One of the world’s major solar panel producers, Korea’s Qcells, will invest $2.5bn to expand its solar module manufacturing capacity in the US state of Georgia, according to a press note from the office of Georgia senator Jon Ossoff released on January 11. 

Qcells will expand the production capacity of its existing manufacturing facility in the city of Dalton to 5.1 gigawatts (GW), and build a new 3.3GW facility in the city of Cartersville, 50 miles south.

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The investment is expected to create 2500 jobs and comes on the heels of the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, a new piece of legislation sponsored by Mr Osoff that aims to foster the development of a domestic value chain of solar energy technologies, which are currently largely imported from China and South-East Asia.

Such efforts have already started to pay off. Foreign investors announced eight investment projects in the production of solar panels worth record $1.04bn in 2022, up from $261m the previous year, according to foreign investment monitor fDi Markets. 

Amazon shuts down three UK warehouses 

US e-commerce powerhouse Amazon will close three UK warehouses this year, slimming down costs amid a consumer spending squeeze and a 50% drop in share price in 2022. 

Fulfilment centres at Hemel Hempstead, Doncaster, and Gourock in Scotland will all close, said the internet retailing giant on January 10. 

Amazon hired large numbers of staff during the pandemic to meet increased demand from locked-down consumers, only for high inflation and the resulting spending squeeze to force a backpedal this year.

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But the company also says it will open two new fulfilment centres in the West Midlands and County Durham over the next three years, adding that site closures came as a part of regular evaluations.  

Political turmoil hits UK’s FDI appeal

A survey of manufacturers’ executives has revealed that 10 Downing Street’s revolving door is costing Britain much of its appeal to foreign investors.

The political turmoil in 2022 has “damaged the competitiveness of the UK as a manufacturing location”, the survey published by MakeUK reveals. The proportion of companies that class the UK as a competitive location has halved, down to 31%.

Other factors impairing the UK’s foreign direct investment (FDI) competitiveness, according to the survey, include new Covid-19 strains and ongoing Brexit implementation issues.

China FDI: Is the worst over? 

FDI into China is set to increase in 2023, analysts tell fDi, following record low levels of greenfield investments in 2022, as multinationals balance diversification with consolidation in the country.

With Covid-19 case numbers slated to reach their first peak on January 13, at 3.7 million cases per day, according to health analytics company Airfinity, there is an expectation that foreign firms in China might benefit from greater clarity after long-standing frustration over Beijing’s zero-Covid policy. As of January 8, China has scrapped its quarantine restrictions on inbound travellers but remains closed to tourists.

“As the Covid tidal wave washes over China, there is pent-up investment spending in the system,” says Leland Miller, CEO of China Beige Book, an advisory company. “FDI into China will have bottomed out by the end of 2022.”