Foreign direct investment (FDI) is defined as "investment made to acquire lasting interest in enterprises operating outside of the economy of the investor." The FDI relationship consists of a parent enterprise and a foreign affiliate which together form a Multinational corporation (MNC). In order to qualify as FDI the investment must afford the parent enterprise control over its foreign affiliate. The UN defines control in this case as owning 10% or more of the ordinary shares or voting power of an incorporated firm or its equivalent for an unincorporated firm; lower ownership shares are known as portfolio investment.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) plays an extraordinary and growing role in global business. It can provide a firm with new markets and marketing channels, cheaper production facilities, access to new technology, products, skills and financing. For a host country or the foreign firm which receives the investment, it can provide a source of new technologies, capital, processes, products, organizational technologies and management skills, and as such can provide a strong impetus to economic development. Foreign direct investment, in its classic definition, is defined as a company from one country making a physical investment into building a factory in another country.