Iceland

Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Report
July 19, 2018

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Executive SummaryShare    

Iceland is an island country located between North America and Europe in the Atlantic Ocean, near the Arctic Circle. Until recently, U.S. investment in Iceland has mostly been centered in the aluminum sector, with Alcoa and Century Aluminum operating plants in Iceland. However, U.S. portfolio investments in Iceland have been steadily increasing in recent years. Several U.S. brands and franchises have entered the Icelandic market recently, including Costco, Hard Rock Cafe, KFC/Taco Bell, and Krispy Kreme, and more are testing the waters. Iceland’s convenient location between the United States and Europe, a large number of American tourists demanding U.S. products, Iceland’s high levels of education and English proficiency, and general interest in U.S. products make Iceland a promising market for U.S. companies.

The booming tourism industry has grown by double digits in each of the last seven years. From 2010 to 2017, the number of tourists visiting Iceland increased by more than 470 percent. However, growth in the industry is expected to slow down in 2018 to 7 percent, with the projected number of tourists reaching 2.5 million. U.S.-based Carpenter & Company is currently constructing the first 5-star hotel in Reykjavik, which will be operated by the Marriott chain. There are additional investment opportunities in sectors that cater to tourists, as well as in the restaurant sector. A new consumer market is emerging along with the fast growing tourism sector, as the number of tourists in Iceland far exceeds the local population of 350,000. The number of U.S. tourists in Iceland grew by almost 380 percent between 2014 and 2017, and Americans are now the largest tourist population in Iceland, generating more demand for U.S. products. In fact, Reykjavik is now the third most popular destination in Europe for American travelers this summer, according to Allianz Global Assistance.

Information Technology (IT) has also been one of the fastest growing sectors of the Icelandic economy. Iceland's IT sector spans all areas of the digital economy. Data management systems, workflow systems, communications solutions, wireless data systems, mobile systems, Internet solutions, e-commerce content and solutions, gaming, healthcare solutions and of course fisheries technology systems are all exported to overseas markets. The Icelandic energy grid derives 99 percent of its power from renewable resources, making it uniquely attractive for energy-dependent industries. For instance, the data center industry in Iceland is rapidly expanding, with many data centers focusing on cryptocurrency mining and related activities.

The economic environment of Iceland has been characterized by low inflation and a healthy economic growth rate over the last few years (1.2 percent in 2012; 4.4 percent in 2013; 1.9 percent in 2014; 4.1 percent in 2015; 7.2 percent in 2016; and 3.8 percent in 2017). Economic growth has slowed down since 2016, with projected growth in 2018 2.9 percent. GDP amounted to approximately USD 20.3 billion in 2016, and preliminary numbers indicate that GDP was USD 24 billion in 2017, using the average exchange rate of 2017. Iceland also has very low unemployment at around 2-3 percent, and shortage of workers could inhibit further economic growth. As Iceland is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), residents from other EEA countries, mostly Poland, are immigrating to Iceland, helping to alleviate some of the job market constraints. Around 12-13 percent of the workforce in Iceland are foreign citizens.

The Icelandic government has taken the final steps to resolve the estates of the three banks that failed in the 2008 financial crisis and to lift the subsequently imposed capital controls. On March 12, 2017, the cabinet and the Central Bank announced that effective March 14, they would lift capital controls involving “foreign exchange transactions, foreign investment, hedging, and lending activity”. Some permanent prudential protections against foreign exchange instability will remain. This liberalization should help attract further investment to Iceland, and allow Icelandic companies the foreign exchange necessary to invest or expand abroad.

Table 1

Measure

Year

Index/Rank

Website Address

TI Corruption Perceptions Index

2017

13 of 175

http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview

World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business”

2017

23 of 190

doingbusiness.org/rankings

Global Innovation Index

2017

13 of 128

https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator

U.S. FDI in Partner Country (M USD, stock positions)

2015

USD 85

http://www.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/

World Bank GNI per capita

2015

USD 56,760

http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign InvestmentShare    

Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment

There is broad recognition within the Icelandic government that foreign direct investment (FDI) is a key contributor to the country’s economic revival since the 2008 financial collapse. Iceland’s growing tourism sector is expected to offer ample investment opportunities, but much work remains to identify investment-ready projects. There is a dire need to improve road infrastructure in Iceland, especially given the influx of tourists, and tenders for new projects in road infrastructure are expected to be announced over the coming months and years. Keflavik International Airport is also planning a USD 1 billion expansion in the coming years. Meanwhile, IT startups seeking investors are burgeoning, and foreign investors have expressed growing interest in Iceland’s retail sector and food sector. Foreign investment in the fisheries sector, however, remains restricted, especially when it comes to investing in fishing companies that possess transferable quotas.

While most energy producers are either owned by the state or municipalities, there is technically free competition in the energy market. That said, potential foreign investment in critical sectors like energy is likely to be met with demands for Icelandic ownership, either formally or from the public.

As part of its investment promotion strategy, the Icelandic government operates a public-private agency called “Invest in Iceland” that facilitates foreign investment by providing information to potential investors and promotes investment incentives. The government has stated its desire to attract FDI in certain priority sectors and has pledged to draft new policies to facilitate such investment.

The Act on Incentives for Initial Investments, which came into force in 2015 (https://www.government.is/topics/business-and-industry/incentives-and-investment-agreements/), is intended to “promote initial investment in commercial operations, the competitiveness of Iceland and regional development by specifying what incentives are permitted in respect of initial investments in Iceland and how they should be used.” The Act does not apply to investments in airports, energy production, financial institutions, insurance operations or securities.

There is significant debate, however, regarding the appropriate types and level of FDI in Iceland, particularly within the energy sector, with regard to job creation, and the environmental impact associated with certain projects. That said, energy-intensive industries that take advantage of the country's renewable energy resources, long dominated by aluminum smelting, have expanded to include silicon production plants and data centers. For further resources see: http://www.invest.is/doing-business/incentives-and-support.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The major law governing foreign investment is the 1996 Act on Investment by Non-residents in Business Enterprises, which grants national treatment to non-residents of the European Economic Area (EEA), of which Iceland is a member. The law dictates that foreign ownership of businesses is generally unrestricted, except for the limits currently imposed in the fishing, energy, and aviation sectors. Only entities with at least 51 percent Icelandic ownership can hold fishing rights. Non-EEA residents cannot hold hydro- and geothermal power harnessing rights, cannot manufacture or distribute energy, and cannot own more than 49 percent of an aviation company.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Iceland has been a World Trade Organization (WTO) member since 1995. Its last WTO Trade Policy Review was in 2012 (http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp373_e.htm).

