Inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) were substantial in 2005. They rose by 29% – to reach $916 billion – having already increased by 27% in 2004. Inward FDI grew in all the main subregions, in some to unprecedented levels, and in 126 out of the 200 economies covered by UNCTAD. Nevertheless, world inflows remained far below the 2000 peak of $1.4 trillion. Similar to trends in the late 1990s, the recent upsurge in FDI reflects a greater level of cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As), especially among developed countries. It also reflects higher growth rates in some developed countries as well as strong economic performance in many developing and transition economies.Read More
World Investment Report 2006
FDI from Developing and Transition Economies: Implications for Development
This year’s World Investment Report highlights the changing role of developing countries and transition economies in global foreign direct investment and the international production system. It examines their emergence as significant sources of foreign direct investment as well as the underlying factors and broader implications.
The Report stresses that such outward investment offers an additional avenue for developing countries to link up to global markets and production systems. If managed successfully, these investments can help firms access markets, natural resources, foreign capital, technology or various intangible assets that are essential to their competitiveness but that may not be readily available in their home countries. Appropriate policies are needed to mitigate the risks and costs and seize the opportunities arising from outward investment.
From a host-country perspective the rise of transnational corporations from developing and transition economies expands the range of potential sources of finance, technology and management know-how. This is of particular relevance to low-income countries. As shown in the Report, inflows of foreign investment into many least developed countries come primarily from other developing countries. It is important to consider how this form of South-South cooperation can be further strengthened to promote mutual development gains.
Developed countries and their firms will face new competition for various resources and assets, but they will also find new opportunities for economic collaboration. They will have to become accustomed to many more transactions involving investors from developing and transition economies as they expand internationally. In fact, the emergence of these new sources of investment has broader implications for international economic relations as it reflects their growing clout in the world economy.
Finally, the emergence of transnational corporations from developing and transition economies imparts greater momentum to South-South cooperation. New investment corridors are opening up between Latin America, Africa and Asia as part of this dynamic activity, with positive prospects for advancing development. To capitalize on this opportunity, policy-makers from home and host developing countries need to gear themselves into action and, for this, they will require insightful knowledge and analysis. This year’s World Investment Report is a step towards this goal.
Kofi A. Annan
Secretary-General of the United Nations
Cross-border M&As, especially those involving companies in developed countries, have spurred the recent increases in FDI. The value of cross-border M&As rose by 88% over 2004, to $716 billion, and the number of deals rose by 20%, to 6,134. These levels are close to those achieved in the first year of the cross-border M&A boom of 1999-2001. The recent surge in M&A activity includes several major transactions, partly fuelled by the recovery of stock markets in 2005. There were 141 mega deals valued at more than $1 billion – close to the peak of 2000, when 175 such deals were observed. The value of mega deals was $454 billion in 2005 – more than twice the 2004 level and accounting for 63% of the total value of global cross-border M&As.Read More
Services gained the most from the surge of FDI, particularly finance, telecommunications and real estate. (Since data on the sectoral distribution of FDI are limited, these observations are extrapolated from data relating to cross-border M&As, which accounted for a significant share of inflows.) The predominance of services in crossborder investments is not new. What is new is the further and sharp decline in the share of manufacturing (four percentage points lower in cross-border M&A sales over the preceding year) and the steep rise of FDI into the primary sector (with a sixfold increase in cross-border M&A sales), primarily the petroleum industry.Read More
Transnational corporations (TNCs), most of them privately owned, undertake FDI. However, in some home countries (notably in the developing world) and in some industries (especially those related to natural resources) a number of major State-owned enterprises are also increasingly expanding abroad. According to estimates by UNCTAD, the universe of TNCs now spans some 77,000 parent companies with over 770,000 foreign affiliates. In 2005, these foreign affiliates generated an estimated $4.5 trillion in value added, employed some 62 million workers and exported goods and services valued at more than $4 trillion.Read More
