Foreign Direct Investment in the United States

Overview by

FDI in Figures

FDI dropped in 2009 because of the financial crisis which weakened the global economy. There should be a mild recovery following the beginning of the recovery in 2010. The United States remains the world’s number one destination for foreign investment. In fact, the country continues to offer a predictable and transparent juridical system, developed infrastructures and an access to the world’s most lucrative consumer market. Consequently, it remains the world’s primary economic power, holds the first place in international finance and is the third most populated country in the world.


Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

  United States OECD Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 7.0 6.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 9.0 5.2 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 9.0 6.8 5.0
Index of Investor Protection**** 8.3 6.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action. **** The Greater the Index, the Higher the Level of Investor Protection.

Foreign Direct Investment 2007 2008 2009
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 265,957 324,560 129,883
FDI Stock (million USD) 3,596,885 2,552,572 3,120,583
Performance Index*, Ranking on 141 Economies 116 99 118
Potential Index**, Ranking on 141 Economies 1 1 -
Number of Greenfield Investments*** 864 970 1,220
FDI Inwards (in % of GFCF****) 10.7 12.8 7.6
FDI Stock (in % of GDP) 26.1 17.9 21.9

Source: UNCTAD

Note: * The UNCTAD Inward FDI Performance Index is Based on a Ratio of the Country's Share in Global FDI Inflows and its Share in Global GDP. ** The UNCTAD Inward FDI Potential Index is Based on 12 Economic and Structural Variables Such as GDP, Foreign Trade, FDI, Infrastructures, Energy Use, R&D, Education, Country Risk. *** Green Field Investments Are a Form of Foreign Direct Investment Where a Parent Company Starts a New Venture in a Foreign Country By Constructing New Operational Facilities From the Ground Up. **** Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) Measures the Value of Additions to Fixed Assets Purchased By Business, Government and Households Less Disposals of Fixed Assets Sold Off or Scrapped.

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Why You Should Choose to Invest in the United States

Strong Points
The American market has several advantages. With a population of more than 300 million people and the world's strongest economy, the United States represents the most important market in the world, irrespective of the sector. The American manpower is considered to have a high level of qualification and to be one of the most productive and most innovative in the world. The United States has developed strong regional "clusters", which are a collection of companies in the same activity sector in a zone. These centers are very attractive to foreign investors.
Weak Points
The country's weak points are a very competitive economy and a financial system that has been seriously affected by the financial crisis. The American economy is in grave difficulty. The subprime lending crisis has ended some major investment projects.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The American policies on taxation and regulations provide foreign investors with a lot of management freedom.  However, in the present security environment, foreign-government controlled investments are sometimes considered as a source of concern, more and more so since the tragic September 11 th events.

The American Ministry of External trade provides a Invest in America: Guide to Federal Incentives and Programs Available to Investors, which gives information, programs and appropriate federal agencies .
Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By the United States
USA is a signatory to 46 conventions.
UNCTAD allows you to visualize the list of conventions signed by USA, and to download these conventions.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Acquisition of Holdings
A majority holding interest in stock of a local company is legal in the US (with a few exceptions).
Obligation to Declare
The reference text for foreign investments is the International Investment Survey Act of 1976. Each State has its own regulation aiming at or having an incidence on Foreign Direct Investments and of which the inspiration is more or less liberal.
Competent Organization For the Declaration
International Trade Administration
Requests For Specific Authorizations
Investments shall be governed by sector specific policies and procedures.
Find Investment Service Providers in the United States on

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Investment Opportunities

Investment Aid Agency
EDA (Economic Development Administration)
Development (depending on the Department of Agriculture - USDA)
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
USA Export Import, USA Government Procurement
Tenders Info, Tenders in United States
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide
Other Useful Resources
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

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