2015: A Banner Year for #FDIintheUSA

August 11, 2016

By Elizabeth Schaefer, Director of Investment Analysis, SelectUSA

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As SelectUSA’s resident economist, I am responsible for leading data, evaluation, and analytical work relating to foreign direct investment (FDI) promotion in the United States. So it was with great interest that I reviewed the newly released preliminary 2014 and revised 2013 FDI activity data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which follows the July release of 2015 FDI Inward Stock data measured by ultimate beneficial owner (UBO).

This updated data provides a picture of the inward flow of FDI into the United States, as well as the economic activity of U.S. affiliates of foreign-owned firms. The numbers reflect continued steady growth in productive FDI in the United States, and provide insight into the direct jobs, average compensation, and exports supported by FDI.

But as always, it makes most sense to start at the beginning.

FDI Definition and Parameters

Foreign direct investment, as defined by BEA, generally captures a long-term relationship with the management of a foreign enterprise which is usually linked with the real output of the country in which it operates.

Sources of FDI in the United States

 World map

The latest available 2015 data show the continued strong investment relationship with markets such as the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and Germany, which are historically large sources of investment into the United States. In fact, these top four sources of direct investment alone account for the majority of FDI in the United States. The top four fastest-growing sources of FDI in the United States, calculated by looking at 2010-2015 compound annual average growth rate, are Argentina, Chile, China and Malaysia. In contrast to the largest sources of investment, these top four relatively new sources of investment make up less than 1 percent of all FDI stock in the United States. It is important to note that these figures attribute FDI ownership to the market at the top of each investment’s ownership chain, the Ultimate Beneficiary Owner, rather than capturing investment passed through intermediate markets.



In 2014, FDI from majority foreign-owned firms was responsible for 6.4 million direct jobs in the United States, an increase of more than 1 million since the end of the 2009 recession. In addition, these are high-impact jobs. According to BEA, the average annual compensation per direct FDI worker in 2014 grew to $80,041.

Other Related Activities


FDI is also enhancing U.S. global competitiveness with increased spending on high-value activities such as research and development (R&D). The U.S.-based affiliates of majority foreign-owned firms spent nearly $57 billion on R&D activities in the United States.


Linkages between trade and investment also deepened due to growth in FDI. Exports of goods shipped by majority foreign-owned affiliates increased in 2014 to more than $425 billion, up from $360 billion in 2013 and accounting for over a quarter of all U.S. goods exports.

What’s Next?

This 2015 data is available in our SelectUSA Stats data visualization tool and updated activity data will follow shortly. A national level overview of FDI data is available on the SelectUSA website and updated country and state factsheets will soon be made available on the same page.

SelectUSA will host a webinar on the new FDI activity data, including state and industry detail, in the next month.

You can also follow our #FDIintheUSA campaign on Twitter!

For more information on FDI data and SelectUSA services, please send an email to info@selectusa.gov.

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