income per capita. Countries with fewer capital controls and greater trade with the United States also invest more in U.S. equity and bond markets.
In 2011, Rick Kimball, Gordon M. Goldstein, Daniel Zwirn, et al. created a study in behalf of Brookings Institution on the role and importance of foreign capital funds in the United States. The study reviews practices of Global Public Investors and recommends promoting of investment in U.S. infrastructure development.
White House data reported in 2011 found that a total of 5.7 million workers were employed at facilities highly dependent on foreign direct investors. Thus, about 13% of the American manufacturing workforce depended on such investments. The average pay of said jobs was found as around $70,000 per worker, over 30% higher than the average pay across the entire U.S. workforce.
President Barack Obama said in 2012, "In a global economy, the United States faces increasing competition for the jobs and industries of the future. Taking steps to ensure that we remain the destination of choice for investors around the world will help us win that competition and bring prosperity to our people."
In September 2013, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the Global Investment in American Jobs Act of 2013 (H.R. 2052; 113th Congress), a bill which would direct the United States Department of Commerce to "conduct a review of the global competitiveness of the United States in attracting foreign direct investment". Supporters of the bill argued that increased foreign direct investment would help job creation in the United States.
Foreign direct investment by country and by industry are tracked by Statistics Canada. Foreign direct investment accounted for CAD$634 billion in 2012, eclipsing the United States in this economic measure. Global FDI inflows and outflows are tabulated by Statistics Canada.
The UK has a very free market economy and is open to foreign investment. Prime Minister David Cameron has sought investment from emerging markets and from the Far East in particular and some of Britain's largest infrastructure including energy and skyscrapers such as The Shard have been built with foreign investment.