Outward foreign affiliates statistics
Data extracted in July 2019.
Planned article update: November 2021.
In 2016, the sales made by EU affiliates located outside the EU were greater than those made by EU affiliates located in other EU Member States.
Almost three out of every five persons employed by an EU affiliate in 2016 were working outside the EU.
In 2016, manufacturing activities accounted for almost 40 % of the extra-EU turnover generated by EU affiliates.
Globalisation patterns in EU trade and investment is an online Eurostat publication presenting a summary of recent European Union (EU) statistics on economic aspects of globalisation, focusing on patterns of EU trade and investment.
While another article looked at inward FATS, this article is based on outward foreign affiliate statistics. These provide an analysis of the economic impact of investments in EU affiliates abroad: for example, how many persons were employed by German affiliates in China, or what was the value of sales made by French affiliates in the United States. Note that the information presented in this article covers the business economy defined as NACE Sections B-N and P-S.
Statistics on foreign affiliates
For statistical purposes, foreign affiliates are considered to be enterprises resident in one country which are controlled by a unit resident in another. There are two distinct sources of information: so-called inward FATS which cover the activities of enterprises within the EU that are under foreign control, and outward FATS which cover the activities of EU affiliates abroad.
The globalised economy is increasingly characterised by intricate business networks. As a result, it can be difficult to untangle these complicated and often blurred chains of control. To do so, statistics on foreign affiliates are compiled according to the ultimate controlling institutional unit (UCI) — determined by proceeding up a foreign affiliate’s chain of control until there is no further controlling interest; by doing so, potential double-counting of the same affiliates (by several countries) can be avoided. In this context, control refers to the ability to determine the general policy of an enterprise by choosing, for example, appropriate directors. In practice, control is often difficult to determine and so the share of ownership is often used as a proxy. In this way, an enterprise is said to be controlled by an institutional unit when the latter (a single investor or group of associated investors acting in concert (together)) owns — directly or indirectly — more than half of its voting power or ordinary shares.
The analyses of foreign affiliates statistics by partner are based on a fixed list of countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United States, as well as offshore financial centres. Note that information for Hong Kong and Singapore is shown separately and hence these two countries are excluded from the offshore financial centres aggregate in this publication (to avoid double-counting).
Sales made by EU affiliates abroad
In 2016, the sales made by EU affiliates located outside the EU were greater than those made by EU affiliates located in other EU Member States
In 2016, a majority (54.9 %) of the sales made by EU affiliates abroad were generated outside the EU (in non-member countries). The remaining 45.1 % reflected sales made by EU affiliates in other EU Member States. Note that these figures are based on an aggregate for 25 Member States (excluding Bulgaria, Estonia and the Netherlands; including 2015 data for Italy) and cover the business economy (as defined by NACE Sections B-N and P-S).
British (71.5 %), Spanish (64.4 %) and Cypriot (61.1 %) affiliates recorded the highest shares of their total turnover generated outside the EU. By contrast, more than four fifths of the turnover that was generated by Polish, Lithuanian, Slovakian, Romanian, Hungarian and Czech affiliates was generated in other EU Member States (see Figure 1).
Almost three out of every five persons employed by an EU affiliate in 2016 were working outside the EU
A similar analysis is presented in Figure 2 with a focus on those people who were working for EU affiliates. In 2016, almost three fifths (59.5 %) of the total number of persons employed by EU affiliates were working outside the EU; once again these figures are based on information available for 25 Member States (excluding Bulgaria, Estonia and the Netherlands; including 2015 data for Italy) across the business economy. In 13 of these 25, a majority of the foreign affiliate workforce was found to be working outside the EU, with the highest proportions recorded among Slovenian (66.3 %), Spanish (69.9 %), Irish (70.2 %) and British (74.1 %) affiliates. In each of the remaining Member States, more than a fifth of their foreign affiliate workforce was employed in non-member countries (see Figure 2).
