The criteria of the awards have focused on rewarding success in attracting foreign direct investment or in developing policies that facilitate FDI. However, it has come to light that by recognising individual people – even if strictly in the context of their FDI initiatives – the awards risk being interpreted as endorsements of individuals or political factions and their overall policies, viewpoints or even their character. In order to avoid our awards being unnecessarily politicised and to keep the focus firmly on FDI potential, growth and policies, we are repositioning the 2009 fDi awards to recognize standout regions and stories of the year.
FDI is about people; it is a personality-driven market; and individuals, be they in business or politics, have the capacity to affect investment dynamics in important ways. We will continue to report on the people behind the business of globalisation. Yet for the purposes of official awards, we will focus on raising awareness of investment opportunities and FDI successes in all regions of the world. Our picks for 2009 are below.
Anbar Province, Iraq
In most places in the world, being successful at attracting foreign investment does not require bravery or courage, at least not in the truest senses of the words. Most places are not Iraq.
Al Anbar, Iraq’s largest province, is safer than it was a few years ago, but significant security threats – and challenges of all kinds – remain. The biggest concern for the provincial government, in place since April 2009, is creating jobs for the nearly 20,000 unemployed people in the province, thereby denying radical groups a source of recruits. Economic development, fuelled by foreign investment, is viewed as a weapon in the battle against such groups.
FDI in a place like Anbar is a lifeline and attracting it a life-or-death situation. And that is why the new provincial government, in place since April 2009, is in a hurry, working with developers on ambitious plans for new commercial, housing, industrial and tourism zones, pushing plans for improving transport links, and courting investors in Iraq and abroad to finance the schemes.
Corruption remains endemic in Iraq and is an impediment to investment. To increase transparency and bring a more businesslike focus to government operations, the government is implementing a streamlined system for administrative procedures, based on international best practice, which, it is hoped, will be a model for the rest of Iraq.
Needless to say, at this stage Anbar receives very little foreign investment but, in the face of the most impossible circumstances, all the right efforts are being made to give the province a fighting chance to rebuild its economy with the help of a few intrepid international investors.
Lagos State, Nigeria
Lagos state is Nigeria’s financial and industrial heart, with more than 2000 manufacturing companies and 200 financial institutions. It is home to more than 60% of the country’s industry and a number of multinationals, including Unilever, Chevron, Shell and Exxon Mobil, have regional headquarters in the state.
It is the smallest state geographically in Nigeria but has a total population of 17.5 million, making it Nigeria’s second most populous state after Kano.
The government plans to transform the state into Africa’s leading centre of commerce, trade and tourism and is encouraging private investors to develop either affordable or luxury housing in the state. It will provide land and support to developers, especially for low-income housing.
One of the biggest projects is the Lekki Free Trade Zone, a city within a city, which will provide housing for 3.4 million people, as well as office space, hotels, a shipping port, and an airport. The state is modelling it on Dubai’s successful Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone.
These efforts appear to be bearing fruit: after reaching a plateau in 2006 and declining in 2007, greenfield investment flows to Lagos state shot up in 2008, with a 300% rise over the previous year, according to data from crossborder investment tracking service fDi Markets. Business services accounted for the largest chunk, representing 15% of projects. Figures for 2009 have already surpassed those of 2008, pointing to a big year for FDI into the state.
Gujarat State, India
Last year, according to headline figures, Gujarat attracted $2.8bn in FDI, 10.3% of all foreign investment inflows into India and an increase of 57% on the previous year. Only Maharashtra state secures more FDI. Greenfield investment – perhaps the fairest measure of a location’s attractiveness – has seen an even bigger rise. According to data from fDi Markets, in 2008 Gujarat saw a 79.2% increase in the number of greenfield investment projects over the previous year – quite a result given the global economic climate of the past year.
The upward trend looks to continue. Gujarat is strongly promoting its business-friendly policies and fast-developing infrastructure sector. The state attracted attention in late 2008 by nabbing the high-profile project to manufacture the Tata Nano low-price automobile when land disputes caused the company to pull out of West Bengal. While the project is a domestic investment (and, it must be said, not without controversy), it did mark Gujarat out as fast-moving and aggressively pro-investment.
