This is an important column for me. It’s the 90th one I have written in my tenure as editor of fDi Magazine, the first of this new decade, and my last ever. I will soon be stepping down from this role after 15 rollicking, jetlag-addled years.
During this time I have been fortunate to visit more than 80 countries, to meet and interview all manner of worthy (and a few unworthy) people, and to learn a huge amount about what makes the world of investment turn.
Much has changed in the past decade-and-a-half. In 2004, the year I joined fDi, the database that is now fDi Markets recorded 8945 greenfield investment projects globally for an estimated total capital expenditure of $612bn. China had already established itself by then as a top investment destination but was rarely considered of much importance as a source market. At that time the US was the largest outbound investor in the world by a long shot, accounting for nearly twice as much as the second largest FDI generator, Japan. China ranked 23rd on the global list of source countries. In 2019, it ranked third.
FDI is an endlessly fascinating topic to cover, in my highly biased view, because it sits at the cross-section of business, economics, finance and politics – and because it matters. FDI has the power to revolutionise entire economies and change people’s lives. And while it needs to be channelled correctly in order to have maximum impact, FDI for all its faults can do enormous good. Every country on the earth needs it, it is an essential element to international development, and UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as this issue’s cover story argues, simply cannot come close to being achieved without it.
For this reason, I have always had enormous respect for those who are out on the frontlines working to attract investment to their home countries. It is not an easy job, and gets harder all the time due to increasing competition. I would like to thank all the many investment promotion professionals and public servants who have shared their time, insights (and local cuisines) with me over the years.
Of course, there can be no FDI without the investors themselves and the IPAs that serve their locations well are those that are tuned into the needs and goals of the companies that are expanding globally. It is important that the FDI ecosystem not be an echo chamber in which public sector entities talk among themselves about what companies need and want. If in this time at the helm of fDi Magazine I was able to in any way be a bridge of information between these equally important yet distinct parts of the investment chain, then I am pleased.
I couldn’t possibly sign off without a note of gratitude to the fantastic team of talented people here at fDi Towers who help make this publication possible – and who made it a joy to come to the office in between all the stints on aeroplanes. Thank you.
Courtney Fingar is editor-in-chief of fDi Magazine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org