Direct investment position of the U.S. in China 2000-2019

This statistic shows the direct investment position of the United States in China from 2000 to 2019, on a historical-cost basis. In 2019, the U.S. investments made in China were valued at 116.2 billion U.S. dollars.

Direct investment position of the United States - additional information

Foreign direct investment (FDI), simply put, is an investment of one company into another company located in a different country. It differs from a traditional way of investing into shares of foreign companies listed on a stock exchange. The companies which make foreign direct investment usually own a part of the company in which they invest and they have influence on the decision making process. In the United States, FDI is defined as an American investor (called the U.S. parent) owning a minimum of 10 percent of a foreign firm (known as a foreign affiliate). The total direct position of the United States abroad amounted to 5.95 trillion U.S. dollars in 2018.

Although the phenomenon profits greatly from the technological advances of the 21st century, as well as from the cultural flexibility of today’s workforce, FDI has a long history, going back to the colonial empires. Not without critics, FDI is generally believed to bring advantages to the investing company, such as access to new markets and decreased costs of labor, materials and production facilities. The local economy can benefit from an infusion of capital, access to new technologies and engagement of native labor pool. There are three recognized types of foreign direct investment, namely horizontal FDI, platform FDI and vertical FDI, along with various methods of implementing the investment itself. FDI considered by many one of the motors of worldwide economic growth.

U.S. foreign investment abroad has seen a dramatic growth in the past decades. In fact, the United States topped a ranking of the leading countries worldwide in terms of direct investment outflows, worth almost 300 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 alone. Multinational American corporations, especially focused on manufacturing, have largely invested in facilities overseas, due to financial benefits. However, a large share of these corporations focuses toward not only supplying the U.S. market, but also the local markets in which they operate. In 2017, the country that received the largest amount of U.S. foreign investment was the Netherlands, with a little almost 936.73 billion U.S. dollars, followed by the United Kingdom and Luxembourg. Overall, the total amount of U.S. dollars invested in European states that year reached 3.55 trillion U.S. dollars compared to 1.68 trillion U.S. dollars a decade prior.

Direct investment position of the United States in China from 2000 to 2019

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Release date

July 2020


United States

Survey time period

2000 to 2019

Supplementary notes

In accounting, historical cost is the original monetary value of an economic item. Historical cost is based on the stable measuring unit assumption. In some circumstances, assets and liabilities may be shown at their historical cost, as if there had been no change in value since the date of acquisition.
U.S. direct investment abroad is defined as ownership by a U.S. investor of at least 10 percent of a foreign business. The direct investor is known as a U.S. parent, and the U.S.-owned foreign business is known as a foreign affiliate. International transactions statistics cover the foreign affiliates’ transactions with their U.S. parents, so these statistics focus on the U.S. parent’s share, or interest, in its affiliates rather than on the affiliates’ overall size or level of operations. The major items include capital flows, which measure the funds that U.S. parents provide to their foreign affiliates, and income, which measures the return on those funds. Direct investment position statistics are stocks and are cumulative; they measure the total outstanding level of U.S. direct investment abroad at year end.

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