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UNCTAD’s January Global Investment Trends Monitor

It contains preliminary 2023 estimates for foreign direct investment (FDI), greenfield investment, international project finance, and cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As). The Monitor shows that FDI in 2023 was weak, with lower flows to most countries and significant drops in project numbers. Some of the highlights: 

Global FDI flows in 2023 amounted to an estimated $1.37 trillion, a marginal increase (+3%) over 2022. However, the headline increase was due largely to higher values in a small number of conduit economies; excluding these conduits, global FDI flows were 18% lower.

FDI flows in Europe, net of large swings in conduit economies, lost a quarter of their 2022 value, with declines in several large recipients. Inflows in other developed countries also stagnated, with zero growth in North America and declines elsewhere.

FDI flows to developing countries fell by 9% to an estimated $841 billion. FDI decreased by 12% in developing Asia and by 1% in Africa. It was stable in Latin America and the Caribbean as Central America bucked the trend.

International project finance and M&As suffered the most from higher financing costs in 2023, with 21% and 16% fewer deals, respectively. Greenfield project announcements were also 6% lower in number. However, they were 6% up in value and showed higher numbers in manufacturing in a possible initial sign of recovery following a long declining trend.

Trends by industry in 2023 show project numbers rose in GVC-intensive sectors (+16%), especially in automotives, textiles, machinery, and electronics. In contrast, the number of projects in infrastructure industries (e.g. transport, power, water, telecommunications) fell by 4 percent.


New international project finance deals in the renewable energy sector fell by 17% in number and 10% in value, only marginally less than the overall project finance decline. The decline in the number of new projects was the first since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The number of international investment projects announced in developing countries in sectors relevant to the SDGs – including infrastructure, renewables, water and sanitation, food security, health, and education – remained flat. Project numbers in food and agriculture rose marginally from low levels in 2022; most other sectors registered a decline.

Looking ahead, a modest increase in FDI flows in 2024 appears possible, as projections for inflation and borrowing costs in major markets indicate a stabilization of financing conditions. However, significant risks persist, including geopolitical risks, high debt levels, and concerns about global economic fracturing.

FDI Global Investment Trends
UNCTAD’s January Global Investment Trends Monitor


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