In terms of regulatory trends relating to investment, the pattern observed in previous years has persisted: the bulk of regulatory changes have facilitated FDI. They have involved simplified procedures, enhanced incentives, reduced taxes and greater openness to foreign investors. However, there have also been notable moves in the opposite direction. In both the EU and the United States, growing concerns have arisen over proposed foreign acquisitions. In early 2006, the acquisition by DP World (United Arab Emirates) of P&O (United Kingdom), a shipping and port management firm, along with that firm’s management of some ports in the United States, led to United States protests on the grounds of security. Similarly, in Europe concerns were voiced over a bid by Mittal Steel to acquire Arcelor, and broader European opposition to the EU’s own directive relating to the liberalization of services. Some notable regulatory steps were also taken to protect economies from foreign competition or to increase State influence in certain industries. The restrictive moves were mainly related to FDI in strategic areas such as petroleum and infrastructure. For example, the Latin American oil and gas industry became the focus of attention, particularly following the Bolivian Government’s decision to nationalize that industry in May 2006.Read More
In Africa, FDI inflows shot up from $17 billion in 2004 to an unprecedented $31 billion in 2005. Nonetheless, the region’s share in global FDI continued to be low, at just over 3%. South Africa was the leading recipient, with about 21% ($6.4 billion) of the region’s total inflows, mainly as a result of the acquisition of ABSA (South Africa) by Barclays Bank (United Kingdom). Egypt was the second largest recipient, followed by Nigeria. As in the past, with a few exceptions such as Sudan, most of the region’s 34 least developed countries (LDCs) attracted very little FDI. The leading source countries remained the United States and the United Kingdom, along with France and Germany further behind. Most of the FDI was in the form of greenfield investments.Read More
FDI inflows into South, East and South-East Asia reached $165 billion in 2005, corresponding to 18% of world inflows. About two thirds went to two economies: China ($72 billion) and Hong Kong, China ($36 billion). The South-East Asian subregion received $37 billion, led by Singapore ($20 billion) and followed by Indonesia ($5 billion), Malaysia and Thailand ($4 billion each). Inflows to South Asia were much lower ($10 billion), though they grew significantly in several countries, with the highest level ever for India of $7 billion.Read More
FDI inflows into the 14 economies of West Asia soared by 85%, the highest rate in the developing world in 2005, to reach a total increase of about $34 billion. High oil prices and consequently strong GDP growth were among the main factors that drove this increase. In addition, the regulatory regime was further liberalized, with an emphasis on privatization involving FDI notably in services: for instance, power and water in Bahrain, Jordan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, transport in Jordan, and telecommunications in Jordan and Turkey.Read More
Latin America and the Caribbean saw inflows of $104 billion, representing a small rise over 2004. Excluding the offshore financial centres, inflows increased by 12%, to reach $67 billion in 2005. Economic growth and high commodity prices were contributory factors. The region registered exceptional GDP growth rates in 2004-2005, surpassing those of the world average for the first time in 25 years. Strong demand for commodities contributed to a noticeable improvement in the regional trade balance. A significant proportion of the FDI inflows consisted of reinvested earnings, reflecting a marked increase in corporate profits. Trends varied by country: while inflows decreased in Brazil (- 17%), Chile (-7%) and Mexico (-3%), they rose significantly in Uruguay (81%), more than trebled in Colombia, almost doubled in Venezuela, and increased by 65% and 61% in Ecuador and Peru respectively.Read More
FDI flows to South-East Europe and the CIS in 2005 remained at a relatively high level ($40 billion), increasing only slightly over the previous year. Inflows were fairly concentrated: three countries – the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Romania, in that order – accounted for close to three quarters of the total. FDI outflows from the region grew for a fourth consecutive year, reaching $15 billion, with the Russian Federation alone responsible for 87% of the total outflows. The countries of the region have different policy priorities related to inward and outward FDI, reflecting their varying economic structures and institutional environments. In natural-resourcebased economies, such as the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, most of the policy issues concern management of the windfall earnings from high international oil prices, and the definition – or redefinition – of the role of the State.Read More
FDI inflows into developed countries rose by 37% to $542 billion, or 59% of the world total. Of this, $422 billion went to the 25-member EU. The United Kingdom – the largest single recipient of global FDI – received $165 billion. The main contributory factor was the merger of Shell Transport and Trading (United Kingdom) with Royal Dutch Petroleum (the Netherlands), a deal valued at $74 billion. Other major FDI recipients, that registered significant increases in their FDI inflows included France ($64 billion), the Netherlands ($44 billion) and Canada ($34 billion). The 10 new EU members together attracted $34 billion, a rise of 19% over 2004 and another new record high. Inflows into the United States amounted to $99 billion, a significant decline from 2004. Although well over 90% of all inflows into developed countries originated from other developed countries, several notable investments by TNCs from developing countries also took place, including Lenovo’s (China) takeover of IBM’s personal computer division and the above-mentioned purchase of Italian Wind Telecomunicazioni by Orascom of Egypt through Weather Investments.Read More
