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Foreign direct investment (FDI) is a direct investment into production or business in a country by an individual or company in another country, either by buying a company in the target country or by expanding operations of an existing business in that country. Foreign direct investment is in contrast to portfolio investment which is a passive investment in the securities of another country such as stocks and bonds.
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 comparable.
As a part of the national accounts of a country, and in regard to the GDP equation Y=C+I+G+(X-M), I is 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. There are two types of FDI: inward and outward, resulting in a net FDI inflow (positive or negative) and "stock of foreign direct investment", which is the cumulative number for a given period. Direct investment excludes investment through purchase of shares. FDI is one example of international factor movements
Horizontal FDI decreases international trade as the product of them is usually aimed at host country; the two other types generally act as a stimulus for it.
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:
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.
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.
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 limit in aviation sector is maximum 49%.
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 U.S. in 2010 came from or through eight countries: Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Canada. 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.
White House data reported in July 1991 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."