Data on FDI flows are on a net basis (capital transactions´ credits less debits between direct investors and their foreign affiliates). Net decreases in assets (FDI outward) or net increases in liabilities (FDI inward) are recorded as credits (recorded with a positive sign in the balance of payments), while net increases in assets or net decreases in liabilities are recorded as debits (recorded with a negative sign in the balance of payments). Hence, FDI flows with a negative sign indicate that at least one of the three components of FDI (equity capital, reinvested earnings or intra-company loans) is negative and not offset by positive amounts of the remaining components. These are instances of reverse investment or disinvestment.
UNCTAD regularly collects published and unpublished national official FDI data directly from central banks, statistical offices or national authorities on an aggregated and disaggregated basis for its FDI/TNC database. These data constitute the main source for the reported data on FDI flows. These data are further complemented by the data obtained from other international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), as well as UNCTAD´s own estimates.
For the purpose of assembling balance-of-payments statistics for its member countries, IMF publishes data on FDI inflows and outflows in the Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook. The same data are also available in the International Financial Statistics of IMF for certain countries. Data from IMF used here were obtained directly from the CD-ROMs of IMF containing balance-of-payments statistics and international financial statistics. For those economies for which data were not available from national official sources or the IMF or for those for which available data do not cover the entire period, data from the World Bank´s World Development Indicators CD-ROMs were used. The World Bank report covers data on net FDI flows (FDI inflows less FDI outflows) and FDI inward flows only. Consequently, data on FDI outflows, which we report as World Bank data, are estimated by subtracting FDI inward flows from net FDI flows. For those economies in Latin America and the Caribbean for which the data are not available from one of the above-mentioned sources, data from ECLAC were utilized. Data from ECE were also utilized for those economies in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and selected economies in Developing Europe for which data are not available from one of the above-mentioned sources. Furthermore, data on the FDI outflows of the OECD, as presented in its publication, Geographical Distribution of Financial Flows to Developing Countries, and as obtained from their web databank, are used as proxy for FDI inflows. As these OECD data are based on FDI outflows to developing economies from the member countries of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of OECD, inflows of FDI to developing economies may be underestimated. In some economies, FDI data from large recipients and investors are also used as proxies.
Finally, in those economies for which data were not available from either of the above-mentioned sources or only partial data (quarterly or monthly) were available, estimates were made by annualizing the data if they are only partially available (monthly or quarterly) from either the IMF or national official sources; using data on cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and their growth rates; and using UNCTAD´s own estimates.