Benedict de Saint Laurent, general manager of Invest in Med, puts it more pragmatically: “From $59bn of FDI in 2007, we aim to reach $100bn by 2011.”
To reach its goal, the agency is focusing on a new industrial policy, and partnerships between European and Mediterranean companies to develop regional clusters and value chains in specific industries. These include organic agriculture, catering, generic pharmaceuticals, textile, eco-tourism and conventions. In doing this, Med-Invest also aims to reduce the mobility of projects and volatility of FDI flows.
Many will question the effectiveness of EU Mediterranean policies, on the back of the Barcelona Process and Neighbourhood Policy, but there are good reasons for success:
- Pragmatism: Businessmen work beyond political differences. In Israel for instance, the Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry of the West Bank works closely with Israeli scientists in R&D.
- Opportunities: In this heterogeneous zone, waves of privatisation and deregulation follow each other. Regional powerhouses Turkey, Israel and Egypt are now joined by Syria in an opening up of its economy.
- Sustainability: Oil-rich GCC countries are increasingly investing in the region for the downstream products of their emerging and vertically integrated industries, notably in chemicals and metals.
Second only to China for FDI in the ranks of emerging countries, the Mediterranean region – with a rising FDI trend and global attention – might well steal the top spot before long.
Sébastien Delasnerie, a former journalist and director at the Invest in France agency, advises governments on branding and image in international markets.