As FDI is so often a zero-sum game, wins and losses are to be expected, especially as a result of seismic economic events. A fairly clear list of winners and losers can be ascertained by looking at the 2009 greenfield FDI data, but while it might be clear, it is not always obvious or expected.
Latin America has come out smelling of roses, being the only region growing for both inward and outward greenfield projects, while former FDI darling, eastern Europe, experienced a drastic drop. At the country level, those that suffered heavily from the global downturn did not necessarily suffer corresponding declines in FDI: the US and the UK both saw substantial increases in project numbers, yet Poland, the only European country with a growing economy, has seen the reverse trend with FDI figures (see charts). China, meanwhile, saw the biggest nominal drop in project numbers of all countries – wasn’t that where all these lost developed-market projects were meant to be heading?
Among cities, there are those not losing nearly as much FDI as one might think (such as Dubai) and those that have lost some headline-grabbing investors yet are still at the top of their game, such as London, fDi Magazine’s European City of the Future 2010/11 , which also topped our sister publication The Banker’s International Financial Centres of the Future index.
There have also been more local project wins than it might sometimes seem. Not only are FDI deals still being done, but big ones too. fDi Markets tracked a number of megaprojects throughout 2009, from US medical device maker St Jude Medical Inc’s announcement in January 2009 of a $30m investment in Penang, Malaysia, followed swiftly by its plans to build a 500-head plant in Costa Rica as well, to Ericsson announcing last summer that it would invest $1.6bn in an R&D centre in South Korea, and towards the end of year Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House beginning work on a $3bn financial park and real estate development in Tunisia.
With these types of figures being bandied about in the FDI game, there is clearly still everything to play for.