We all know numbers are at the heart of international investment, and the performance statistics of locations are a useful indicator for seeing who is hot, and who is not.
The past few months have seen a flurry of investment results announcements across Europe. This year’s numbers show that Europe continues to perform well on the world stage. The ‘old’ (western) Europe has had a botox injection from ‘new’ (eastern) Europe – and we now have a glamourous ‘middle-aged’ prospect where all needs are catered for. You can have maturity with dynamism – it’s all here.
Europe is the world’s leading location both for FDI inflows and outflows. Despite the headline grabbing of China and India, and the continuing global motor role of the US, European countries continue to fill the top 10 lists – there are five in the top 10 of the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings, and six in the top 10 most attractive countries in the Ernst & Young European Attractiveness Survey.
The new EU entrants and their neighbours have brought a new dimension to the table, and as well as offering lower costs they are providing market growth opportunities too. There is now a much higher level of intra-European investment as European-based companies re-orientate their footprints to benefit from the new opportunities.
Manufacturing investment is still vibrant, with higher-value activities continuing to reinvest in western European facilities. In some industries, where products are too bulky to import from east Asia, such as automotives, companies are moving operations eastwards to benefit from cost advantages, and are creating a new centre of gravity in Europe.
Despite its position on the western edge, the UK remains the leading country for attracting FDI. It continues to
perform its role as the first step into Europe for many foreign investors. The leading country in the ‘new’ Europe is Poland, reflecting its market size, cost advantages and geographic location.
For the business investor seeking to balance risk with growth, and quality with cost, the current Europe gives an excellent offer. There is lots of choice, and many willing sellers. The challenge is to read between the numbers to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Douglas Clark is a director of Tenon techlocate, the London-based location consultancy of the Tenon Group, a UK national firm of accountants and business advisers.