Informe OBS Inversiones Extranjeras Hero

OBS Report: Foreign direct investment

Informes |

Foreign investment in Spain increases by 54%

Informe OBS Inversiones Extranjeras Portada



  • The cumulative figure for the first three quarters of 2023 was 21,232 million euros.
  • 51% of that total went to the services sector (especially healthcare and telecommunications), 45.5% to the industrial sector and 3% to construction.
  • The countries that invest most in Spain are the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
  • The Community of Madrid concentrates 68.5% of the FDI stock in Spain, with an increase of 92% since 2013), followed by Catalonia, the Basque Country, Asturias and Andalusia. In Madrid, Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia, employment linked to foreign investment accounts for more than 10% of the employed population.

OBS Business School publishes the report Foreign Direct Investment, directed by Professor Rodrigo Yagüe. It shows the investment trends in the different regions of the world, pointing out which are the most active, where they have directed their investments and which countries are being the main beneficiaries.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is considered an important factor in productivity and a pillar of international cooperation between economies. It creates long-term economic linkages that foster the development of countries, especially emerging economies. The benefits for the host country are most noticeable in employment generation, technology transfer, infrastructure development and stimulation of economic activity. However, it can also raise challenges and concerns, such as issues related to economic sovereignty, unfair competition or dependence on foreign investors.

What is the international situation

The current global framework for international cross-border investment is marked by geopolitical, economic and currency tensions that have increased investor uncertainty. Global investment flows declined by 12% in 2022 to USD 1.3 trillion, especially in Europe, where negative flows were driven by a huge disinvestment noted in Luxembourg. Without this transit country, flows in the EU exceeded $197 billion, increasing 2021 records by 29%. Spain ranked as the 12th largest global economy and third largest European economy in terms of flows received in 2022, with 34,811 million dollars. Asia, for its part, positioned itself as the most attractive region for investment, and its FDI is increasing every year.

In terms of accumulated FDI stock, ten countries account for 66% of the world stock, led by the United States (-20% in 2022), China (+5.2%), the United Kingdom (+0.3%), the Netherlands (-2.2%) and Singapore (+9.2%). Spain, with 787,311 million dollars accumulated (+0.6%), remains eighth on the European continent and fourteenth in the world.

Foreign direct investment in Spain

Spain is a very attractive country for foreign investment due to the size of its domestic market, one of its main assets. It also has a highly competitive foreign sector that places it at the forefront of international markets. In recent years, and within a framework of moderate growth in international activity and trade, the Spanish foreign sector has acted as an engine of economic recovery, contributing 2.4 percentage points to total growth last year. On the other hand, the containment of labour costs has contributed to economic growth in recent years and to consolidating Spain as one of the most cost-efficient locations for production. In fact, its average wage is 20% below that of the OECD. Moreover, it is a privileged country from a geostrategic point of view. In addition, Spain has fewer barriers to investment than other countries, especially since the entry into force on 1 September of the new regulatory framework RD 571/2023 of 4 July, which streamlines the resolution of authorisation applications, establishes a new system of exemptions, includes some interpretative criteria already applied by the authorities and establishes a new control framework for investments in national defence.

Investor confidence in the Spanish economy is shown in the figures: 21,232 million euros of foreign investment in the first three quarters of 2023 (an increase of 54%). In the case of productive investment, it rose by 167% (from €2,267 million to €6,070 million). Total foreign investment grew by more than 6.9%, and by 21.3% in relation to the average of the last five years (from 2019 to 2023). By sector, 51% of total foreign investment went to the services sector (especially healthcare and telecommunications activities for amounts of €1,814 million and €1,762 million respectively), 45.5% to the industrial sector and 3% to construction. The stock of foreign investment in Spain, which is the best indicator for analysing the interest that the country has generated in the long term, reached 787,277 million dollars in 2022, with a higher growth during the decade than that recorded in Germany or Italy in the same period.

The most active investors in Spain

In recent years, the most active investors in Spain have been the United States (107,965 million euros), the United Kingdom (63,063), France (60,600) and Germany (51,986), and almost 91% of these investments have gone to five regions: Community of Madrid (which concentrates 68.5% of the FDI stock in Spain, with an increase of 92% since 2013), Catalonia, the Basque Country, Asturias and Andalusia. All regions, with the exception of Cantabria and Galicia, have increased their investment stock since 2013, and in Madrid, Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia employment linked to foreign investment accounts for more than 10% of the employed population.

In the case of foreign companies allocating funds to Spanish companies, the Community of Madrid also ranks first with 7,579 million euros (63.2% of the total). In second place, Valencia stands out with 2,268 million euros of investment (18.9% of the total), Catalonia (825 million euros) and the Region of Murcia (372 million euros). Both the Basque Country and Aragon obtained higher investments than the average of the last five years (24.7% and 88% respectively), while Andalusia, with €156m, reduced it by 67.7%.

Content written by:
Carmen García-Trevijano
OBS Business School Press Office