The review notes that exports have exceeded and imports nearly recovered to pre-crisis levels in domestic currency terms. Overall, the structure of trade in goods has not changed significantly, remaining predominantly fish, fish products, and aluminum to members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). While Icelandic authorities have identified certain sectors where they believe Iceland has a competitive advantage, such as data processing, high tech development, and eco-tourism, investor confidence needs to be restored to attract further investment in these areas.

Iceland has not had an Investment Policy Review conducted by UN Cooperation for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Business Facilitation

Businesses are registered with the Internal Revenue Service in Iceland (http://www.rsk.is/english/). There is currently no online business registration process; all applications need to be filed in paper to the business registrar. The forms are only in Icelandic, and it is therefore necessary for foreign businesses to contract a local representative to complete the paperwork. New business registration, which takes only a few business days to process, is the only hurdle to establishing a company in Iceland. The website of the Business Registry in Iceland is http://www.rsk.is/fyrirtaekjaskra (Icelandic only).

Ninety-nine percent of all companies registered in Iceland are micro-, small-, and medium- enterprises (MSME). About 90 percent of these are defined as micro-sized, meaning that they have 10 or fewer employees. About 7 percent are defined as small enterprises (10-50 employees) and 2 percent are defined as medium sized (more than 250 employees).

The services offered by Invest in Iceland, an agency that promotes and facilitates foreign investment (more information at http://www.invest.is), are free of charge to all potential foreign investors. Invest in Iceland has also listed its page on establishing a business in Iceland (http://www.invest.is/doing-business/establishing-a-company) on the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s Global Enterprise Registration website (https://ger.co/). Its sister agencies, Promote Iceland (http://www.islandsstofa.is) and Film in Iceland (http://www.filminiceland.com), aim to enhance Iceland’s reputation as a tourist destination and as a destination for filming theatrical and television productions.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business website http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploretopics/starting-a-business#close Iceland ranks number 55 out of 190 economies on the ease of starting a business.

Outward Investment

The Icelandic Government, along with other stakeholders, promotes exports of Icelandic goods and services through the public-private agency Islandsstofa, also known as Promote Iceland (http://www.islandsstofa.is). Islandsstofa helps Icelandic businesses in the main industry sectors export their products and services, including fisheries (seafood and technology), agricultural produce (including organic lamb meat), high-tech products and solutions (software, prosthetics, etc.), and services (tourism). Islandsstofa has been very active in the United States and Canada in recent years, which has probably contributed to the dramatic increase in tourists from these countries and to increased exports to the United States during the same period. A trade commissioner represents the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in New York, facilitating exports to the United States and promoting business relations between the two countries. Iceland‘s two airlines, Icelandair and Wow Air, have expanded their U.S. service offerings over the past few years, facilitating bilateral trade. Islandsstofa also promotes exports to the U.K., Northern and Southern Europe, and more recently to Asia (China and Japan).

Until March 2017, capital controls that significantly restricted outward investment were in place in Iceland. The capital controls, imposed following the economic collapse in late 2008, largely prevented Icelandic investors and pension funds from investing outside Iceland. The nearly full lifting of the controls on March 14, 2017 will likely result in increased outward investment, particularly from pension funds, which have been accumulating capital.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation TreatiesShare    

Bilateral Investment Treaties & Free Trade Agreements

The United States does not share either a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) or a free trade agreement (FTA) with Iceland, although the two parties signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in January 2009. Iceland has signed BITs with Chile, China, Egypt, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico and Vietnam. Iceland and China signed an FTA in 2013 that came into force the following year. Iceland and the Faroe Islands signed an FTA in 2005 that came into force in 2006.

Iceland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and therefore has access to the Norwegian, Swiss, and Liechtenstein markets, as well as the EU market through the EEA Agreement. The 1994 EEA agreement unites the EFTA and EU member states into one single market with free movement of goods, capital, services and persons. The agreement further stipulates tariff free trade of industrial products that originate from countries that are part of the agreement, and reduced or eliminated tariffs, on processed agricultural products and seafood. Iceland has a bilateral agreement with the EU dating back to 1972 on reduced or eliminated tariffs on Icelandic seafood exported to the EU. On May 1, 2018, an agreement came into force between Iceland and the EU concerning reduced or eliminated tariffs, and increased tariff quotas on unprocessed agricultural products. As part of this agreement, Iceland dropped tariffs on more than 340 categories of unprocessed agricultural products, and reduced tariffs on more than 20 categories. This will leave U.S. agricultural products exported to Iceland up to 30 percent more expensive than products from the EU.

Iceland is also bound by Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with the following countries through its membership in EFTA: Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Chile, Egypt, Georgia, Hong Kong, Israel, Jordan, Canada, Columbia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Morocco, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Peru, State of Palestine, Singapore, Serbia, South Korea, Montenegro, South African Customs Union (SACU), Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Tunis, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Bilateral Taxation Treaties

The United States and Iceland have a double taxation treaty. An intergovernmental agreement implementing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in Iceland was signed May 26, 2015. The United States and Iceland signed a social security totalization agreement with Iceland, titled "Agreement on Social Security between the United States of America and Iceland" and the accompanying legally binding administrative arrangement, titled "Administrative Arrangement between the Competent Authorities of the United States of America and Iceland for the Implementation of the Agreement on Social Security between the United States of America and Iceland" (collectively the "Agreements") on September 27, 2016. The Agreements were transmitted to the U.S. Congress by the President on May 17, 2018 and are pending congressional action. Review and action on the Agreements is also pending in the Icelandic Parliament.

3. Legal RegimeShare    

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Icelandic laws regulating business practices are consistent with those of most OECD member states. Iceland’s laws are increasingly based on European Union directives as a result of Iceland's membership in the European Economic Area (EEA), which legally obligates it to adopt EU directives and law concerning the four freedoms of the EU: free movement of goods, services, persons, and capital. Because much of Iceland's financial regulatory system was put in place only in the 1990s, transparency is occasionally a concern (i.e. in public procurement, and in privatization sales where the process is established by the government on an ad hoc basis). In response to the financial crisis of 2008, the government is working to improve its regulatory role in the financial sector.

