IMF Publishes First Worldwide Survey of Foreign Direct Investment Positions

Press Release No. 10/510
December 22, 2010

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today released results from its inaugural Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS), the first worldwide survey of foreign direct investment positions. The results, published as an online database, cover investment positions at end-2009 for 72 participating economies. The survey will be carried out annually and the intention is to broaden coverage in terms of both geographical representation and breakdowns of the data.

“Policymakers and analysts will find the CDIS database an invaluable tool in assessing the patterns and volumes of foreign direct investment as well as the increasing interconnectedness of economies,” Ms. Adelheid Burgi-Schmelz, Director of the IMF’s Statistics Department, said after the launch.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is cross border investment where a resident in one economy has control or a significant degree of influence on the management of an enterprise resident in another economy. This category of investment is of large and growing importance, increasing the need to improve data about it. In 2006, the IMF’s Committee on Balance of Payments Statistics endorsed the CDIS proposal, and the IMF began work on the project after formally deciding to proceed in March 2007.

The database, available publicly at, presents detailed data on “inward” direct investment (i.e. direct investment into the reporting economy) cross-classified by economy of investor, and data on “outward” direct investment (i.e. direct investment abroad by the reporting economy) cross-classified by economy of investment. All participants in the CDIS provided data on inward FDI and most participants also provided data on outward FDI. The CDIS database contains breakdowns of direct investment position data, including separate data on equity and debt positions.

The CDIS database contains data that are consistent and comparable across countries in regard to concepts, coverage, valuation, and classification, in line with the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Benchmark Definition of Foreign Direct Investment, fourth edition. The CDIS survey has given impetus to participating economies to improve their FDI data collection. Nearly all participants have enhanced their FDI data sets, for example, by conducting surveys of FDI positions for the first time, expanding survey mailing lists, or more fully utilizing international statistical standards in designing their FDI data collections.

“This database is an excellent demonstration of countries’ willingness to improve the quality of their statistical data when there is a demonstrated need,” said Ms. Burgi-Schmelz. “I greatly appreciate the efforts of statistical compilers worldwide, and I compliment them for their highly successful efforts in improving their FDI data sets.”

The first CDIS data release comprises preliminary FDI data for end-2009. The IMF will post revised and more comprehensive 2009 data in mid-2011. At that time, the IMF will also release a number of additional tables, including “derived” data for all economies (i.e., data on FDI positions obtained by summing counterpart country data), which may then be compared to a country’s own estimates. Derived data often are useful in highlighting data gaps or errors, and therefore also where follow up examination may prove beneficial.

As recommended by the IMF Committee on Balance of Payments Statistics at its meeting in 2009, the IMF will conduct the CDIS annually. Conducting a CDIS on an annual basis will promote sustained improvements in the quality and availability of direct investment data. Participation in the CDIS is voluntary.

The creation of the CDIS database is a collaborative effort by the IMF and its interagency partners—including the European Central Bank, Eurostat, OECD, and UNCTAD— to facilitate improvement in the quality of direct investment data worldwide. The IMF is grateful to its interagency partners for their strong support.


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