Direct Investment

23. September


Inward foreign direct investment

At year-end 2018, inward foreign direct investment (FDI) position totalled to 1,063, or 38% of GDP. Inward FDI flows were negative in the amount of 34.2 during the year.

The share of foreign investors’ equity holdings in domestic companies has increased in recent years, while debt financing from FDI-related parties has declined. Equity assets accounted for 56% of direct investment position at the end of 2018.

The largest FDI countries at year-end 2018 were Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. If FDI is measured by ultimate investor (the party at the top of the ownership chain, where control over companies is maintained through direct or indirect majority ownership), the US is the largest FDI country, followed by Israel and the UK. The US and Israel each own just over one-fourth of FDI position, and the UK just under 18%.

Inward FDI is largely concentrated in manufacture of aluminum, pharmaceuticals and holding companies. Just under half of FDI position are in holding companies. A large share of these holdings are connected to the aforementioned sectors.

Outward foreign direct investment

At year-end 2018, outward FDI position totalled to 612.2, and outward FDI flows amounted to 16 during the year.

Some 74% of total outward FDI was in the form of equity, while the remainder was in the form of debt financing between FDI-related parties.

Just over half of FDI was registered in the Netherlands, the bulk of it in holding companies.

The largest outward direct investors are companies connected to the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and equipment and machinery, as well as the fishing industry. Some 49% of outward FDI is in holding companies, most of it connected to the aforementioned sectors.


The figures in the statistical tables represent totals from summarised sectoral classifications, as well as the classification of Iceland’s largest FDI partner countries, excluding special-purpose entities.

Resident special-purpose entities amounted to 44.5 in both inward and outward FDI position at the end of 2018.

A further breakdown, including and excluding special-purpose entities, can be found on the OECD website. A link to that website can be found under “Useful links” here on this page. Data for 2018 will be accessible on the OECD website in mid-December.


Supervisor: Information Technology and Statistics |