The Competition Authority is responsible for enforcing anti-monopoly regulations and promoting effective competition in business activities. This includes eliminating unreasonable barriers and restrictions on freedom in business operations, preventing monopolies and limitations on competition, and facilitating new competitors’ access to the market. The Consumer Agency holds primary responsibility for market surveillance of business operators, transparency of the markets with respect to safety and consumers' legal rights, and enforcement of legislation concerning protection of consumers' health, legal, and economic rights.

The system as a whole is transparent, although bureaucratic delays can occur. All proposed laws and regulations are published in draft form for the public record and are open for comment.

The Icelandic Parliament (Althingi) consists of a single chamber of 63 members; a simple majority is required for ordinary bills to become law. All bills are introduced in Parliament in draft form. Draft laws and regulations are open to public comment and are published in full on Parliament's web page: http://www.stjornartidindi.is and on the websites of the relevant ministries (often in English). Invest in Iceland also maintains an information portal website that includes information on industry sectors, the business climate, and incentives that foreign investors may find useful http://www.invest.is.

Iceland scores 4.6 out of 6 on The World Bank’s Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance index http://rulemaking.worldbank.org/data/explorecountries/iceland#cer_transparency.

Ministries or regulatory agencies develop forward regulatory plans, which are available to the general public. Ministries or regulatory agencies publish the text of the proposed regulations before their enactment on a unified website https://www.stjornartidindi.is/. However, ministries or regulatory agencies do not have the legal obligation to publish the text of proposed regulations before their enactment, nor is there a period of time set by law for the text of the proposed regulations to be publicly available. There is an obligation for regulators to consider alternatives to proposed regulation. Ministries or regulatory agencies solicit comments on proposed regulation form the general public, but the rulemaking body is not required by law to do so. Laws and regulations are published on both the parliament’s website https://www.althingi.is/ and separate website managed by the Ministry of Justice https://www.stjornartidindi.is/.

International Regulatory Considerations

Icelandic laws regulating business practices are generally consistent with those of most OECD members. Iceland’s laws are increasingly based on EU directives as a result of Iceland's membership in the EEA, which legally obligates it to adopt EU directives and law concerning four freedoms of the EU: free movement, goods, services, persons, and capital. Transparency is occasionally a concern (e.g. in public procurement and privatization sales where the process is established on an ad hoc basis).

Iceland has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since January 1, 1995.

Iceland and the United States signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in January 2009.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The Icelandic civil law system enforces property rights, contractual rights, and the means to protect these rights. The Icelandic court system is independent from Parliament and government. Foreign parties must abide by the same rules as Icelandic parties, and they enjoy the same privileges in court; there is no discrimination against foreign parties in the Icelandic court system. When trade or investment disputes are settled, the settlement is usually remitted in the local currency.

Under the Constitution, the courts may only pass sentences. Iceland has a three tier judicial system, consisting of eight District Courts (Heradsdomstolar), the Court of Appeal (Landsrettur), and the Supreme Court (Haestirettur Islands). All court actions commence at the District Courts, and conclusions can then be appealed to the Court of Appeal. In special cases the conclusions of the Court of Appeal can be referred to the Supreme Court. A new public agency, the Judicial Administration (Domstolasysla), along with the Court of Appeal (Landsrettur) began operating on January 1, 2018. There are 64 judges in Iceland, 42 in the District Courts, 15 in the Court of Appeal, and seven in the Supreme Court.

The Landsdomur is a special high court or impeachment court established in 1905 to handle cases where members of the Cabinet of Iceland are suspected of criminal behavior. The Landsdomur has 15 members — five supreme court justices, a district court president, a constitutional law professor, and eight people chosen by Parliament every six years. The court assembled for the first time in 2011 to prosecute a former Prime Minister for alleged gross misconduct in the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis; he was found guilty of failing to hold regular cabinet meetings during the crisis, but was not convicted of gross misconduct.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

Icelandic laws regulating and protecting foreign investments are consistent with OECD and EU standards. As Iceland is a member of the EEA, most EU commercial legislation and directives are in effect in Iceland. The major law governing foreign investment is the 1996 Act on Investment by Non-residents in Business Enterprises, which grants national treatment to non-residents of the EEA (including U.S. citizens). The law dictates that foreign ownership of businesses is generally unrestricted, except for limits in the fishing, energy, and aviation sectors. However, there are precedents of such restrictions being circumvented by non-EEA companies that establish holding companies within the EEA. Icelandic law also restricts the ability of non EEA-citizens to own land, but the Ministry of Interior may waive this. Foreigners own currently only 1.33 percent of total registered land in Iceland either fully or partially. The managers and the majority of the board of directors in an Icelandic enterprise must be domiciled in Iceland or another EEA member state, although exemptions from this provision can be granted by the Ministry of Interior.

There is no automatic screening process for foreign investors, although bidders in privatization sales may have to go through a pre-qualification process to verify that the bidder has the financial strength to participate. Privatization auction procedures are often ad hoc and with deadlines. Potential U.S. bidders in privatization auctions need to follow the specific process closely. There are limitations on foreign ownership of land as well as companies in the energy sector and fisheries. Investors that intend to hold more than 10 percent shares (“active” shareholders) in financial institutions are subject to approval from the Financial Supervisory Authority (http://en.fme.is/).

The government has a stated desire to attract FDI in certain priority sectors and has pledged to implement new policies to facilitate such investment. The Act on Incentives for Initial Investments (https://www.government.is/topics/business-and-industry/incentives-and-investment-agreements/) came into force in 2015 to “promote initial investment in commercial operations, the competitiveness of Iceland and regional development by specifying what incentives are permitted in respect of initial investments in Iceland and how they should be used.” The Act does not apply to investments in airports, energy production, financial institutions, insurance operations or securities. The capital controls imposed in 2008 and lifted in March 2017 have been the main hindrance to foreign investment in Iceland.

