A foreign direct investment (FDI) is a controlling ownership in a business enterprise in one country by an entity based in another country.

Foreign direct investment is distinguished from portfolio foreign investment, a passive investment in the securities of another country such as public stocks and bonds, by the element of "control". The origin of the investment does not impact the definition as an FDI, i.e., the investment may be made either "inorganically" by buying a company in the target country or "organically" by expanding operations of an existing business in that country. An investment made by a company or entity based in one country, into a company or entity based in another country. Foreign direct investments differ substantially from indirect investments such as portfolio flows, wherein overseas institutions invest in equities listed on a nation's stock exchange. Entities making direct investments typically have a significant degree of influence and control over the company into which the investment is made. Open economies with skilled workforces and good growth prospects tend to attract larger amounts of foreign direct investment than closed, highly regulated economies.