World FDI inflows are expected to increase further in 2006. This prospect is based on continued economic growth, increased corporate profits – with a consequent increase in stock prices that would boost the value of cross-border M&As – and policy liberalization. In the first half of 2006, crossborder M&As rose 39% compared to the same period in 2005. However, there are factors that may dampen further FDI growth. These include the continuing high oil prices, rising interest rates and increased inflationary pressures, which may restrain economic growth in most regions. Also, various economic imbalances in the global economy as well as geopolitical tensions in some parts of the world are adding to the uncertainty.Read More
Although developed-country TNCs account for the bulk of global FDI, an examination of different data sources shows a growing and significant international presence of firms – both private and State-owned – from developing and transition economies. Their outward expansion through FDI provides development opportunities for the home economies concerned. However, it is eliciting mixed reactions from recipient countries in different parts of the world. Some welcome the increased FDI from these economies as a new source of capital and knowledge; for others it also represents new competition.Read More
The emergence of these new sources of FDI may be of particular relevance to low-income host countries. TNCs from developing and transition economies have become important investors in many LDCs. Developing countries with the highest dependence on FDI from developing and transition economies include China, Kyrgyzstan, Paraguay and Thailand, and LDCs such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and the United Republic of Tanzania. Indeed, FDI from developing countries accounts for well over 40% of the total inward FDI of a number of LDCs. For example, in Africa, South Africa is a particularly important source of FDI; it accounts for more than 50% of all FDI inflows into Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland. Moreover, the level of FDI from developing and transition economies to many LDCs may well be understated in official FDI data, as a significant proportion of such investment goes to their informal sector, which is not included in government statistics.Read More
The diversity of the home economies now emerging as significant sources of FDI precludes any far-reaching generalizations of the characteristics of TNCs from developing and transition economies, but it is possible to identify certain salient features. Although most of their TNCs are relatively small, a number of large ones with global ambitions have also appeared on the scene. They tend to be involved in particular industries, with notable variations between different home economies and regions. Compared with their developed-country counterparts, a relatively high degree of State ownership can be observed among the largest TNCs from developing and transition economies. However, these stylized observations should be interpreted with care, as there are important differences between regions and countries, as well as between individual companies.Read More
The increase in the number and diversity of developing-country TNCs over the past decade is largely due to the continuing impact of globalization on developing countries and their economies. The dynamics are complex, but within them the combination of competition and opportunity – interwoven with liberalization policies across developing and developed regions – is particularly important. As developing economies become more open to international competition, their firms are increasingly forced to compete with TNCs from other countries, both domestically and in foreign markets, and FDI can be an important component of their strategies. This competition, in turn can impel them to improve their operations and it encourages the development of firm-specific competitive advantages, resulting in enhanced capabilities to compete in foreign markets.Read More
Four key types of push and pull factors, and two associated developments help explain the drive for internationalization by developingcountry TNCs. First, market-related factors appear to be strong forces that push developing-country TNCs out of their home countries or pull them into host countries. In the case of Indian TNCs, the need to pursue customers for niche products – for example, in IT services – and the lack of international linkages are key drivers of internationalization. Chinese TNCs, like their Latin American counterparts, are particularly concerned about bypassing trade barriers. Overdependence on the home market is also an issue for TNCs, and there are many examples of developing-country firms expanding into other countries in order to reduce this type of risk.Read More
In principle, four main motives influence investment decisions by TNCs: market-seeking, efficiency-seeking, resource-seeking (all of which are asset exploiting strategies) and created-asset-seeking (an assetaugmenting strategy).
