In keeping with the rest of the European Union, in recent years, the Spanish government has instituted a wholesale revision of its previously restrictive foreign investment laws. With the exception of strategic sectors, up to 100% foreign investment is permitted in all sectors of the Spanish economy. Restrictions remain for certain investments of over P 500 million and some tax sheltered investments.
In 1998, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow was nearly $12 billion, up from $7.7 billion in 1997, and peaking at $37.5 billion in 2000. In 2001, FDI inflow fell to $21.8 billion. From 1998 to 2001 FDI inflow averaged about $19 billion a year, and in 2001 cumulative FDI stock totaled approximately $157 billion. The largest sources of FDI inflows in 2001 were, in order, Belgium-Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States ($1.5 billion, down from $11.24 billion in 2000), Germany, and Switzerland.
Outward FDI from Spain 1998 to 2001 averaged about $31.1 billion, and in 2001 cumulative foreign stock held by Spaniards totaled about $184 billion.