Three former national leaders have spoken out on the challenges their successors now face in attracting FDI, during an international investment forum in Rio de Janeiro.

Participating in the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) conference in December 2008, Vicente Fox, president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, advised sticking to the basics.

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Mr Fox told fDi: “The same rules that applied 100 years ago to attract investment are the same rules that apply today, so that’s what countries have to do: keep their economies open, keep their markets open, keep their financial systems reliable and keep attracting FDI because of the return it can provide.”

Mike Moore, both a former prime minister of New Zealand and a former director-general of the World Trade Organization, worried about a race to the bottom with investment incentives in an increasingly competitive environment due to fewer corporate expansions.

“As credit and investment shrinks, it’s going to be difficult for governments that want investment to refrain from doing too many sweetheart deals to attract investment,” Mr Moore said.

“Governments ought to try to get some understanding or agreement so they are not playing off against each other.”

Aleksander Kwasniewski, president of Poland from1995 to 2005, said he did not have many worries about the future of FDI in his country or its economic outlook.

“Poland is in good shape,” he said. “If we are projecting about the next year or the next few years in Poland we still speak about 3% or 4% GDP growth. It is not the situation of recession or crisis, it is the situation of slowdown perhaps.”