On June 4, 2016, new rules on special reserve requirement for new foreign currency inflows came into force. The rules restrict foreign investment in Icelandic bonds, in that those who invest in bonds or bills shall reserve 40 percent of the capital in a special reserve accounts within two weeks of the date the new inflows of foreign currency are converted to domestic currency or the reinvestment has taken place. The holding period is 12 months and capital flow accounts bear 0 percentinterest.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Competition Law No. 44/2205 is currently in place to promote competition and to prevent unreasonable barriers on economic operations. Depending on the turnover of the companies in question, the Icelandic Competition Authority is notified of mergers and acquisitions. The Authority may annul mergers or set conditions to prevent monopolies and limitations on competition.

Expropriation and Compensation

The Constitution of Iceland stipulates that no one may be obliged to surrender their property unless required by the government to serve a public interest, and that such a measure shall be provided for by law and full compensation be paid. A special committee is appointed every five years to review and proclaim the legality of expropriation cases. If the committee proclaims a case to be legal, it will negotiate an amount of compensation with the appropriate parties. If an amount cannot be agreed upon, the committee determines a fair value after hearing the case of all parties.

As far as the U.S. Embassy is aware, the Icelandic government has never expropriated a foreign investment. However, some private investors described actions by the Icelandic government before and during the October 2008 financial crisis (related to the takeover of three major banks) as a type of indirect expropriation.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Iceland has ratified the major international conventions governing arbitration and the settlement of investment disputes. Iceland accepts binding arbitration of investment disputes.

Economic Surveillance Authorities under the EFTA agreement have ruled that the 2008 emergency laws put in place when the Icelandic banking sector collapsed were legal. The U.S. Embassy is unaware of any other cases of major investment disputes involving foreign investors in Iceland.

Iceland is a member state to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (Washington Convention), as well as a signatory to the convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention).

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Iceland has ratified the major international conventions governing arbitration and the settlement of investment disputes. Iceland accepts binding arbitration of investment disputes. Economic Surveillance Authorities under the EFTA agreement have ruled that the 2008 emergency laws put in place when the Icelandic banking sector collapsed were legal. The U.S. Embassy is unaware of any other cases of major investment disputes involving foreign investors in Iceland.

Iceland is a member state to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (Washington Convention), as well as a signatory to the convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention).

There was a public dispute in 2016 and 2017 between hedge funds based in the United States and UK and the Icelandic Government concerning offshore krona owned by these hedge funds. The hedge funds had purchased Icelandic krona at favorable rates in the aftermath of the economic collapse in 2008, and when the krona started to appreciate again, the offshore krona holders were unable to exchange their Icelandic krona due to capital controls that were placed in Iceland after the crash. The offshore krona holders had been invited to sell their krona at auctions held by the Central Bank of Iceland at favorable rates, but a few hedge funds decided not to participate in these auctions and accused the Government of Iceland of discriminatory treatment. These hedge funds filed a case against the Government of Iceland at the EFTA courts, but later dropped the case.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Iceland has ratified the major international conventions governing arbitration and the settlement of investment disputes. Iceland accepts binding arbitration of investment disputes.

Iceland is a member state to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (Washington Convention), as well as a signatory to the convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention).

Investment disputes involving foreign investors are rare in Iceland; the Embassy is aware of no such cases in the past decade.

The Iceland Chamber of Commerce operates an independent arbitration institute, called the Nordic Arbitration Centre (NAC). The awards of the Arbitral Tribunals are final and binding for the parties. Furthermore, due to Iceland´s ratification of the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards the Tribunals awards are enforceable in over 144 countries. For more information http://chamber.is/services/NAC.

Bankruptcy Regulations

The Bankruptcy Act of 1991, No. 21, applies to a debtor who has a social security number and is domiciled in Iceland. The debtor can be a person, a company or an institution. The debtor has to apply for a license of financial reorganization or for composition with creditors. The cost of the license is roughly USD USD 1925. In the case of a registered company, its registered domicile must be in Iceland. If the company is unregistered, then its venue must also be in Iceland according to its articles of establishment. The same applies to institutions.

Bankruptcy is not criminalized in Iceland. In the case of resolving insolvency, Iceland ranks number 13 out of 190 economies by the World Bank´s 2018 Doing Business Index.

4. Industrial PoliciesShare    

Investment Incentives

Iceland has traditionally welcomed FDI in energy intensive industrial sectors such as aluminum smelting and has recently increased its focus on silicon production and data centers. The 2015 Act on Incentives for Initial Investments (https://www.government.is/topics/business-and-industry/incentives-and-investment-agreements/) was implemented to “promote initial investment in commercial operations, the competitiveness of Iceland and regional development by specifying what incentives are permitted in respect to initial investments in Iceland and how they should be used.”

There is significant debate regarding the appropriate types and level of FDI in Iceland, particularly within the energy sector and with regard to job creation and the environmental impact associated with certain projects. The majority of past foreign investment has been in energy-intensive industries, such as aluminum smelting.

Subsidiaries of foreign companies are able to participate in government-subsidized research and development programs, but only to cover R&D costs that are borne in Iceland. For further information see http://en.rannis.is. For more information on incentives, visit Invest in Iceland’s website https://www.invest.is/doing-business/incentives-and-support.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Under the EEA agreement, free ports or foreign trade zones are not allowed in Iceland.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

Specific performance requirements have not been imposed on data centers and there are no other specific impediments to such projects, such as requiring them to be located in specific areas or to allow government access to data for surveillance purposes. In fact, Invest in Iceland has been actively trying to attract data companies to locate data centers in Iceland. Furthermore, Iceland has no data localization requirements. Iceland’s parliament is currently working to pass legislation to bring Iceland into compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). For more information, see the Invest in Iceland webpage: http://www.invest.is/key-sectors/data-centers.

Iceland is a member of the EEA, allowing residents from any EEA country to work in Iceland. For residents of third countries, a resident permit is required for anyone staying in Iceland for more than three months. Please see the Icelandic Directory of Immigration web page for further information: http://www.utl.is/index.php/en/.

5. Protection of Property RightsShare    

Real Property

Only Icelandic citizens and foreign citizens that have permanent residency in Iceland can acquire the right to own or use real property in Iceland, including fishing and hunting rights, water rights, or other real property rights, whether by free assignation or enforcement measures, marriage, inheritance, or deed of transfer. However, special rules apply for citizens of the EEA. The Minister of Interior may grant exemption from these conditions based on application showing the need of ownership for business activities. The Minister’s permission is not necessary if hiring real property for less than three years or when the party involved enjoys rights in Iceland under the rules of the EEA. For more information please look at the Act on the Right of Ownership and Use of Real Property (https://www.government.is/Publications/Legislation/Lex/?newsid=353f66b8-f153-11e7-9421-005056bc4d74).