Surveys undertaken by UNCTAD and partner organizations on outward investing firms from developing countries confirm that, of these motives, the most important one for developing-country TNCs is market-seeking FDI, which primarily results in intraregional and intra-developing country FDI. Within this, there are differences in patterns of FDI, depending on the activity of the TNC: for example, FDI in consumer goods and services tends to be regional and South-South orientated; that in electronic components is usually regionally focused (because of the location of companies to which they supply their output); in IT services it is often regional and orientated towards developed countries (where key customers are located); and FDI by oil and gas TNCs targets regional markets as well as some developed countries (which remain the largest markets for energy).Read More
The most important potential gain for a firm from outward FDI is increased competitiveness, that is, the ability to survive and grow in an open economy, and attain its ultimate objectives of maximizing profits and retaining or increasing market share. Outward FDI can be a direct path to market expansion. In certain circumstances, it is the only path, for example when there are trade barriers that inhibit exports or when the TNC is in the business of providing a service that is non-tradable. Many developing country TNCs have indeed expanded their markets through outward FDI, either through M&As or through greenfield investments. Outward FDI can also contribute to a company’s competitiveness by increasing its efficiency. Rising domestic costs, especially labour costs, have led a number of East and South-East Asian TNCs to invest in less expensive locations, with significant efficiency gains.Read More
Outward FDI from developing countries can also contribute directly and indirectly, to a home economy as a whole. Arguably, the most important potential gain for home countries from outward FDI is the improved competitiveness and performance of the firms and industries involved. Such gains may translate into broader benefits and enhanced competitiveness for the home country at large, contributing to industrial transformation and upgrading of value-added activities, improved export performance, higher national income and better employment opportunities. Improved competitiveness of outward investing TNCs can be transmitted to other firms and economic agents in home countries through various channels, including via linkages with, and spillovers to, local firms, competitive effects on local business, and linkages and interactions with institutions such as universities and research centres. In sum, the more embedded the outward investing TNCs are, the greater will be the expected benefits for the home economy.Read More
For developing host economies, FDI from other developing countries provides a broader range of potential sources of capital, technology and management skills to tap. For low-income developing countries, it can be of great importance. As indicated above, in a number of LDCs, it accounts for a large share of total FDI inflows. To the extent that firms from developing countries invest appreciable amounts in other developing countries, that investment provides an important additional channel for further South-South economic cooperation.Read More
The emergence of TNCs from some developing and transition economies as key regional or global players is paralleled by important changes in both developed and developing countries of policies governing FDI and related matters. The ability of countries – be they sources or recipients of such investment – to benefit from such investment activity is influenced by active policies. By providing the appropriate legal and institutional environment, home country governments can create conditions that will induce their firms to invest overseas in ways that will produce gains for the home economy.Read More
There are also policy implications for host countries. A key question is what developing host countries can do to leverage fully the expansion of FDI from the South. In terms of enhancing the positive impact of such FDI, they need to consider the full range of policies that can influence the behaviour of foreign affiliates, and their interaction with the local business environment. This requires taking into account the specific characteristics of different industries and activities in designing a strategy to attract desired kinds of FDI. In addition, it is important to promote the amount and quality of linkages between foreign affiliates and domestic firms. Host-country governments can use various measures to encourage linkages between domestic suppliers and foreign affiliates and strengthen the likelihood of spillovers in the areas of information, technology and training. In terms of addressing potential concerns and negative effects associated with inward FDI, there is no principal difference between the policies to apply in the case of FDI from developed countries and in the case of FDI from developing and transition economies.Read More
Issues of corporate social responsibility (CSR) may also become more important as developing-country firms expand abroad. Discussions related to CSR have traditionally revolved around developed-country TNCs and their behaviour abroad; more recently the managements of TNCs from developing and transition economies are also being exposed to similar issues. While adherence to various internationally adopted CSR standards may entail costs for the companies concerned, it can also generate important advantages – not only for the host country, but also for the investing firms and their home economies. A number of developing-country TNCs have already incorporated CSR policies into their business strategies, some of them even becoming leaders in this area. For example, more than half of the participating companies in the United Nations Global Compact are based in developing countries. Moreover, some developing countries are establishing a regulatory and cultural environment that supports CSR standards. These initiatives are sometimes driven by governments and at other times by business associations, non-governmental organizations or international organizations.Read More
Beyond the national level of policy-making, there is a marked increased in South-South investment cooperation through IIAs, in parallel to the growth of FDI from the South. The increase of FDI from some of these economies is also likely to generate growing demand from their business community for greater protection of their overseas investments. As a consequence, in addition to using IIAs as a means to promote inward FDI, some developing-country governments will increasingly consider using IIAs to protect and facilitate outward investments. This may influence the content of future treaties and result in an additional challenge for those developing country governments to balance their need for regulatory flexibility with the interests of their own TNCs investing abroad.Read More