Gujarat was one of the first states in India to encourage private-sector investment and a good example of this policy’s success is the liquid chemicals handling port at Dahej. The state has also promoted an important science city at Ahmedabad and agreed to the establishment of more than 100 special economic zones. It is home to the world’s largest ship-breaking yard at Alang, near Bhavnagar.
Bolstered by inward investment, Gujarat has seen economic growth of about 10%, year-in year-out, the fastest rate of any state in India. With one of the highest incomes per head in India, it produces 39% of the country’s industrial output.
Denmark (Renewable Energy Sector)
Over the past 25 years, Denmark’s economy has grown by about 75% – with nearly stable energy consumption, says its government. Denmark is determined to prove that with a persistent and active energy policy focused on increasing energy efficiency, it is possible to maintain high economic growth while at the same time reducing dependency on fossil fuels.
Given that renewable energy is the fastest-growing FDI sector, establishing a high profile in this area is a good move for future FDI competitiveness.
Denmark’s Energy Policy 2008-11 made the country the first in the world to commit to an overall energy reduction, not just a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The target is a 2% reduction of total energy use from 2006 levels by 2011 and 4% by 2020.
Among other elements, the policy will boost biomass/waste and wind energy and offer large annual subsidies for solar and wave energy producers. Plans also include support for two 200 MW offshore wind farms that are scheduled to begin energy production in 2012. The plan will also double funding for energy technology R&D.
With thousands converging on the capital city of Copenhagen in December for the COP-15 environmental summit, all eyes will be on Denmark, giving the country a chance to show off its credentials as a leader in renewable energy.
Yucatán State, Mexico
Yucatán is a small state: with just under 2 million residents, it is only the 20th biggest in Mexico by population and 21st by geographical size. It is also little know other than as a tourist playground.
Located in the northern part of the peninsula also called Yucatán, near the Gulf of Mexico, Yucatán state has been a draw for tourists as well as American and Canadian retirees because of its proximity to the Caribbean, signature golf courses, stunning Spanish architecture and pleasant residential areas at a low cost. Its capital, the colonial city of Mérida, has important Mayan archaeological sites, including Chichén Itzá, which has been named as one of the new seven wonders of the world. Intercontinental and Accor are among the international hotel groups that have invested in the region.
Tourism will remain be crucial to this economy, as will its cornerstone industries of agribusiness and fishing, but the state is pushing to expand its manufacturing capacity and add 100,000 new jobs through investment attraction in such sectors as industrial machinery.
It has had some wins recently. Energia del Sureste (EnerSur), a Peru-based energy company and subsidiary of Suez, is to invest $5.2m in the construction of an aeolian and thermal power solar panel manufacturing plant in Yucatán, due to open imminently. Germany’s Hess Group, meanwhile, is investing $10.4m in a new manufacturing plant in Merida, creating 60 jobs. And US-based Tygar Manufacturing, the leading manufacturer of turnkey decorative curbing equipment for the landscape curbing industry, has opened Tygar Mexico to serve customers in the country from a sales, marketing and support office in Yucatán.
The State of Louisiana, US
Not all that long ago, the south eastern US state of Louisiana’s only business-friendly attribute might have been its legacy of corruption – the belief among business leaders that if you knew who to pay, you might get your way. That perception remains in many circles, but the state has cleaned up its act in recent years and made active efforts to improve its investment environment and court foreign companies in the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
New ethics rules have been put on the books to tackle the legacy of corruption, and the state government has enacted truly business-friendly tax and regulatory relief, and reached out to recruit and welcome new companies. By fostering and celebrating a string of expansions by companies already in the state, the state has significantly increased the credibility of this strong new message. State government’s support for bringing private-sector innovation into what was the troubled public school system of New Orleans also points to expanding opportunities for young people who in the past did not have much of a future, economic or otherwise, and building a promising future talent pool for inward investors.
After posting relatively low greenfield FDI project numbers in the early to mid 2000s, Louisiana started to gain some traction in 2007, according to fDi Markets figures. Project numbers and capital expenditure held steady in 2008 while the number of jobs created by greenfield investment projects multiplied by ten. So far in 2009 project numbers and capex are well exceeding 2008 levels and job creation also looks to be ahead of the previous year.