Property rights are generally enforced in Iceland. There is good access to mortgages and other financing to purchase real property in Iceland from commercial banks, pension funds and private lenders.

Intellectual Property Rights

Iceland adheres to key international agreements on property rights (e.g., Paris Union Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property). Trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and industrial designs are all protected under Icelandic law. As with many other issues, Iceland follows the European lead in protection of property rights and adheres to the European Patent Convention of 1973. In 2005, Iceland signed the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

As a member of the EEA, Iceland accepts jurisdiction of the EEA Court. Property rights are recognized and protected in the Constitution of Iceland. Secured interests in property are bound by law, and enforced as such, and there is a reliable system which records such security interests.

The Icelandic Patent Office, a government agency under supervision of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, handles all patent disputes in Iceland. The legal framework concerning intellectual property rights (IPR) in Iceland is in all respects equivalent to that of other industrialized countries in Europe. Iceland is a World Trade Organization (WTO) member, and Icelandic legislation complies with WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) requirements. Iceland does not maintain a database on the number of and seizures of counterfeit goods, but there is a website http://www.falsanir.is where rights holders, customs officials, and other stakeholders can report suspected goods. It is illegal to resell counterfeit goods, but not illegal for individuals to buy and import them for their own consumption. There has, however, been a recent crackdown on counterfeit goods in public offices.

Illegal downloading and distribution of films and TV shows is common in Iceland, but few have been prosecuted so far. It is becoming increasingly popular in Iceland to purchase counterfeit consumer goods on Chinese websites, such as AliExpress.com, but again, prosecutions are rare. Customs seize counterfeit products if found and contact the owner of the intellectual property who then decides whether to press charges against the importer or not. If the owner of the intellectual property does not want to take legal actions, customs clear the items and send them to the importer.

As an EFTA state and member of the EEA, Iceland has implemented all relevant EU regulations and directives in the field of IPR. Iceland is also bound by bilateral EFTA free-trade agreements which include provisions on IPR.

Iceland is not listed in the USTR’s 2018 Special 301 Report, nor is it listed in the notorious market report.

Iceland is a member of the European Patent Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and a party to most WIPO-administered agreements. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO's country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.

6. Financial SectorShare    

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Capital controls were lifted in March 2017 after more than eight years of restricting the free movement of capital. However, some restrictions remain on inbound investment. The Rules on Special Reserve Requirements for New Foreign Currency inflows were introduced in 2016 to restrict foreign investment in Icelandic bonds and bills. The rules state that those who invest in bonds or bills shall reserve 40 percent of the capital in a special reserve accounts within two weeks of the date the new inflows of foreign currency are converted to domestic currency or the reinvestment has taken place. The holding period is 12 months and capital flow accounts bear 0 percent interest.

The estates of the former banks, after completing composition agreement with the Icelandic state in February 2016, have been transformed into holding companies. The creditors of the estates have taken full possession after agreeing to pay a stability contribution amounting to USD 3 billion USD to the Icelandic State to safeguard financial stability. The estates have now started distributing assets to creditors.

Foreign portfolio investment has increased significantly over the past two years in Iceland after being dormant in the years following the economic crash. The Icelandic Stock Exchange operates under the name Nasdaq Iceland or ICEX. For more information about companies listed on Nasdaq Iceland follow this link http://www.nasdaqomxnordic.com/hlutabref/Skrad-fyrirtaeki/iceland. Icelandic pension funds and foreign investors often finance large scale projects as access to capital in Iceland can be limited. Foreign Direct Investment is actively encouraged by Icelandic authorities, for more information about market opportunities and incentives visit Invest in Iceland’s website https://www.invest.is/.

Money and Banking System

The Central Bank of Iceland was established in 1961 by an act of Parliament. The Central Bank of Iceland promotes price stability, maintains international reserves, and promotes efficient financial system, including cross-border and domestic payment systems. For more information see the Central Bank of Iceland’s website https://www.cb.is/default.aspx?pageid=1bf92874-0542-11e5-93fa-005056bc0bdb. There are three commercial banks in Iceland, Arion Bank, Islandsbanki and Landsbankinn, and one investment bank, Kvika.

All companies have access to regular commercial banking services in Iceland, although financing for large-scale investment projects usually comes from abroad. Pension funds are active in investing in and financing projects in Iceland.

The Central Bank of Iceland has often intervened in the market since the collapse by buying ISK, and those permitted to sell ISK under capital controls have been able to do so. Over the 2-year period from mid-2016 to mid-2018, the ISK had appreciated some 20 percent, from 125 ISK per U.S. dollar, to 104 in May 2018.

Establishing a bank account in Iceland requires a local personal identification number known as a “kennitala.” Foreign national should contact Registers Iceland for more information on how to register in Iceland (https://www.skra.is/english/individuals/).

The Government of Iceland has not announced plans to allow the implementation of blockchain technologies in its banking transactions. There are several data centers in Iceland that house blockchain operations.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange Policies

The 1996 Act on Investment by Non-residents in Business Enterprises states that "non-residents who invest in Icelandic enterprises shall have the right to convert into any currency, for which the Central Bank of Iceland maintains a regular exchange rate, any dividends received or other profits and proceeds from sales of investments." In 2008, however, the Central Bank of Iceland temporarily imposed capital controls to prevent a massive capital outflow following the collapse of the financial sector; those restrictions were largely lifted in March 2017. Transactions involving imports and exports of goods and services, travel, interest payments, contractual installment payments and salaries were still permitted under the capital controls.

The Central Bank published its Capital Controls Liberalization Strategy in 2009 and later updated it in 2011. The strategy stated that the controls would be lifted in stages. The first step, permitting the inflow of foreign currency for new investments and the outflow of capital derived from such investments, was implemented in November 2009. The second step was to conclude the resolution of the estates of the fallen banks, which occurred in February 2016 when all the estates of the failed banks agreed to the government plan for a stability contribution in exchange for exemptions from capital controls.