The remaining figures in this article (Figures 3 to 5) focus on EU foreign affiliates in non-member countries.
In 2016, the United States accounted for more than one third of the total sales of EU affiliates in non-member countries
In 2016, the United States accounted for more than one third (37.1 %) of the total turnover that was generated by EU affiliates in non-member countries; the next highest share was for China (8.2 %), followed by Switzerland (7.2 %), Brazil (4.9 %) and Singapore (4.1 %).
The picture was quite different when looking at the foreign workforce employed by EU affiliates: the United States accounted for more than one fifth (21.4 %) of the total number of persons employed in non-member countries (which was 15.7 percentage points less than its share of turnover), while the emerging, lower labour cost economies of China (11.2 %), India (8.6 %), Brazil (8.1 %) and Mexico (4.3 %) accounted for relatively high shares of the workforce employed by EU foreign affiliates (see Figure 3).
Turnover generated by EU affiliates
In 2016, manufacturing activities accounted for just over two fifths of the turnover generated by EU affiliates in non-member countries
Figure 4 shows that in 2016, turnover generated by EU affiliates in non-member countries was relatively evenly split between industrial and service activities. Note that the figure does not specifically show either of these aggregates. Industry is here composed of mining and quarrying; manufacturing; electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning; water supply, sewerage, waste management; and construction — together these activities accounted for 49.0 % of the turnover and 43.5 % of the number of persons employed by EU affiliates in non-member countries. The remaining activities in the figure are considered to be services.
Looking in more detail, manufacturing accounted for 40.9 % of the turnover generated by EU affiliates in the business economies of non-member countries, while more than a quarter (27.1 %) of the sales were made in distributive trades.
In 2016, manufacturing also accounted for the highest share (37.7 %) of the workforce employed by EU affiliates in non-member countries, followed by distributive trades (16.0 %). Compared with their shares of total turnover, administrative and support service activities (10.0 %) and accommodation and food service activities (5.8 %) were relatively labour-intensive, accounting for a much higher share of the workforce employed by EU foreign affiliates in non-member countries than their shares of turnover.
People employed by EU affiliates across different economic activities
Most of the people working for EU affiliates in non-member countries in 2016 were located in the United States
Figure 5 shows the share of people employed by EU affiliates in non-member countries across a selection of different economic activities . As already noted, the United States was the principal location for people working for EU affiliates in non-member countries in 2016, accounting for a share of just over one fifth across the whole of the business economy. Among the six selected activities in Figure 5, the share of employment in the United States ranged from 19.2 % for publishing, computer programming and information services to 28.7% for transport equipment, with the share for the manufacture of textiles and wearing apparel below this range (13.8 %). Among the activities shown, publishing, computer programming and information services was the only one where the United States did not account for the highest number of persons employed by EU affiliates in non-member countries, as more than one third (35.8 %) of this workforce was employed by EU affiliates located in India. Among the selected activities, the extraction of petroleum and natural gas and mining was unusual, as China did not figure in the top five locations.
The activities of EU affiliates in non-member countries were often quite concentrated across a small number of foreign economies: for example, just five partners accounted for at least two thirds of the persons employed by EU affiliates in non-member countries for the manufacture of transport equipment, for publishing, computer programming and information services, and for the manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products. By contrast, the five largest partners accounted for no more than 30.6 % of the total workforce employed by EU affiliates in non-member countries for the manufacture of textiles and wearing apparel.
Source data for tables and graphs
- Information for Singapore is included in the aggregate covering offshore financial centres for Figure 5 (contrary to the remainder of this publication where data for Singapore is shown separately and therefore excluded from the aggregate covering offshore financial centres).
- Structural business statistics (sbs), see:
- Foreign controlled EU enterprises - outward FATS (fats_out)
- Foreign affiliates of EU enterprises - outward FATS (fats_out) (ESMS metadata file — fats_out_esms)
Further methodological information