There remain offshore krona held by funds who declined to participate in the previous auctions. Entities holding such assets will be given the option of exchanging them for a long-term bond in either EUR or ISK, or potentially offered another auction at the discretion of the Central Bank. Until then, the offshore ISK are locked into a non-interest bearing account at the Icelandic Central Bank.

On March 12, 2017, the cabinet and the Central Bank lifted capital controls affecting households and businesses effective March 14, involving “foreign exchange transactions, foreign investment, hedging, and lending activity,” although some permanent protections against foreign exchange instability remain in place. This liberalization is expected to help attract new investment to Iceland, and allow established Icelandic companies access to foreign currencies that they need to invest or expand abroad.

The Rules on Special Reserve Requirements for New Foreign Currency inflows were introduced in 2016 to restrict foreign investment in Icelandic bonds and bills. The rules state that those who invest in bonds or bills shall reserve 40 percent of the capital in a special reserve accounts within two weeks of the date the new inflows of foreign currency are converted to domestic currency or the reinvestment has taken place. The holding period is 12 months and capital flow accounts bear 0 percent interest. For more information see https://www.cb.is/foreign-exch/capital-flow-measures/.

The Central Bank of Iceland publishes the official exchange rate on its website https://www.cb.is/statistics/official-exchange-rate/. “The exchange rate of the Icelandic krona is determined in the foreign exchange market, which is open between 9:15 hrs. and 16:00 hrs. on weekdays. Once a day, the Central Bank of Iceland fixes the official exchange rate of the krona against foreign currencies, for use as a reference in official agreements, court cases, and other contracts between parties that do not specify another reference exchange rate; cf. Article 19 of the Act on the Central Bank of Iceland, and fixes the official exchange rate index at the same time. This is done between 10:45 hrs. and 11:00 hrs. each morning that regulated foreign exchange markets are in operation. Under extraordinary circumstances, the Central Bank may temporarily suspend its quotation of the exchange rate of the krona.”

The Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions 2016, published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), describes exchange restrictions and multiple currency practices in Iceland in the following way: “The IMF staff report for the 2014 Article IV Consultation and Fifth Post-Program Monitoring Discussion with Iceland states that as of February 23, 2015, Iceland maintained exchange restrictions arising from limitations imposed on the conversion and transfer of (1) interest on bonds (whose transfer the foreign exchange rules apportion depending on the period of the holding); (2) the principal payments from holdings of amortizing bonds; and (3) payments on the indexation of principal from holdings of amortizing bonds. (Country Report No. 15/72)”

Remittance Policies

New foreign currency inflows that fall under Rule no. 490/2016 must be reported to the Central Bank through a local bank, for more information see the Central Bank of Iceland’s website https://www.cb.is/foreign-exch/capital-flow-measures/. For further information on the Central Bank’s laws and rules on foreign exchange and capital inflow follow this link https://www.cb.is/foreign-exch/.

Iceland's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) status is listed as monitored.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Iceland does not have a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

7. State-Owned EnterprisesShare    

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) generally compete under the same terms and conditions as private enterprises, except in the energy production and distribution sector. SOEs are also most active in the banking, energy, and health sectors, and the state has a monopoly on retail alcohol sales. Private enterprises have the same access to financing as SOEs through the banking system. Notable SOEs include ATVR, the only company allowed to sell alcohol to the general public, Islandsbanki, one of three commercial banks in Iceland, Landsbankinn, one of the three commercial banks in Iceland, and RUV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

As an OECD member, Iceland adheres to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance. However, the Icelandic government has not implemented any standard guidance to embellish implementation and in some cases politicians sit on SOEs’ directorial boards. The Chamber of Commerce in Iceland and NASDAQ OMX has issued a set of guidelines that mirror the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance. The State Auditor has also issued a less comprehensive set of guidelines.

The line of command can become blurred among a Minister, the board of the SOE, and the head of the SOE when the head of an SOE is appointed or engaged by the Minister with purview over the sector in which the SOE operates. Often these positions are filled by political appointees who are sometimes former politicians. For SOEs operating amongst the private sector in a competitive environment, the general guideline from the Icelandic government is that all decisions of the board of the SOE should ensure a level playing field and spur competition in the market.

In the midst of the banking crisis, the state, through the Financial Supervisory Authority (FME), took over Iceland's three largest commercial banks, which collapsed in October 2008, and subsequently took over several savings banks to allow for uninterrupted banking services in the country. In late 2009, the creditors of two of the three largest failed banks acquired the majority of shares in two of the newly re-established commercial banks, one of which in 2016 transferred shares back to the Icelandic state as part of the stability payment necessary to qualify for capital control exemptions. The Icelandic government owns 98 percent of the third re-established commercial bank, Landsbanki, and most of the government’s cost associated with recapitalizing the banking system lies within this bank. The government has stated its intention to privatize Landsbanki and Islandsbanki, but a timeline for privatization has not been announced. The Bank Shares Management Company, established by the state in 2009, manages state-owned shares in financial companies.

The government of Iceland has acquired a considerable stake in many companies through its shares in the banks; however, it is the policy of the government not to interfere with internal or day-to-day management decisions of these companies. Instead, in 2009, the state established the Bank Shares Management Company to manage the state-owned shares in financial companies. The board of this entity, consisting of individuals appointed by the Minister of Finance, appoints a selection committee, which in turn chooses the State representative to sit on the boards of the various companies.

While most energy producers are either owned by the state or municipalities, there is free competition in the energy market. That said, potential foreign investment in critical sectors like energy is likely to met by demands for Icelandic ownership, either formally or from the public. For example, a Canadian company, Magma Energy, acquired a 95 percent stake in the energy production company H.S Orka in 2010, but later sold a 33.4 percent stake to the Icelandic pension funds in the face of intense public pressure.

Iceland’s universal healthcare system is mainly state-operated. However, few legal restrictions to private medical practice exist; private clinics are required to maintain an agreement regarding payment for services with the Icelandic state, a foreign state, or an insurance company.

The State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ATVR), has exclusive rights for the retail sale of all alcoholic beverages. Importers and wholesale companies are privately run.

There has been public criticism of SOEs like ISAVIA (which runs the Keflavik International Airport) and how they have tendered retail space within the airport. Media discussion has focused on accusations of opacity in the tendering process. Companies that lost their space at the airport in 2015 are suing ISAVIA for the documents related to the last tender of retail space. The results are still pending.

Iceland is party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Privatization Program

There are no privatization programs in Iceland at the moment. However, the Icelandic State now owns two of the three largest commercial banks (Landsbankinn and Islandsbanki) and has stated that it intends to privatize both. The government has authorized the sale of a 30 percent stake in Landsbankinn to private investors. The terms and process of the sale have not yet been disclosed, but there is public pressure for the sale to be conducted in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner that allows all investors, including foreign, to bid on the stake.

8. Responsible Business ConductShare    

As an OECD member, Iceland adheres to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The Ministry for Industries and Innovation houses Iceland’s National Contact Point for the Guidelines, charged with promoting the due diligence approach of the Guidelines to the business community and to facilitate the resolution of any disputes arising in the context of the Guidelines.

The “Promote Iceland” agency has signed the United Nations’ Global Compact on responsible business conduct and pledges to promote discussion of the subject. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse, Iceland’s main banks also strengthened their social charters. Reykjavik University runs a Center for Corporate Social Responsibility, and Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs participates in the Nordic Business Outreach effort to direct private sector resources for development purposes. A NGO affiliated with Transparency International is active in Iceland and is a voice against corruption and for RBC. There is a general awareness of corporate social responsibility among both producers and consumers.

9. CorruptionShare    

Isolated cases of corruption have been known to occur, but are not an obstacle to foreign investment in Iceland or a recognized issue of concern in the government. In 2017, Iceland ranked 13th place out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index Ranking.

The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) published its report on Iceland on April 12 this year. The key findings were concerns that Iceland currently has no dedicated government-wide policy plan on anti-corruption and that its existing agency and institution-specific codes of conduct are not sufficiently detailed and are often implemented in an ad hoc manner. The report also notes that the GOI does not have a dedicated entity responsible for preventing corruption, which is instead delegated to various offices across the government.

In the wake of the financial collapse in Iceland in 2008, a code of conduct was established and ratified for public employees in 2013. Iceland has signed the UN Convention against Corruption and is in the accession process. Iceland is a member of the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:

Ministry of Justice
Solvholsgata 7, 101 Reykjavik
+354-545-9000
postur@dmr.is

Contact at "watchdog" organization:

Jon Olafsson
Chairman
Gagnsaei (Icelandic chapter of Transparency International)
Gimli, Haskolatorg
jonolafs@gagnsaei.is

10. Political and Security EnvironmentShare    

Politically motivated violence in Iceland is rare. Non-violent political protests in response to the 2008 financial crisis resulted in the dissolution of the government, the formation of a new coalition, and subsequently early elections in 2009. In early 2014, frustration among voters regarding the then-governing Progressive Party-Independence Party coalition government’s refusal to hold a referendum on EU accession led to the largest protests since the financial collapse; these protests did not include violence. Non-violent protests also led to a governmental reorganization and early elections, following the 2016 “Panama Papers” scandal. There have been individual cases of politically motivated vandalism of foreign holdings in recent years, directed primarily at the aluminum industry.

There has been political instability in Iceland for the past couple of years, with the coalition government of the Progressive and Independence Parties collapsing in 2016, and the coalition government of the Independence, Progressive and Bright Future parties collapsing a year later. The current coalition government of the Left Green, Progressive and Independence Parties has been in power since November 2017. This political unrest has not had major effects on the economy nor raised security concerns in Iceland.

11. Labor Policies and PracticesShare    

The labor force in Iceland is highly skilled and educated. It consists of 205,200 people aged between 16 and 74 years old as of April 2018. Thereof, 196,000 people were employed and 9,200 unemployed. Unemployment rate was 2.9 percent in the 1st quarter of 2018. Until the economic crisis in October 2008, demand for labor exceeded supply. Foreign labor fills the majority of unskilled service jobs and semi-skilled construction jobs, as the EEA Agreement allows for the free movement of labor within the area. Layoffs followed in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, particularly in the financial and construction sectors, leading some foreign workers to depart. Unemployment in Iceland rose quickly and peaked at 9.1 percent in April 2009. Since then unemployment has steadily decreased, even going as low as 1.7 percent in March 2017. Foreign labor has again been in high demand in unskilled and semi-skilled sectors such as tourism and construction. In January 2018, 29,819 foreign nationals were active on the labor market in Iceland. Around 12-13 percent of the workforce in Iceland are foreign citizens. In the year of 2017, 3,100 people worked in the agriculture industry (crop and animal production, hunting and related service activities).

Icelandic Labor Laws are taken seriously in Iceland and there are no waivers to attract or retain investment. The labor unions and Directorate of Labor conduct spot inspections on worksites to monitor legal compliance. The labor market is highly unionized, with approximately 85 percent of employees belonging to unions.

Icelandic labor unions are decentralized and not politically affiliated. Collective bargaining power, in both the public and the private sectors, rests with individual labor unions. The law does not establish a minimum wage, but the minimum wages negotiated in collective bargaining agreements apply automatically to all employees in those occupations, including foreign workers, regardless of union membership. While the agreements can be either industry-wide, sector-wide, or in some cases firm-specific, the type of position defines the negotiated wage levels. The government has sometimes imposed mandatory mediation to avert or end strikes in key economic sectors such as healthcare or fisheries.

The standard legal work week is 40 hours. However, most office workers have 37.5-39.5 hour work weeks. The law requires that employers compensate work exceeding eight hours per day as overtime. Most employees are paid for overtime or allowed time off in lieu of paid compensation. Collective bargaining agreements determine the terms of overtime pay, but they do not vary significantly across unions. The law limits the total hours a worker may work, including overtime, to 48 hours a week on average during each four-month period. Typical holiday and shift-work rates are 40 percent above the standard shift rate, and may be up to 45 percent more if total work hours exceed full-time employment. The law entitles workers to 11 hours of rest in each 24-hour period and one full day off each week. Under specially defined circumstances, employers may reduce the 11-hour rest period to no fewer than eight hours, but they must then compensate workers with corresponding rest time later. They may also postpone a worker’s day off, but the worker must receive the corresponding rest time within 14 days.

There are no restrictions on employers adjusting employment to respond to fluctuating market conditions. Employees are entitled to three-months of severance pay in the case layoffs. Labor laws do not differentiate between layoffs and terminations. All group layoffs must be reported to the Directorate of Labor. For further information, see the Directorate of Labor website (https://vinnumalastofnun.is/en).

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance ProgramsShare    

There are no current Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) operations in Iceland, as the per capita income is too high to qualify. Political risk insurance and project financing have traditionally been available on the local and international markets. Iceland is a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment StatisticsShare    

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

 

Host Country Statistical Source

USG or International Statistical Source

USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

Economic Data

Year

Amount

Year

Amount

 

Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD)

2016

USD 20,3551

2016

USD 20,304

www.worldbank.org/en/country

Foreign Direct Investment

Host Country Statistical Source

USG or International Statistical Source

USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

U.S. FDI in Partner Country (M USD, stock positions)

2016

USD -2,6502

2016

USD 85

BEA data available at
http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm

Host Country’s FDI in the United States (M USD, stock positions)

2016

USD 193

2016

USD 7,113

BEA data available at
http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm

Total Inbound Stock of FDI as % host GDP

2016

USD 45.3%4

2016

USD 69.1%5

http://data.imf.org/?sk=40313609-F037-
48C1-84B1-E1F1CE54D6D5&sId=
1482331048410

[1] Gross Domestic Product in Iceland 2016 2,452,970 million ISK or 20,355 million USD using the average exchange rate of 2016 1 USD=120.51 ISK. Source: https://statice.is/ (May 2018).
[2] Foreign Direct Investment Stocks in Iceland 2016 -319,307 million ISK or -2,650 million USD using the average exchange rate of 2016 1 USD=120.51 ISK. Source: Central Bank of Iceland https://www.sedlabanki.is/hagtolur/nanar/2016/09/09/Bein-fjarfesting/?stdID=5 (May 2018).
[3] Icelandic Foreign Direct Investment position in the United States 2016 2,299 million ISK or 19 million USD using the average exchange rate of 2016 1 USD=120.51 ISK. Source: Central Bank of Iceland https://www.sedlabanki.is/hagtolur/nanar/2016/09/09/Bein-fjarfesting/?stdID=5 (May 2018).
[4] Total Foreign Direct Investment Stocks in Iceland 2016 1,110,261 million ISK or 9,213 million USD using the average exchange rate of 2016 1 USD=120.51 ISK. Source: Central Bank of Iceland https://www.sedlabanki.is/hagtolur/nanar/2016/09/09/Bein-fjarfesting/?stdID=5. Iceland’s Cross Domestic Product 2016 2016 2,452,970 million ISK or 20,355 million USD using the average exchange rate of 2016 1 USD=120.51 ISK. Source: Statistics Iceland https://statice.is/ (May 2018). It is unclear why there is discrepancy in statistics from the Central Bank of Iceland and the IMF and the World Bank.
[5] Total Inward Direct Investment in Iceland for 2016 on data.imf.org is 13,183 million USD, but that number does not add up if the numbers for the top five countries are added together. Total Inward FDI is 14,029 million USD if the top five countries are added together, however, that number does not reflect Inward FDI from other countries. Source: IMF http://data.imf.org/?sk=40313609-F037-48C1-84B1-E1F1CE54D6D5&sId=1482331048410 (May 2018). Iceland’s Gross Domestic Product in 2016 was USD 20,304 million USD according to the World Bank www.worldbank.org/en/country (May 2018).

It is unclear why there is discrepancy in statistics from the Central Bank of Iceland and the IMF and the World Bank regarding Total Unbound Stocks of FDI as a percentage of host GDP.
 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data

From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)

Inward Direct Investment 2016

Outward Direct Investment 2016

Total Inward6

USD 14,029

100%

Total Outward7

USD 9,331

100%

Luxembourg

USD 9,515

67.82%

Netherlands

USD 2,507

26.87%

Netherlands

USD 2,920

20.81%

United States

USD 1,959

20.99%

Switzerland

USD 752

5.36%

Switzerland

USD 1,149

12.31%

Denmark

USD 426

3.04%

United Kingdom

USD 931

9.98%

United Kingdom

USD 416

2.97%

Cyprus

USD 550

5.89%

"0" reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

[6] Total Inward Direct Investment in Iceland for 2016 on data.imf.org is 13,183 million USD, but that number does not add up if the numbers for the top five countries are added together. Total Inward FDI is 14,029 million USD if the top five countries are added together, however, that number does not reflect Inward FDI from other countries. Source: IMF http://data.imf.org/?sk=40313609-F037-48C1-84B1-E1F1CE54D6D5&sId=1482331048410 (May 2018).
[7] Source: IMF http://data.imf.org/?sk=40313609-F037-48C1-84B1-E1F1CE54D6D5&sId=1482331048410 (May 2018).

According to official statistics from the Central Bank of Iceland, total Icelandic Foreign Direct Investment position abroad in 2016 was 683,491 million ISK, or 5,672 million USD using the average exchange rate of 2016 1 USD=120.51 ISK. However, according to the IMF, Outward Direct Investment from Iceland in 2016 was 9,331 million USD. It is unclear why there is discrepancy in international and domestic sources.
 

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets

Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)

Total8

Equity Securities

Total Debt Securities

All Countries

Amount

100%

All Countries

Amount

100%

All Countries

Amount

100%

Luxembourg

USD 3472

36%

Luxembourg

USD 3472

40%

United States

USD 325

42%

Ireland

USD 2579

27%

Ireland

USD 2578

29%

Netherlands

USD 210

27%

United States

USD 1667

17%

United States

USD 1341

15%

Germany

USD 63

8%

United Kingdom

USD 422

5%

United Kingdom

USD 376

4%

United Kingdom

USD 46

6%

Netherlands

USD 366

4%

France

USD 255

3%

Norway

USD 35

5%

[8] As of June 2017. Source: IMF http://data.imf.org/?sk=B981B4E3-4E58-467E-9B90-9DE0C3367363&sId=1481568994271 (April 2018).

14. Contact for More InformationShare    

Ester Halldorsdottir
Commercial Specialist
U.S. Embassy, Laufasvegur 21, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
+354-595-2241
halldorsdottires@state.gov / reykjavikeconomic@state.gov

John Kill
Economic Officer
U.S. Embassy, Laufasvegur 21, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
+354-595-2295
killjp@state.gov / reykjavikeconomic@state.gov